Not only is bowling a big part of Kenneth Kresina's life, but his family has been one of a few that has been involved with the New Albany High School program for its entire existence.
Kresina's father, Keith, has been an assistant to head coach Damian Hammond since the team began in 2014, when Kresina was a freshman. His younger brother, Grant, now is a sophomore bowler for the Eagles.
Kresina didn't get to devote as much time to the sport as he wanted during the offseason thanks to a rigorous academic schedule and long line of college applications, but that doesn't mean he is setting his goals low.
"I set a goal early in the year that I wanted to average 200," he said. "I can't say there's anything in particular that I worked on, but the older you get and the more experienced you get, you know what your bowling balls will do on any given day and the more you can adapt to the lanes.
"Last year, I was harping on just practicing a lot, which I didn't get to do because I've been applying to so many colleges, but just another year and having that experience has helped me do a lot better."
Kresina averaged 187.2 pins per game through three matches, but he thinks the best is yet to come not only for himself but for a lineup that includes one other senior in Brendan Cohen and two bowlers who were on the junior varsity last year in juniors Thomas Carey and Ryan Ho.
New Albany was 0-4 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division and 0-3 in the OCC-Buckeye before a Dec. 20 match against Big Walnut.
Junior Adriane Hammond was averaging 177.5 through three matches for the girls, who were 1-3 overall and in the COHSBC-A and 0-3 in the OCC-Buckeye before Dec. 20. Sophomore Mackenzie Halloy was averaging 141.7, ahead of senior Kaylee Leite (131.4).
"The kids are really taking to the coaching and working on different things they need to do to get better," coach Hammond said. "We have kids with a few years' experience, so it isn't new to them anymore. There's definitely a lot of confidence, and the new kids feed off of that."
The boys went 7-8 overall and in the COHSBC-North last year, tied for eighth behind co-champions Westerville Central and Westerville South (both 14-1), and 3-4 in the OCC-Buckeye, tied for fourth behind champion Westerville Central (7-0).
The girls were 2-12 overall and in the COHSBC-North, 13th behind champion Gahanna (14-0), and 0-7 in the OCC-Buckeye, eighth behind champion South (6-1).
New Albany opened Dec. 4, with the boys losing to Olentangy 2,118-1,995 and the girls falling 2,123-1,594.
The Eagles also were swept by Orange on Dec. 11, as the boys fell 2,108-1,916 and the girls lost 1,592-1,550, and by Westerville North on Dec. 15, as the boys fell 1,962-1,900 and the girls lost 1,528-1,488.
The girls earned their first win Dec. 12, defeating Marysville 1,704-1,128. The boys lost 2,498-2,088.
"We're getting more consistent throughout a match," Adriane Hammond said. "More girls are coming to practices, too, and taking advantage of the chances they're given. That helps us be more consistent."
Rounding out the boys roster are senior Dominic Melendez, sophomores Christian Hathaway and A.J. Weisser and freshmen Jacob Cohen and Damon Holly.
The rest of the girls roster consists of senior Amanda Lifter and sophomores Chloe Delma, Juliana Hurt and Riley Langdale.
"We want them to be overall better bowlers, maybe pick up 25 or 30 pins," coach Hammond said. "That kind of improvement will get us to the next level."
Last-second wins lifting girls team
Girls basketball coach Jeff Blunt was thrilled with a 5-1 start that included three games decided on the final possession, but he and the Eagles were working on better starts entering the week.
"We've been turning the ball over way too much in the first half and in the second half, our possessions have been much better and our rebounding has been tremendous," said Blunt, whose team was 5-1 overall before playing Westerville North on Dec. 19 and is 2-1 in the OCC-Capital. "We're trying to figure out why our focus seems to be so much better after halftime. They're fighting, and we're thrilled we've been able to pull out some close wins. But we've had to endure some storms for sure."
Freshman Olivia Gittens' 23-foot 3-pointer as time expired Dec. 9 gave the Eagles a 55-52 win over Teays Valley. Three nights earlier, New Albany used an 11-0 third-quarter advantage to take control at DeSales and held on for a 41-38 win, and Gittens helped seal a 48-45 win at Dublin Scioto on Dec. 1 with two free throws down the stretch.
The Eagles made 14 of 16 free throws in overtime Dec. 15 to edge Big Walnut 59-51. Raegan Elwer had 15 points, 10 of which came from the line.
Micaylah Nash had 26 rebounds against DeSales and a late putback to give the Eagles a three-point lead. She had 20 rebounds against Teays Valley.
"You can't overstate how important (those performances) were," Blunt said.
Josie Smith was averaging a team-high 15.2 points as well as 6.8 rebounds through six games. Nash was averaging 9.3 points and 12.3 rebounds.
The Eagles opened with a 63-24 loss at Newark on Nov. 28, and their other win before Dec. 19 was 71-8 over Franklin Heights on Dec. 5.
Hockey team's Riddle off to fast start
With only three other seniors on the hockey team this year, Tyler Riddle thought of this season as one in which he could make his mark.
So far, he has as the Eagles' top scorer during an up-and-down season.
Riddle has 21 of New Albany's 47 goals, more than quadruple the five from second-leading scorers Alex Arenschield and Jordan Campbell. Four other players have scored three or four goals.
Riddle scored six times in an 8-2 win over Dublin Coffman on Dec. 3 during the Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin, and had three goals in both a 10-2 rout of Parma Padua during the same tournament Dec. 1 and a 5-3 loss to Cincinnati Moeller on Dec. 16.
"We looked at this season as more opportunities for guys to go out and prove what we can do," Riddle said. "Our leadership is key. With only four guys returning, a lot of our sophomores and freshmen are looking up to us. They're adapting really well."
New Albany has yet to win consecutive games this season. The Eagles improved to 5-8 overall and 1-4 in the Capital Hockey Conference with a 5-2 win over Coffman on Dec. 17, and that snapped a three-game losing streak that included two setbacks against Olentangy Liberty, 4-0 on Dec. 9 and 5-0 the next day.
*Dec. 4 -- Olentangy at Delaware Lanes
Dec. 9 -- Holiday Baker Marathon at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 11 -- Olentangy Orange at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 12 -- Marysville at Marysville Lanes
*Dec. 15 -- Westerville North at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 20 -- Big Walnut at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 5 -- Olentangy Liberty at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 10 -- Gahanna at Gahanna Lanes
Jan. 13 -- Central District Preview at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Jan. 16 -- Beechcroft at Sequoia Lanes
*Jan. 23 -- Delaware at Colony Lanes
*Jan. 26 -- Westerville Central at Gahanna Lanes
*Jan. 31 -- Westerville South at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Feb. 2 -- London at Gahanna Lanes
Feb. 7 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Gahanna Lanes
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 22 -- Home vs. Groveport
Dec. 27 -- Columbus Academy in Bruin Holiday Invitational at Briggs
*Dec. 22 -- At Groveport
Dec. 27 -- Hilliard Bradley in Watterson Christmas Classic
*Dec. 22 -- Olentangy at Chiller Easton
Dec. 27-29 -- Lakewood St. Edward Eagle Classic at Serpentini Arena
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman