Although they left Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl on March 9 having fallen short of their ultimate goal, members of the Westerville Central High School boys bowling team still took pride in their achievements.
The Warhawks reached championship play in the Division I state tournament, finishing third (3,594) of 16 teams in the qualifying round behind first-place Cincinnati Oak Hills (3,737) as the top eight advanced.
Then against sixth-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls in a quarterfinal, the Warhawks lost 3-1 in the best-of-five Baker series to place seventh.
Celina went on to win the state title, defeating Munroe Falls 3-1 in the final.
Central won its first state title last season, defeating Wapa-koneta 3-0 in the final.
"We're always state champions," coach Julie Wells said. "We made it here again to the state finals and just to get here is an honor. It's lot of work. It's a heck of an accomplishment for all these boys. They can't take that (state title) away from them."
Senior Ryan O'Connor led the Warhawks, finishing sixth of 205 bowlers with a 662 three-game series to earn second-team all-state honors.
"It was a heck of a season from all of us," he said. "We're winners regardless of what we did today. It was a fun season. We're still state champions regardless. We didn't finish the way we should have today."
Junior Devon Richardson was 18th (624), followed by senior Cameron Gonce (602, 26th), sophomore Wesley Minke (578, 37th) and junior Zach Gonzalez (400, two games, 74th).
Freshman Malik Curry-Brown also competed.
"Overall, it was a great season. I'm very proud of the boys," Wells said. "They hung together as a group. This arena is not easy and there can only be one winner when we leave here."
Among area bowlers for the season, Richardson (216.9), Gonce (213.3) and O'Connor (209.5) finished first, second and fourth, respectively, in average.
Central earned its state berth by winning the district tournament March 3 at HP Lanes with a score of 3,907 as Gonzalez finished fourth (597) of 105 bowlers.
The Warhawks rolled a 3,836 to win the 38-team sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes as Gonzalez was eighth of 220 bowlers with a 567.
Central won its fourth consecutive Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference title, going 12-0 in the COHSBC-A Division. It also won its fourth consecutive OCC championship, taking the OCC-Buckeye at 7-0.
Junior Nick Owsiak is another key bowler eligible to return.
"We have some up-and-comers, and we always start the next season with our goal to get to state," Wells said. "These guys work hard all year long."
On March 10, the girls team competed in its first state tournament since the 2013-14 season and finished 13th (3,080) of 16 teams behind first-place Gahanna (3,389).
Gahanna won the state title, defeating Kettering Fairmont 3-0 in the final.
Sophomore Reace Gonzalez led Central, finishing 28th (579) of 104 bowlers. Senior Madison Owsiany was 45th (537), followed by junior Jocelyn Grimsley (523, 53rd), senior Kirsten Miller (421, 78th), freshman Stephanie Showalter (203, one game, 91st) and senior Summer Snyder (192, one game, 93rd).
The Warhawks finished third (3,360) of 16 teams at district behind champion Gahanna (3,596) and fourth (3,151) in the 37-team sectional Feb. 24 at HP Lanes behind champion Gahanna (3,642).
Central finished third (10-2) in the COHSBC-A behind champion Gahanna (12-0) and second (6-1) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Olentangy (7-0).
Miller led Central with a 188.8 average, followed by Gonzalez (171.4), Grimsley (170.6) Snyder (169.5) and Owsiany (167.2).
Boys team has bounce-back season
After going 4-19 last season, the boys basketball team rebounded to finish 17-8 overall.
The 11th-seeded Warhawks lost to 10th-seeded Reynoldsburg 69-48 in a Division I district semifinal March 7 at Worthington Christian Middle School. The game was tied at 34 in the third quarter before the Raiders took control.
Senior forward Josh McDaniel led Central with 13 points.
"It was a great season," McDaniel said. "I'm just proud of my guys. We had a rough season last year and we were able to bounce back. Seventeen wins is something to be proud of. ... A lot of people doubted us at the start. After the last couple of seasons, people thought that was it, but we definitely came out here and proved them wrong and showed them that Westerville Central is on the rise again."
Reynoldsburg went on to defeat 16th-seeded Mount Vernon 51-36 in a district final March 10.
"We told the seniors not to let the bad night ruin their season," coach Donovon Barrett said. "They had a great season, a great recovery record-wise. They did a good job of staying together and being positive with energy and being good teammates. We talk about that stuff all the time."
Central defeated 32nd-seeded Delaware 47-39 on Feb. 24 and 24th-seeded Whitehall 68-61 on March 1, both at home.
Senior guard Thomas Hickman, who reached 1,000 career points against Delaware, was named first-team all-OCC-Buckeye and second-team all-district. He averaged a team-high 19.3 points.
Solomon Wells, who averaged 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds, was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. McDaniel averaged 8.7 points and 3.2 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior forward Cam Schroeder averaged 7.3 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Tyler Combest (guard), Davie Dickerson III (forward), Chaz Dixon (guard, 6.7 points), Dontay Hunter (forward) and Drew Jados (forward).
Central went 6-4 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish second behind Westerville North (8-2) and ahead of Westerville South (5-5), Olentangy Liberty (4-6), Olentangy Orange (4-6) and Olentangy (3-7).
@ThisWeekFrankAt a glance
*Record: 17-8 overall, 6-4 (second) in OCC-Buckeye
*Seniors lost: Dylan Edens, Nick Fields, Thomas Hickman, Josh McDaniel, Sean Roberts, Cam Schroeder and Solomon Wells
*Key returnees: Tyler Combest, Chaz Dixon and Dontay Hunter
*Record: Boys -- 13-0 overall, 12-0 (first) in COHSBC-A, 7-0 (first) in OCC-Buckeye; Girls -- 11-2 overall, 10-2 (third) in COHSBC-A, 6-1 (second) in OCC-Buckeye
*Seniors lost: Boys -- Alex Fleetwood, Cameron Gonce, Christian Junius, Tyler Mathieu and Ryan O'Connor; Girls -- Kirsten Miller, Madison Owsiany and Summer Snyder
*Key returnees: Boys -- Malik Curry-Brown, Zach Gonzalez, Wesley Minke, Nick Owsiak and Devon Richardson; Girls -- Reace Gonzalez, Jocelyn Grimsley and Stephanie Showalter