The Hilliard Darby High School girls bowling team has been on a roll all season.
The Panthers won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division title with an 11-0 record and were 12-1 overall before completing the regular season against Northland on Feb. 14.
"I think this has a lot to do with team chemistry," coach Bob Clute said. "Four of the girls have been bowling together for three years now and that has gone a long way towards making this a successful season. We had just one senior last year."
Senior Ash Roberts has led a balanced team, entering the week with a 176.9 game average, which was 16th-best among the COHSBC's 279 competitors.
"Ash keeps it simple," Clute said. "She has found something that works and has gotten pretty good at it. She also doesn't seem to let a bad shot bother her. She moves on from it and adjusts if needed, which is important in bowling."
Juniors Emily Betteridge (165.4) and Zoe Paxhia-Poppaw (161.6) had the 30th- and 39th-best averages in the COHSBC. Senior Gillian Tinney (150.6) and freshman Lyndsey Seagraves (132.2) rounded out Darby's top five scorers.
"Emily is consistent and good at picking up her spares," Clute said. "She also stays composed. We also have a couple of freshmen who have done a good job filling the void. Jeff Poppaw has done a great job coaching the freshmen, while still keeping it fun. All of the freshmen have shown a tremendous amount of improvement."
The Panthers' lone loss came against Delaware, 1,776-1,569 in an OCC-Cardinal Division match Dec. 8. Darby finished 5-1 in that league to place second behind the Pacers (6-0).
The Panthers now are preparing for the Division I sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes.
"I think it's just a matter of getting hot at the right time," Clute said. "They are bowling well right now, getting over 2,000 for the first time recently. If they can bowl like that in sectionals and districts, that could mean very good things."
The boys team was 8-5 overall before Feb. 14 and finished 7-4 in the COHSBC-B to tie Bradley for fourth, behind champion Pickerington North (11-0). The Panthers went 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Worthington Kilbourne for second behind Delaware (5-1).
Josh Larsen (179.5), Nick Carter (178.2), Derek Violette (177.8), Alex Meister (172.7) and Jalen Clisby (162.3) are the top scorers for the Panthers, who will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes.
"The boys team has shown a lot of improvement," Clute said. "Last year, they were 1-18 and our team game average was 752 and our Baker game average was 149. This year, they are averaging 855 and 180, and that's with only one senior on the team.
"They even won the Central District Preview (on Jan. 21) and beat Gahanna along the way and Westerville Central in the final. Gahanna has the third-highest average in central Ohio and Westerville Central has the highest."
Shook, gymnastics team win OCC titles
The gymnastics team used its depth to finish first in the OCC-Cardinal meet Feb. 10 at Davidson and earn the overall league championship.
The Panthers had four of the top-12 finishers in the all-around and totaled 132.925 points in the meet to finish ahead of Bradley (130.45), Dublin Jerome (129.825), Kilbourne (121.875), Delaware (120.975), Thomas Worthington (120.2) and Dublin Scioto (79.475).
Darby totaled 28 points (6-0 record) to finish first in the overall league standings, ahead of Bradley (24, 5-1), Jerome (20, 4-2), Thomas (12, 3-3), Kilbourne (12, 2-4), Delaware (12, 1-5) and Scioto (4, 0-6).
In the league meet, Chloe Shook won the all-around (35.225) after finishing first on uneven bars (9.075), tying for first on vault (8.9), placing second on balance beam (8.7) and finishing ninth on floor exercise (8.55).
"I blew it all up by falling off the beam and not having a great floor routine," Shook said before the final team scores and placements were announced. "I know I can't be perfect, but this hurts. This will give me motivation for districts (Feb. 24 at Kilbourne), but I think we won and that's the most important thing right now is winning the (league) championship."
In the league meet, the top six finishers in each event and the all-around made the podium, the top five medaled and the top three earned all-league honors.
Jenna Hartwell was eighth in the all-around (32.65), followed by Kathryn Kline (11th, 31.5) and Laurel Bonn (12th, 31.4).
Bailey Miller placed fourth on beam (8.5) and sixth on bars (8.35), Bonn tied Kline for sixth on beam (8.15) and was seventh on vault (8.025) and Hartwell was seventh on floor (8.65), eighth on beam (8.1), ninth on vault (8.0) and 10th on bars (7.9).
"I have never coached a team with this much depth and it makes it interesting when filling out the lineup," coach Carol Eskay said. "Everyone who competed today had a hand in the championship. We have so much depth and we're still a very young team, so I probably can't fill out the district lineup until the night before."
McDonald wins titles at sectional swimming
Lexie McDonald won two titles to lead the girls swimming team in a Division I sectional Feb. 10 at Kenyon College.
McDonald and Taylor Leone both will represent the Panthers in two individual events in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ohio University.
McDonald won the 100-yard freestyle in 52.36 seconds and the 50 free in 24.05 and is seeded first and second, respectively, in the events at district. Leone placed third in both the 100 free (53.37) and 50 free (24.79) and is seeded ninth and 13th, respectively, in the events.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event qualify for the state meet Feb. 23 and 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large berths will be awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.
McDonald and Leone also joined Isabel Quimba and Madyson Leone on the fourth-place 200 free relay (1:42.53), which is seeded fourth at district.
The 200 medley relay and 400 free relay also qualified for district, as the Panthers scored 94 points to tie Davidson for seventh of 10 teams, behind champion Dublin Coffman (274).
At sectional, the winner of each swimming event automatically qualified for district. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
Riley Brokaw and Kendall Jones had the highest finishes at sectional for the boys team, which was ninth (53) of 11 teams, behind champion Jerome (270).
Brokaw placed fifth in the 200 free (1:46.98) and Jones was fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:03.89). Both will compete in two individual events at district, as will Braden Bower. All three relays also qualified for district.
Brokaw is seeded eighth in the 200 free.
Halli Reinhard competed in the girls district diving meet Feb. 12 at Dublin Community Recreation Center, placing 15th of 33 competitors with a 326.35 as the top four finishers qualified for state Feb. 22.
Hayden Apel was expected to compete in the boys district diving meet Feb. 13 at Dublin Community Recreation Center, where the top five finishers advanced to state Feb. 24.
Boys basketball team to face Jaguars
The boys basketball team was 12-8 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Bradley in its final two contests of the regular season.
The teams met Feb. 13 in a makeup game from Jan. 12 and will play again Friday, Feb. 16, at Bradley.
The Panthers defeated Thomas 43-38 on Feb. 9 behind 12 points from Chandler Barlow and 11 from Josh Govine. They then lost to Watkins Memorial 51-48 on Feb. 10, getting 21 points from Govine and 11 from Brice Stultz.
Darby is seeded 18th of 48 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 19th-seeded Olentangy in the first round Feb. 24.
Girls basketball team prepping for tourney
The girls basketball team is seeded 26th of 50 teams in the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye.
Darby is 11-11 overall and will play ninth-seeded Gahanna or 41st-seeded Central Crossing in the second round Feb. 23 at the home of the higher seed.
The Panthers closed the regular season with a 74-73 triple-overtime victory over Thomas in an OCC-Cardinal contest Feb. 9, snapping a five-game losing streak. They finished 5-7 in the league.
Annie Rauch scored 24 points, including five in the third overtime, and sealed the win with a free throw with five seconds remaining. Sydney Wyngarden had 19 points and Alexa Dixon and Sophia Iosue both scored 10.
Wrestlers place second in All-North
The wrestling team will close the regular season Thursday, Feb. 15, with an OCC-Cardinal dual at Bradley.
The Panthers are coming off a runner-up finish in the 16-team All-North Tournament on Feb. 10 at Jerome, where Jared Ball (220 pounds) and Jacob Cover (heavyweight) won titles.
In their respective finals, Ball defeated Austin Smith of Amanda-Clearcreek 16-0 and Cover pinned Coldwater's Thomas Schwieterman in 1:10.
Ryan Blackerby (120) placed second and Axel Ventura (106), Issac Richards (126) and Ben Brown (132) all placed third for Darby, which scored 169.5 points to finish behind Upper Arlington (237).
Athletes make college decisions
Four girls soccer players announced their college decisions last week.
Blair Cowan will play at Ohio State, Maddy Grobe will play at Indiana Wesleyan, Hannah Knobloch will play at Ohio Dominican and Gillian Tinney will play at Alderson Broaddus.
@Brad_ThisWeekAt a glance
Below are the district qualifiers with sectional time and district seeds for the Darby boys and girls swimming teams:
BOYS -- Braden Bower: 200 free (1:51.67, 30th), 500 free (5:03.03, 22nd); Riley Brokaw: 100 free (48.76, 11th), 200 free (1:46.98, eighth); Kendall Jones 200 IM (2:03.89, 13th), 100 back (56.99, 21st); 200 free relay (1:37.96, 22nd); 400 free relay (3:20.42, 15th); 200 medley relay (1:51.12, 26th)
GIRLS -- Taylor Leone: 50 free (24.79, 13th), 100 free (53.37, ninth); Lexie McDonald 50 free (24.05, second), 100 free (52.36, first); 200 free relay (1:42.53, fourth); 400 free relay (3:59.77, ninth); 200 medley relay (2:01.06, ninth)