Developing into possibly central Ohio's best girls bowling program is something Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Shannon Gonzales describes as a journey with its share of twists and turns.
The Lions won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division at 12-0 and have set their sights on reaching a third consecutive Division I state tournament.
Gonzales and classmates Briann McKnight and Delaney Ferguson were on varsity as freshmen when Gahanna finished 14th in the district tournament.
"It's exciting and such a big accomplishment," Gonzales said. "It's our last year, and we've come so far over the four years. It's such a good feeling that we've gotten this far together. We definitely don't let each other get down, and we try to pick each other up."
Gahanna was 16-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central entering the week with an unscheduled OCC-Central makeup remaining against Hilliard Davidson.
Following an eighth-place finish at state in 2016, the Lions placed sixth a year ago.
They open the postseason Feb. 24 in the sectional at HP Lanes.
For McKnight, it's the last postseason before she heads into a college bowling career at Wright State after she became the program's first Division I signee in the sport.
She believes her team, which also includes one of the area's top freshmen in Lilu Smith as well as junior Taylor Burns, is as tough mentally as any squad in central Ohio.
"If you have a bad shot, don't stay mad," McKnight said. "You just have to let it go. The environment is a lot different (in the postseason). This is our last year. Now we know what we're going into."
Entering the week, McKnight was ninth in COHSBC average at 186.2, followed by Gonzales (182.9, 10th), Smith (179.5, 12th), Ferguson (166.3, 28th) and Burns (164.0, tied for 33rd).
Ferguson is the daughter of coach Kelly Ferguson and enjoys being able to have her mother at every match, although she said she and her mother "leave it on the lanes" and don't rehash results when they get home.
Coach Ferguson is excited about the opportunity her three seniors will have in the coming weeks.
"They all work non-stop and take private lessons," coach Ferguson said. "It really pays off."
Postseason begins for swim program
The boys and girls swimming teams will compete in the Division I district meet Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ohio University.
The top two finishers in each event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 23 and 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
On Feb. 12, defending state champion Maycey Vieta captured the championship with 524.7 points as 33 competitors scored in the girls district diving meet at Dublin Community Recreation Center. Ashleigh Provan was ninth (393.55), Kendra Dillon was 10th (358.7) and Lina Alli was 18th (237.8).
The top four advanced to compete at state Feb. 22.
"I had a strong start, and as time went on I had the energy and I stayed confident in myself and ended exactly how I wanted," Vieta said. "It's definitely going to be just as tough (at state)."
On Feb. 13, Casey Jordan and Alex Couch competed in the district boys diving meet at Dublin Community Recreation Center. The top five finishers advanced to compete at state Feb. 24.
In a sectional Feb. 10 at Thomas Worthington, the boys finished seventh (129) of 16 teams behind champion DeSales (349) and the girls were fifth (110) of 15 teams behind champion New Albany (401).
For the boys, Johnny Belli took third in the 100-yard butterfly (55.61 seconds), Paul Padgett was second in the 100 backstroke (55.12) and fifth in the 50 freestyle (22.88) and the 200 medley relay also was fifth (1:48.01).
For the girls, Payton Vogel-gesang took fourth in the 100 free (53.77), Hannah Snedden was fourth in the 100 back (1:00.59) and the 200 free relay (1:47.21), 200 medley relay (1:53.32) and 400 free relay (4:01.26) all finished fifth.
Boys basketball team gets back on track
After losing to Grove City 63-60 on Feb. 2, the boys basketball team won its next three games, including allowing a season-low point total in a 53-34 victory over Lancaster on Feb. 9.
Mike Reeves had 15 points and Cameren Carlisle added 10 against Lancaster as the Lions improved to 15-6 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Ohio.
On Friday, Feb. 16, Gahanna closes the regular season at home against Pickerington Central with an eye on avenging a 72-56 loss Jan. 29.
It might not be the Lions' last matchup with the Tigers.
Gahanna received the seventh seed for the Division I district tournament and will open Feb. 24 at home against 38th-seeded Big Walnut.
The winner plays host to 41st-seeded Briggs on March 2, and the winner of that game would face ninth-seeded Central on March 7 if the Tigers win their second-round game.
The highest-seeded team in the Lions' bracket is No. 4 Westerville North.
Girls basketball team to open tourney play
At 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, the ninth-seeded girls basketball team opens the Division I district tournament at home against 41st-seeded Central Crossing.
If Gahanna beats the Comets, it will play host to 26th-seeded Hilliard Darby on Feb. 23 in a second-round game.
With a 53-50 victory over Lancaster on Feb. 9, the Lions closed the regular season at 15-7 overall. They finished third (5-5) in the OCC-Ohio behind co-champions Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg (both 9-1).
The Lions have won six games in a row since losing 60-57 to Reynoldsburg on Jan. 19.
Against Lancaster, Anisja Harris had 16 points, A'mya Bess scored 11 and Morgan Darnell and Madison Hensley both added 10.
"Early (in the season) I thought we struggled against really physical teams," coach Betsy Baker said.
"I think we're a much different team in February than we were in early December. There are some really, really talented teams, but I don't think there's a team we can't at least challenge."
Wrestlers place fifth in all-North tourney
The wrestling team closed its regular season Feb. 10 by finishing fifth (127) in the 16-team All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome behind champion Upper Arlington (237).
Charles Williams (106 pounds) captured a championship, while Cristian Salazar (113) and Jamal Lloyd (126) were runners-up, Nate Garbark (195) and Juan Porras (120) placed fourth, Anthony Swanson (106) was fifth and Luke Garbark (160) and Adam Grimard (182) finished sixth.
The Lions open the postseason Feb. 24 in a Division I sectional at Watkins Memorial.
Gahanna athletes select colleges
Five Gahanna athletes announced their college decisions Feb. 7.
In women's soccer, Madison Hansen and Kaylee Hensley will play for the University of Charleston. In football, Jonathan Harrington will play for Tiffin, Carlisle will play for Findlay and David Miller will play for Navy.
Below is the coming schedule for the Gahanna Lincoln hockey team:
Feb. 16 -- Seventh-seeded Springboro in first round of district tournament, 6:30 p.m. at Chiller North. Winner plays 10th-seeded Cincinnati Elder or 17th-seeded Thomas Worthington in second round, 7:45 p.m. Feb. 17 at OhioHealth Ice Haus. Winner plays top-seeded Dublin Jerome, 20th-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore or 21st-seeded Dublin Scioto in third round Feb. 24 at the Ice Haus. Gahanna is the 24th seed.At a glance
Below are the district qualifiers with sectional time and district seeds for the Gahanna Lincoln boys and girls swimming teams:
BOYS -- Johnny Belli: 100 back (57.65, 26th), 100 fly (55.61, 18th); Paul Padgett: 50 free (22.88, 30th), 100 back (55.12, 10th); Austin Wharton: 500 free (5:08.65, 27th); 200 free relay (1:37.83, 20th); 200 medley relay (1:48.01, 21st); 400 free relay (3:34.13, 21st)
GIRLS -- Lydia Gilger: 100 fly (1:00.25, 19th), 200 free (2:00.85, 16th); Mackenzie Massmann: 100 fly (1:01.53, 29th), 200 IM (2:22.15, 30th); Hannah Snedden: 100 back (1:00.59, 12th), 100 fly (1:01.44, 27th); Payton Vogelgesang: 50 free (25.2, 20th), 100 free (53.77, 11th); 200 free relay (1:47.21, 16th); 200 medley relay (1:53.32, 11th); 400 free relay (3:56.9, 18th)