Although his team fell short of its goal of qualifying for the state tournament, Whitehall-Yearling High School girls bowling coach Jess Biller was pleased with the season.
The Rams reached the 18-team district tournament Feb. 23 at HP Lanes and finished eighth (3,058) behind champion Cardington (3,682) as the top three teams advanced to state March 1 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. Briggs (3,614) and Lancaster (3,318) also advanced.
The Rams went 12-2 overall and finished third (11-2) in the 11-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division behind Briggs (14-0) and Reynoldsburg (11-1).
"I'm thrilled," Biller said. "The girls really learned a lot. They all matured, and they all got better. I don't think you can ask for much more than that."
Junior Taylor-Jo Morton, in her third season with the program, led Whitehall with a 521 series at district to finish 13th among 118 competitors. The top three bowlers not on qualifying teams -- Westerville Central's Savannah Slark (625, first), DeSales' Miranda Singer (614, second) and Richwood North Union's Stormie Jamison (529, 10th) -- advanced to state.
Senior Melanie Gilmer, a first-year bowler, had a 454 series to finish in a four-way tie for 40th at district.
"This was the fastest sport," Gilmer said of the season. "It was so quick. Going out and just playing with my friends, I never thought I was as good as everyone else. I thought to be the best you had to throw like 250 always, but working with coach by the end of the year, I was throwing low 200s, so I improved so much. I had so much fun."
Also at district, junior Taylor Deskins had a 451 series to tie for 44th, senior Tabetha Baumann was 67th (414) and freshman Ashley Ford was 81st (377).
Baumann and Ford also were first-year bowlers.
"We were disappointed that we didn't make it (to state), but when you look at our scores (at district) we bowled comparable to what we bowled at the sectionals," Biller said. "We didn't bowl badly. We did really well. There were unfortunately other teams there that were better. They had more experience, more practice."
Whitehall was second (3,120) in the 18-team sectional Feb. 15 at Eastland Lanes behind champion Lancaster (3,159) as the top nine teams advanced to district. Morton was third (515) among 146 competitors, followed by Gilmer (475, eighth), Deskins (414, 34th), Ford (404, 36th) and Baumann (394, 40th).
The Rams defeated Granville 3-1 in a best-of-five match to win the MSL tournament Feb. 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. They finished first in pool play with 3,560 pins and then defeated Columbus Academy 3-0 in a semifinal.
Morton (611 series), Gilmer (515), Baumann (473), Ford (467) and Deskins (456) were named first-team all-league.
Morton had a 191.1 game average to finish fourth among area bowlers behind Briggs' Torri Pappas (206.1) and Jordyn Estep (195.9) and Ready's Paige Sutfin (194.7).
Gilmer had a 142.2 average, followed by Baumann (140.8), Deskins (134.2) and Ford (133.8).
Morton was named Bowler of the Year in the MSL, the third consecutive season a Whitehall bowler earned the award. Tiffany Smith, a 2012 graduate, received the honor the previous two seasons.
Wrestling team receives honors
Wrestling coach Steve Pennington has been named district Coach of the Year and senior heavyweight Alex Farrow has been named district Wrestler of the Year, both for Division II.
Farrow won a district title and finished second at state.
Whitehall won its first sectional title since 1961 and its first league title since 1968.