A new era in Whitehall-Yearling High School girls bowling has begun with a new coach and an almost completely new cast.
Lorie Shaw, a longtime contributor to the area in bowling, has replaced Jess Biller as coach. Biller stepped down after 11 seasons in which he guided the Rams to success at the local and state levels.
Whitehall has competed in four consecutive Division I state tournaments, but must replace nearly its entire lineup after finishing ninth (3,195) of 16 teams in qualifying play at state last season.
"It's a new team," Shaw said. "Of course I want them to win. These girls get along so well and they've improved so much from the first day. I'm very proud of them. We have a long way to go, but they've come a long way."
The Rams kicked off their dual-match schedule by falling to Worthington Kilbourne 1,580-1,379 on Dec. 7 at Holiday Lanes.
Senior Bayla Bonner is the only returnee from last season, but she saw limited time on varsity.
"Everybody is a leader," Bonner said. "We just do our thing. We're good. We'll do our best. Coach Shaw wants us to do our best in everything. Coach Biller did, too."
Junior Jessica Gress competed as a freshman but sat out last season because of juvenile arthritis. She led the Rams with a two-game 286 against Kilbourne, and Bonner followed with a 228.
The match was the Rams' Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division opener. Last season, they finished first in the COHSBC-D at 10-0 and won the MSL-Ohio tournament.
Juniors Kamden Pauley, Payton Parks and Kayla West and sophomore Chelsee Cress are new to the team.
"I always have fun with the girls," Shaw said. "It's been a good transition. I am enjoying every minute of it."
Shaw, who said she began bowling in central Ohio at 4 years old, is familiar with the program because her son, Brandon, is in his fourth season on the boys team.
This is Shaw's first coaching position. Her father, Jim, helped form Whitehall's bowling program.
Alexis Kefauver, a 2016 graduate and former bowler in the program, is serving as an assistant coach for the boys and girls.
The Rams have big shoes to fill with the graduation of Makayla Barber, Alexis Stiffer and Madison Stiffler. Alexis and Madison, along with 2018 graduate A.J. Stiffler, who competed on the boys team, are triplets.
Madison Stiffler, who is bowling at Wright State, closed her prep career by finishing fourth at state with a 660 three-game series to earn first-team all-state honors. Barber tied for 21st overall and finished second among area bowlers with a 590, and Alexis Stiffler tied for 71st (485).
Boys bowling team opens with league win
The boys bowling team returns a solid group, with Brandon Shaw, senior Jason Kefauver and sophomore Elias Rozzelle at the top of the lineup.
The Rams opened league play by defeating Kilbourne 1,850-1,857 as Shaw (457), Kefauver (399) and Rozzelle (321) led the way.
"We made it to state last year as a team," Shaw said. "We didn't make it very far, but this year and in the upcoming years as long as we keep improving at the rate that we are and keep working hard, we'll be able to get to state again."
Senior Devin Skinner and sophomores Nick Minor, David Sattler and William Saunders are new to the team, which also includes freshmen Dillon Fooce, Kameron Lees, Nathan McGrath, Sam McQuate and Casmir Szczepaniak.
"We were looking at slim numbers then all of a sudden these kids walked in, but none of them have any experience," said coach Tavi Netotian, who is in his 12th season.
Last season, the Rams won the COHSBC-D title at 12-0 and finished 13th (3,116) of 16 teams during qualifying play at state. They also won the MSL-Ohio tournament.
Kefauver led the Rams at state, finishing eighth with a 654 series to earn second-team all-state honors.
The boys team also has moved to the COHSBC-B.
Wrestlers finish fifth in home tournament
The wrestling team finished fifth (120) in the six-team Dan Gartner Duals on Dec. 8 at home behind champion Pickerington Central (263).
Bradley Holley finished first at 170 pounds and Jace Peck was second at 138 to lead the Rams.
The annual tournament's namesake died Nov. 26 after a long illness.
Boys basketball team out to good start
The boys basketball team was 3-0 overall before playing Mansfield Senior on Dec. 12.
The Rams opened MSL-Ohio play with a 38-21 win over visiting Bexley on Dec. 8. Charles Miller led Whitehall with 14 points.
Whitehall defeated Independence 54-41 on Dec. 4 as Royal Sibley scored 16 points and Taylon Cofer added 13.
Girls basketball team enjoying early success
The girls basketball team was 3-2 overall before playing Lakewood on Dec. 10.
The Rams lost 46-41 at Bloom-Carroll on Dec. 4 as Kiara Bagley scored 17 points.
Whitehall opened MSL-Ohio play with a 42-37 win at Bexley on Dec. 1 as Bagley scored 13 points and Jewel Watkins added 10.
Dec. 1 -- Red & Blue Classic at HP Lanes
*Dec. 7 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Holiday Lanes
Dec. 8 -- Holiday Baker Marathon at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 13 -- Pickerington North at Rule 3
*Dec. 17 -- Reynoldsburg at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 18 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
*Jan. 7 -- Pickerington Central at Holiday Lanes
*Jan. 11- Hilliard Bradley at Wayne
Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 14 -- Groveport at Holiday Lanes
*Jan. 17 -- Hilliard Davidson at Ten Pin Alley
Jan. 19 -- Muskingum University Invitational at Park Lanes
Jan. 26 -- Jaguar Baker Marathon at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 29 -- Hilliard Darby at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 30 -- Thomas Worthington at Holiday Lanes
Feb. 2 -- MSL tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Feb. 4 -- Gahanna at Holiday Lanes
Feb. 9 -- COHSBC tournament at HP Lanes
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:
Dec. 15 -- Home vs. KIPP Columbus
*Dec. 15 -- Home vs. Grandview
Dec. 19 -- At Wellington
Dec. 15 -- Grapple at the Castle in Ona, W.Va.