So far, Abi DeBrosse's favorite event in gymnastics is the balance beam -- for one reason.
"It's the only one I can do moderately OK and not die," the senior on the DeSales High School gymnastics team said with a smile during a season-opening tri-meet Dec. 6 at Thomas Worthington.
DeBrosse acknowledges she is an extremely late arrival into a sport various experts suggest taking up by age 5 if the athlete is serious about eventually performing at a high level. But DeBrosse is on the team more to uphold her end of a pact she made with one of her best friends, senior and three-year letterwinner Alex Foos, than for the sport itself.
"I just told (Foos) if she did cross country, I'd do gymnastics," said DeBrosse, one of the cross country team's top runners since her freshman year. "It was a really rash thing to say.
"I'm sore in places I didn't know I had. There are a lot of muscles I didn't know how to use. My arms are really awkward because all I've ever asked them to do is go back and forth (during running) and now they have to do spins and things like that."
DeBrosse hopes to provide extra points for a team that has just four gymnasts. The roster is rounded out by senior Kaitlyn O'Reilly and sophomore Mykaella Romain.
DeSales finished third (94.05 points) in the tri-meet at Thomas behind the host Cardinals (121.45) and Westerville Central (113.85). O'Reilly won the floor exercise (8.4) and all-around (32.75).
Foos has competed in gymnastics and track and field since her freshman year and tennis the past three seasons. Despite the natural crossover between cross country and track, Foos never participated in the former until she and DeBrosse decided to make the pact in order to do something different for their senior year.
Foos mostly played first singles in tennis and said she attended only two cross country practices during the season, instead running on her own in her spare time and participating in five meets this fall. DeBrosse briefly considered taking up tennis before picking gymnastics.
"It's difficult to pick up because it's a very difficult sport, but she is doing beam, which is good, and she has improved a lot since the beginning," Foos said. "She is willing to try anything. She has a very good attitude."
The Stallions, who do not compete in a league, fell short of the state meet last year as they finished 19th (119.7) at district behind champion Thornville Sheridan (138.65) as 23 teams scored.
"Goal-wise, really, I just want them to shoot for their top scores," third-year coach Megan O'Reilly said. "I know Kaitlyn is hoping to go to state. She has been working hard, but she's had some setbacks with her ankles. They're a little flimsy. She has stayed strong. Hopefully, she doesn't land short and tweak them."
DeSales resumes its season Jan. 6 in the Wolfpack Invitational at Worthington Kilbourne. The Stallions planned to spend most of December both fine-tuning their individual skills and continuing to bring DeBrosse up to speed.
"It is a lot of fun even if I usually don't know how to do anything," DeBrosse said. "Megan is always like 'Abi, why not try to do a front tuck?' I don't know much about that, so (all of the girls) will do a front tuck and explain it. Megan demonstrates it and makes it look so easy ... and then I think 'Hey, I will make it look hard, but I will try it.'"
Bowling teams face rebuilding season
The boys and girls bowling teams approached the season with some uncertainty -- including the possibility that there might not be a girls team at all -- but 15th-year coach Connie Emlich is embracing the chance to teach from the ground up.
Senior Jacob Pugh and junior Isaiah Thomas are the only two boys back from last year, and the girls team is starting over after all four bowlers from a year ago graduated.
The boys are 4-1 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division and 3-1 in the CCL. The girls are 0-4 overall and in both leagues.
"We're new. The kids are enthusiastic. I'm really looking forward to this," Emlich said. "The boys, I am especially proud of (them) because they are bowling their hearts out. The girls are having a good time, and they will start bowling better because of having a good time. They're enjoying themselves. They've blended together well. I am really looking for big things to happen."
Rounding out the boys roster are junior Andrew Swift and freshmen James Jackson, Marcus Ray, Bryan Ritzler and Andy Viola.
The girls team consists of juniors Tam Ordonez, Leslie Salto and Johnaiya Talbert, sophomore Audrey Nave and freshmen Skyla Blumenscheid and Olivia Houlihan.
Blumenscheid and Houlihan came out for the team in early November, but according to Emlich, the others did not follow suit until about a week before the team's opening match.
"Our principal, (Dan) Garrick, really wanted to see us have two varsity teams, so he started talking on the announcements every day and saying we needed girls for the bowling team," Emlich said. "For some of them, it's their first experience at all with bowling, and definitely with competition."
The boys opened with a 1,681-1,447 win over Hartley at Capri Lanes -- the Stallions' home facility -- on Dec. 7 and lost to the Hawks 1,898-1,881 the next day at Holiday Lanes before posting wins over St. Charles (1,843-1,816 on Dec. 12 at HP Lanes), Linden-McKinley (1,685-1,101 on Dec. 13 at Capri Lanes) and Ready (1,696-1,556 on Dec. 14 at Capri Lanes).
The girls have lost to Hartley (1,274-1,166 on Dec. 7 and 1,291-1,194 on Dec. 8), Whetstone (1,756-1,046 on Dec. 11 at Sequoia Pro Bowl) and Ready (1,425-1,168).
Emlich is coaching both the boys and girls teams for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Jay Almon oversaw the boys team the past two seasons but stepped down to devote more time to his musical career.
Hockey team getting set for holiday break
Despite records of 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the Capital Hockey Conference, first-year hockey coach Darcy Cahill said he sees the team adjusting to his philosophies.
"They hadn't done much forechecking the past few years. Now we're pressuring the puck a lot more, being more physical and the kids are having a blast doing it," said Cahill, whose team plays Olentangy Liberty on Friday, Dec. 22, at Chiller North. "I've been coaching for a long time. I just think that's the right way to play hockey."
DeSales' wins have come against the Northwest Eagles, 8-3 on Nov. 26 in the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin, and Olentangy, 3-2 on Dec. 8.
Chris Yarger has scored seven of the team's 15 goals, and goaltender Grant Rodgers has had three games with at least 44 saves. He made a season-high 67 saves in a 5-0 loss to St. Charles on Dec. 10, 55 in a 7-1 loss to Upper Arlington on Dec. 2 in which the Stallions were outshot 62-3, and 44 in the win over Olentangy.
While the Stallions' game against Liberty is their last until Jan. 5, Cahill and his team will stay busy during the break, partly thanks to activities involving the Easton Minor Hockey organization.
Cahill will conduct his annual hockey camp this weekend at Hockey Training Center in Hilliard, and on Dec. 30 the team will provide instruction to about two dozen youth players ages 7-10 at an outdoor rink in Center Village.
*Dec. 7 -- Hartley at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 8 -- Hartley at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 11 -- Girls: Whetstone at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Dec. 12 -- Boys: St. Charles at HP Lanes
*Dec. 13 -- Linden-McKinley at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 14 -- Ready at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 9 -- Africentric at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 11 -- Walnut Ridge at Eastland Lanes
*Jan. 12 -- Mifflin at HP Lanes
*Jan. 18 -- Watterson at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 19 -- Whitehall at Holiday Lanes
*Jan. 22 -- Columbus East at Eastland Lanes
*Jan. 24 -- Eastmoor Academy at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 25 -- St. Charles at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 29 -- Independence at Eastland Lanes
*Jan. 31 -- Ready at Game of Western Columbus
*Feb. 1 -- Watterson at Sawmill Lanes
Dec. 6 -- at Thomas Worthington with Westerville Central
Dec. 20 -- Buckeye Valley and Thornville Sheridan at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading
Jan. 6 -- Wolfpack Invitational at Worthington Kilbourne
Jan. 13 -- Thornville Sheridan and Washington Court House Miami Trace at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading
Jan. 27 -- Dawg House Challenge at Dresden Tri-Valley
Jan. 31 -- Buckeye Valley, Delaware and Marysville at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading
Feb. 15 -- Beauty and the Beast Invitational at Olentangy Orange
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys basketball, girls basketball and hockey teams:
*Dec. 22 -- Home vs. Hartley
Dec. 27 -- Home vs. Logan in Roosters Stallion Holiday Classic
Dec. 28 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington or Cincinnati Colerain in Roosters Stallion Holiday Classic
*Dec. 22 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller North