The Westerville Central High School girls bowling team will be looking to win central Ohio's first state team championship when it competes Saturday, March 3, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

The Westerville Central High School girls bowling team will be looking to win central Ohio's first state team championship when it competes Saturday, March 3, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

It will be the Warhawks' fourth appearance in the state tournament, which began in 2007.

"Our first goal is to make the qualifying cut from 16 (teams) to eight," said coach Julie Wells, whose team finished third last season, second in 2010 and sixth in 2009. "From there, it becomes match play and anything can happen then. One bad game ends it. So we have to stay focused from frame to frame."

Last season, St. Marys Memorial needed a roll-off to earn the eighth seed in match play then beat top-seeded Coldwater en route to winning the state championship by beating Hubbard.

Central captured its fourth consecutive district championship when it totaled 3,603 pins in the three individual games and six Baker games Feb. 24 at HP Lanes. Cardington (3,585) and Gahanna (3,415) also advanced as the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team qualified for state.

Central senior Mary Wells rolled the high series with a 673 (279-180-214) as Cardington junior Morgan Edgell (621) was second.

"I was feeling pretty good and started well, but the second game was a little rough for me," said Mary Wells, the coach's daughter who won an individual state title in 2010 (729) and finished third (630) last season. "I ended up with a good game. I just tried to stay positive and not get down on myself."

Also for the Warhawks, senior Simona Firestone was 16th (512), senior Brittney Grega tied for 23rd (492) and senior Cassie Spicer had a 371 in two games.

Austin Elliott (fifth, 585) and Esther Elliott (10th, 537) joined Edgell to give Cardington three of the top-10 scorers.

Gahanna will be making its first state appearance after leading all teams at district with a 1,008 total in Baker games. For the Lions, senior Sarah Lebowitz was ninth (539), junior Kelly Ferguson was 11th (527) and senior Harmony Kirtos was 15th (514).

"I put a lot of pressure on my seniors because they've been here four years and can handle it," coach Mike Mauger said. "We knew after the regulation games, we were close. We just had to keep pushing in the Bakers. The girls are very excited to make it to state for the first time."

Pickerington North junior Brittany Beeghley finished third overall (593) and was the top individual qualifier.

"Toward the end of the second game, I was bowling pretty well and I was confident because I looked around and some of the girls who had strong first games weren't real excited, so I had a feeling they dropped off a bit," Beeghley said. "But I didn't want to get ahead of myself. So I just tried to focus frame to frame like I always do. I'm pretty excited to be the first from my school to go to state."

Also advancing were Westerville South's Kate Reid (fourth, 591) and Jessica Shambaugh (sixth, 562). The Wildcats (3,353) finished fourth, 62 pins behind Gahanna.

•The boys district tournament Feb. 25 at HP Lanes had a dramatic finish as five pins were the difference between third-place Whitehall (3,769) and fourth-place Westerville South (3,764), and fifth-place Newark (3,763) was one pin behind South.

The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament Friday, March 2, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Jonathan Alder (3,962) won the team title and Westerville North (3,884) was runner-up.

"This is fantastic," Whitehall coach Tavi Netotian said. "Our anchor, (junior) Chad Clites, struck out in the 10th frame and that was the difference. Every pin, every frame counted."

Clites' strong 10th frame allowed Whitehall to close the sixth and final Baker game with a 184. South appeared destined to earn the third state berth, but faltered with a 125 in the last Baker game. Newark, which was in third place entering the Bakers, had a 170 in its finale.

The team finish also rearranged the individual state-qualifying positions. South junior Zach Pannell (689) had the high series. Walnut Ridge sophomore Wayne Russell Jr. (624) was fourth overall and Olentangy Liberty freshman Mike Shiner (619) was fifth.

Had South held off Whitehall in the final frames, Delaware Christian senior Jeffrey Copley (603, sixth) would have earned an individual state berth.

Jonathan Alder, which will be making its second state appearance after finishing 16th in 2010, was led by freshman Zach Webb (588), junior Jaron Miller (556) and freshmen Nathan Yoder (550) and Nathan Whiting (549).

"This is the most balanced team I've had in my four years," coach Rusty Walker said. "Last year we won sectional with three strong seniors and didn't bowl well at district. This year we have three strong freshmen, so we want to place at state with this young team. We feel good about how we've grown and this will give us a good base for next year."

North led the tournament with a 2,836 after the three regulation games, but was outscored 1,189-1,048 by Jonathan Alder in the Bakers.

Senior Cody Larochelle (652) was second overall and senior Sean Archibald (625) was third for North. Junior Matt Patterson (552) and senior Ryan Clark (551) followed.

"We stumbled out of the gate in the Bakers, but we had a talk and the boys started to make every ball count," North coach Dean Dabe said. "This will be our third trip to state in our nine-year history and it's the first time we've finished above third at district, so we're ecstatic right now. Three years ago, we placed 10th at state. We want to be in the top two this time."