Considering the Pickerington High School Central girls bowling team returned four of its top five bowlers from a year ago, little about its fast start surprises third-year coach Jason Roach.

Considering the Pickerington High School Central girls bowling team returned four of its top five bowlers from a year ago, little about its fast start surprises third-year coach Jason Roach.

The Tigers also are making the most of having only six bowlers, as they benefited from a clear-cut lineup through the first two weeks of the season.

Senior Amber Griesemer, juniors Molly Federer and Abigail Hill and sophomore Emily Dennis are back to lead Central, which was 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division before a Dec. 15 match against Teays Valley.

"We have four returning starters, and Abigail and Emily can really get hot at any time," Roach said. "Molly has evolved this year, and we added a few girls (senior Hannah Yarger and sophomore Iyanna Bruce). They will end up being OK.

"They learn from each other. They take care of that themselves, especially Abigail. She knows she is expected to be one of the top bowlers, so they listen to her and follow her lead. It's good, because she kind of knows what she is doing."

Hill, who was a Division I district qualifier last season, had a 195.1 game average through five matches to lead Central, followed by Dennis (139.1), Griesemer (137.9), Yarger (117.5) and Federer (95.4).

"Mostly with Molly, it's because she changed the ball. She has to work on her spare game, but she is getting better," Roach said. "Iyanna has to establish herself. She is not quite with some of those other girls yet, but she is brand-new. It will come with time."

Central is 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio, having lost to Newark 1,988-1,571 on Dec. 7 and defeated Groveport 1,652-1,472 on Dec. 10. The Tigers resume OCC-Ohio competition Jan. 14 against Pickerington North at Rule 3.

Central's other wins were against Marion-Franklin (1,444-604 on Dec. 1), Columbus East (1,597-793 on Dec. 2) and Columbus West (1,438-987 on Dec. 4).

District-qualifier Jordan Kozak is the only returnee for the boys team, which was 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the COHSBC-South before Dec. 15 and is 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio. He tied for 20th (593 three-game series) of 127 competitors at district last year, as the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state.

Kozak had a 169.8 average through five matches to lead a tight pack, just ahead of junior Adrian Jackson (169.3), sophomore Jaret Negron (163.8), freshman Evan Tailford (154.3) and freshman Ethan Fisher (143.5).

Rounding out the roster are seniors Jacob Pineda and Nicholas Tsardoulias and sophomore Tristan Peppers.

Central defeated East (1,742-1,299) and West (1,917-1,675) and lost to Marion-Franklin (1,897-1,732), Newark (2,145-1,976) and Groveport (2,122-1,947).

"A lot of kids are getting better equipment. I think that has helped us a lot," Roach said. "And we are practicing a lot more than we have in the past. Whereas we might have practiced one or twice a week, these kids want to practice every day, and it's showing.

"Obviously, we still have some wrinkles. Right now, we are trying to figure out who will be our top five or six bowlers. We're not there yet, but we are getting close."

North boys aiming for state tourney

Third-year North coach Mike Rossi acknowledges that it's a small sample size. But for an example of the consistency he hopes his boys team enjoys all year, he cited a 2,375-1,854 win over Reynoldsburg on Dec. 7 at Holiday Lanes.

Not only did his five bowlers finish within 57 pins of each other, but two with potentially unorthodox styles caught fire in the second game.

Senior Kyle Lee and sophomore Jarrett Powers, both of whom use an unconventional two-handed release, combined for 14 strikes on the same lane as the Panthers pulled away.

"Jarrett is the key. He is the fifth bowler we need," Rossi said. "If he stays that consistent, we've got a shot.

"When we started last year, he was going one-handed, the conventional method. He switched to two hands during the offseason, and it made a huge difference in his game. Kyle did the same thing between his first and second years, and his average went up about 30 pins last year. This year, I think it will be even better."

North's entire roster has returned from last season, when the Panthers finished 17-2 overall and placed sixth in the Division I both sectional and district.

Also on the team are seniors Brendan Leas and Quentin Nietz, junior Chris Hoyle and sophomore William Hrivnak,

North was 2-0 overall and in the COHSBC-South before a Dec. 15 match against Independence and is 1-0 in the OCC-Ohio. The Panthers opened Dec. 2 with a 2,555-1,686 win over Briggs.

"They almost got us (to state last season)," Rossi said. "We have a shot this year. That's all we can ask for. As long as they can stay strong with their mental game once we get toward districts, if we can get past that (district) barrier ... we were so close last year."

North has enough competitors to field a girls team this season.

The Panthers bowled just one match in the first two weeks of the season, losing to Briggs 2,431-1,367. Their roster consists of senior Allison Boldt, sophomores Alex Oppenheimer and Alayah Robinson and freshmen Gena Dokins, Katie Kezel and Lara Martindale.

Boldt led the Panthers with a 323 two-game series against Briggs, followed by Oppenheimer (302), Robinson (257), Kezel (201) and Martindale (103). According to Rossi, Kezel and Martindale are first-year bowlers.

"Alex and Alayah and Allison, you can tell they have bowled before," Rossi said. "By the end of the year, I bet we will win our fair share of matches."