The Olentangy Orange High School boys bowling team missed an opportunity to win the OCC-Capital Division championship outright, but it still managed to secure a share of its first league title.
The Pioneers lost to Olentangy 2,065-1,948 in their final OCC-Capital match Jan. 30 to finish 4-1 and tie Hilliard Davidson for first, ahead of Olentangy (3-2), Hilliard Darby (2-3), Hilliard Bradley (2-3) and Olentangy Liberty (0-5).
"That's a pretty awesome accomplishment for our team," first-year coach John Sheets said. "Our athletics director (John Betz) and principal (Todd Meyer) told me they wanted me to take our team up to where it's never been before, and this is something new for us."
Orange defeated Davidson 2,131-2,081 on Jan. 28. Scoring for the Pioneers were Garrett Moore (469), Ben Kunz (384), Daniel Vandewater (353), Nick Sansone (279) and Stephen Spezzano (270).
In its other league matches, Orange defeated Liberty 2,104-1,864 on Jan. 3, Darby 2,259-1,759 on Jan. 4 and Bradley 2,054-1,935 on Jan. 29.
In the Olentangy Classic on Jan. 23, the Pioneers rolled a 2,249 to beat Olentangy (2,243) and Liberty (2,062).
"The kids did a good job of keeping their focus and coming back to beat Hilliard Davidson," Sheets said. "Winning the OCC is a good start for us, and now we're looking for more success."
Orange will compete in a sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Columbus Western Bowl. The top nine teams and top nine individuals not on a qualifying team from each of the boys and girls sectionals advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at HP Lanes.
Last season, the Pioneers advanced to district, where they finished 16th (3,274) behind champion Jonathan Alder (3,962).
"I think we can get past the first round of the (postseason) tournament if our kids come to play that day," Sheets said. "If not, I have a lot of confidence that Daniel Vandewater will make it as an individual because he's one of the top seniors in our area.
"Right now, I'd say we're having a good season. But if we can advance (to district), it will be a great season."
The Orange girls team defeated Olentangy 1,410-1,378 on Jan. 30 to improve to 2-11 overall.
Scoring for the Pioneers were Dejahne Stroud (247), Hannah Sutherland (244), Claire Morgan (241), Kelsey Krumm (221) and Jessica Torkar (191).
Orange finished sixth in the OCC-Capital at 1-4, behind Bradley (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Davidson (3-2), Olentangy (2-3) and Darby (2-3).
The Pioneers' other win came against Worthington Kilbourne, 1,293-1,091 on Jan. 22. The Wolves had only four bowlers.
"Our girls have steadily gotten better all season and they were really excited to get their first win against a five-girl team," Sheets said, referring to the win over Olentangy.
Orange will compete in a sectional tournament Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl.
Last season, 2012 graduate Rachel Bartram advanced individually to district, where she placed 30th (478).
"We just want our girls to get some experience at (sectional) and see firsthand what they can accomplish in the future if they work harder at bowling," Sheets said.
Olentangy boys exceed coach's expectations
The Olentangy boys team avenged its loss to Orange in the Olentangy Classic by beating the Pioneers in an OCC-Capital match a week later.
In the league match against Orange, Matthew Walker (437), Brandon Bice (374), Jordan Ustaszewski (342) and Dominic Spain (316) each competed in two games.
In addition to finishing ahead of Liberty in the Olentangy Classic, the Braves beat the Patriots 1,941-1,874 in an OCC-Capital match Dec. 4.
In a 2,036-1,791 win over Worthington Christian on Jan. 17, Bice rolled a career-best 278 game.
"Our boys have matured faster and done a little better than expected this season," coach Jim Brehm said. "We bowled well against Orange and Liberty twice, and we had a nice win against Westerville Central (2,075-2,028 on Dec. 5). Brandon has bowled nice and steady for us, and Jordan and Matt are having good seasons, too."
Olentangy will compete in a sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Columbus Western Bowl. Last season, the Braves did not advance to district as a team or have any individual district qualifiers.
"If we have four boys bowl well that day, I think it will be enough for us to move on," Brehm said. "I just want to see them all roll well at once for the first time this season."
The Olentangy girls team rolled an 1,928 to beat Liberty (1,735) and Orange (1,550) in the Olentangy Classic.
Scoring for the Braves were Emily Brehm (366), Kaitlyn Kelley (336), Samantha Rinehart (312), Blair Bishop (267) and Stephanie Sturms (250).
"Winning the Olentangy (Classic) absolutely was the highlight of our season," coach Brehm said. "My daughter, Emily, rolled a 202 in a game and had her highest scores of the season to medal in the Olentangy (Classic). Kaitlyn has been our most consistent bowler, keeping her scoring average around 160. Stephanie and Blair have had good games for us, and Sam is improving a lot."
Olentangy will compete in a sectional tournament Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl.
Last season, the Braves advanced to district, where they placed 16th (2,904) behind champion Westerville Central (3,603).
"Our girls have been in a little slump lately," coach Brehm said. "But if they all bowl their best, they will have a reasonable shot at making it to district because they are improving each week."
Liberty squads eyeing sectional
With No. 1 bowler Mike Shiner out of the lineup nursing an injured finger, the Liberty boys team wrapped up its regular season with a 1,974-1,844 loss to Darby in an OCC-Capital match Jan. 31.
"We've had a lot of good competition and we're doing all right," Shiner said. "David Valz, Austin Limbert, Drew Crea and Max Gunn have bowled well this year. The highlight of our season was rolling a 256 in a Baker game when we competed in the Olentangy Classic."
The boys team will compete in a sectional tournament Feb. 16 at Columbus Western Bowl.
Last season, Shiner won the sectional title at Columbus Western Bowl with a 724 series.
Shiner then rolled a 619 to place fifth at district and qualify for the state tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, where he rolled a 582 to place 31st of 119 competitors. Warren Champion's Danny Simmons won the state title with a 702.
The girls team will compete in a sectional tournament Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl.
Last season, the Patriots advanced to district, where they finished 18th (2,719).
"I believe we'll have a fair chance of making district if we bowl to our potential," Shiner said. "We're focusing on bowling our average or above at sectional."