The bowling battle for Worthington can be heated, especially for the coaches.
The Thomas and Kilbourne high school boys teams will face off Friday, Feb. 1, at Capri Lanes.
Coaches Joe Taylor of Thomas and Mike Mramor of Kilbourne usually have something on the line when the teams meet.
"I have known Mike for a long time and whether we're bowling against each other in leagues or coaching against each other in junior leagues or high school, there is usually a little something on the line," Taylor said. "It's either a dinner or someone buying the first round of beverages at the sectional draw or something like that."
Mramor said the players and coaches both look forward to the matchup.
"The kids like it because it's a community thing for bragging rights," he said. "As far as the coaches, it's not a Hatfield and McCoy kind of thing, but it is something to keep you motivated."
Only the boys teams will play because Thomas does not have a girls team, although it does have girls in the program.
Each team has one win in the series. Kilbourne won 2,011-1,749 in 2011 and Thomas won 2,215-1,884 last season.
"We try to schedule (Kilbourne-Thomas) as the last match of the season," Mramor said. "We had it that way, but we had a couple of matches we had to reschedule to later dates. ... We also added a match with Ready on (Tuesday) Feb. 5 at (Columbus) Western (Bowl) because that is a possible sectional site that we haven't had a match."
Entering last weekend, senior Charlie Roach led Thomas with a 192 average and a high game of 275. His average was 25th among COHSBC bowlers behind leader Zach Pannell (223.7) of Westerville South.
Sophomore Johnny Knox (183.5 average, 278 high game) was next for the Cardinals, followed by senior Rockwell Dendiu (170.2, 237), senior Nate Ensminger (163.8, 214), sophomore Nate Boggs (158, 213) and senior Hayden Plummer (126.7, 174).
"We have had an up-and-down season and we haven't been as good as I thought we would be," Taylor said. "We have made some mistakes at the wrong times, and that has hurt us."
The Kilbourne boys had three in the league's top 27 averages. Junior Alex Mramor (279 high game) was sixth (206.1 average), senior Tessa Epifanio (246 high game) was 15th (198.5 average) and sophomore A.J. Lent (245 high game) was 27th (191.7 average).
Other averages for the Wolves included senior Michael Johnson (150.8 average, 198 high game), junior Josh Toulmin (148.6, 189) and sophomore Yuki Ono (140.8, 186).
"The averages show we have three of the top bowlers in the (league)," coach Mramor said. "I think all of our kids have been improving as well. It makes you feel good as a coach when you can see that you have been teaching them something and they have been enjoying themselves."
The Kilbourne girls have been led by sophomore Joy Sun (141.3, 180), followed by sophomore Minori Mae (121.2, 144), junior Lynn Tong (105.8, 160), sophomore Kyrie Barone (99.9, 132), sophomore Hayley Wilber (90.2, 125) and freshman Olivia Brady (81.5, 114).
"Some of the players who have surprised me the most have been Joy Sun and Minori Mae," coach Mramor said.
"They both have come a long way and we have a really young girls squad. I look for that progress to continue from year to year."