Julie Wells, who helped mold the Westerville Central High School boys and girls bowling teams into two of the top programs in the district, has stepped down after 12 seasons as coach.

She also has resigned as assistant general manager at Columbus Square Bowling Palace.

“I made a change in my career path, which meant I was not able to have the time to coach the kids, so I had to give that up,” said Wells, who previously coached the girls team at Westerville South. “I just couldn’t do them both with the new job. It was tough to give up.”

Wells said she will be replaced by Tony Gonzalez, who will oversee both programs after having coached the junior varsity girls team last season.

“I have the utmost confidence in him,” Wells said. “He has two kids in the program. He’s been around us for three years. He’s an experienced softball coach, so he has coaching in his blood. He has a bowling background also, so I can’t wait to hear nothing but good things.”

Among the highlights during Wells’ tenure at Central was guiding the boys team to the Division I state championship in 2017, its first state title.

“It’s one of the top memories,” Wells said. “I have a lot of great memories. I still keep in contact with a lot of the kids, who are now 30-plus years old, married with children. It’s going to be a change. It was a great ride and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Under Wells, the boys team has won four consecutive Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference titles, while the girls won titles in 2011, ’12 and ’13. The boys also have won four consecutive OCC titles and six overall, while the girls won OCC titles in 2012 and ’13.

Wells was named ThisWeek Coach of the Year in boys bowling this past season, in which Central went undefeated in COHSBC and OCC-Buckeye Division matches, won district and sectional titles and reached the state tournament for the third consecutive year.

“I’ll always be a fan,” Wells said. “They may see me lurking in the shadows during an event because after 17, 18 years of coaching, I can’t quit cold turkey. I’ll have to at least visit.”

Ryan O’Connor, a 2018 Central graduate, competed for the boys team the past four seasons and credits Wells for the Warhawks’ success.

“She helped me more than anyone in the world,” O’Connor said. “She made me who I am today, leader-wise and as a person. … I told her the rule is since she’s retired she has to have her phone on nonstop because she’s going to be getting texts from every one of us because we love her so much.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank