The Whetstone High School girls bowling team is aiming to extend its streak of Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference championships to five and its string of district appearances to six this season.
However, achieving those goals could prove difficult, according to sixth-year coach Larry Howell.
"We don't have that one bowler who just takes over a match, so we will need consistency from the whole team to win this season," Howell said. "We do have five returning bowlers who know what we expect and what our goals always are. We are solid at all five spots."
The Braves are in their sixth season as a program and were led by standouts Bailey Waitkus and Abbi Swank for years, but Waitkus graduated in 2017 and Swank graduated last spring.
The returnees are seniors Lindsay Arnold, Noa Leslie, Carrie Mullins and Allie Weeks and junior Alea Millington-Fuqua.
"We will heavily rely on Lindsay, Noa and Alea to lead the team in scoring," Howell said. "They were three bowlers who progressed the most last season."
Last season, Arnold averaged 152 pins per game, Millington-Fuqua averaged 139.1 and Leslie averaged 139, as the Braves went 15-4 overall, won the COHSBC-C Division at 9-0, beat Eastmoor Academy to win the City League championship and finished 13th in the Division I district tournament.
Newcomers are senior Eve McCarter and sophomore Jillian Clark.
"We're going to need five solid scores in every match, so I think Allie Weeks and new bowler Eve McCarter will determine a lot about how this team will finish in the league and City League race. They have the potential to score well for us in matches."
Whetstone was 1-1 overall before competing against Teays Valley on Dec. 17 and Westerville South on Dec. 19.
The Braves, who will return to action Jan. 7 against Olentangy at Delaware Lanes, lost to Centennial 1,584-1,371 in their opener Dec. 4 and beat Worthington Christian 1,812-1,744 on Dec. 5.
The boys team will need to replace its top three scorers from last season when it finished 13-6 overall and went 8-2 in the COHSBC-C to tie Worthington Christian for second place behind Northland (10-0).
The Braves have returned their lone district qualifier from a year ago in senior Nathan Vokac, who finished 52nd of 105 competitors at district with a 475 three-game series. He averaged 151.6 last season.
Also returning is senior Victor Waitkus, who averaged 158.9.
"Nathan is only a second-year bowler, but he is my level-headed model of consistency," fifth-year coach Chris Lisi said. "Nothing gets him down. Like Victor, he takes his role as a leader with the young kids very seriously. Victor is the only kid I've coached for four years. He is our heart and energy. He is constantly working with our younger bowlers in practice."
The Braves lost three key bowlers from last year in 2018 graduates Josh Roeder (198.1 average), Davis Kleen (189.5) and Dalton Daugherty (168.1).
Newcomers are seniors Nick Partridge and Will Stevens, junior Michael Vedovato, sophomore Josh Longar and freshmen Josh Jones and Xavier Millington-Fuqua.
"Will Stevens had to wait his turn behind the last two years of great bowlers such as Davis Kleen and Josh Roeder," Lisi said. "He's a young man of few words, but his smile and energy bring great chemistry to the upperclassmen.
"I have younger kids pushing the older kids on a daily basis. I have two great captains in Victor and Nathan and two very promising freshmen. These kids are the most coachable I've ever worked with."
The Braves lost their first two matches, falling to Centennial 1,974-1,865 and Worthington Christian 1,986-1,915.
"We don't have that stud bowler that's going to throw a 400-plus (two-game) series on a regular basis like I've had the last four years," Lisi said. "We have a lot of average kids working to improve and become more consistent in hopes of competing for a City League championship and getting at least one individual to qualify for the district tournament."
Ave leads girls team in home swim meet
Junior Olivia Ave had a pair of runner-up finishes to lead the girls swimming and diving team to a fourth-place finish in the six-team Braves Invitational on Dec. 10 at Columbus Aquatics Center.
Competing in her first meet with the Braves, Ave, a transfer from Village Academy, finished second in both the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 30.38 seconds) and 500 freestyle (5:51.35).
The Braves totaled 94 points to finish behind Marysville (204), Grove City (143) and Watkins Memorial (105) and ahead of Marion Harding (67) and Wellington (62).
The boys team finished sixth (57) in the meet behind Grove City (204), Watkins Memorial (162), Marysville (81), Wellington (79) and Marion Harding (58).
Matthew Conroy had the Braves' top finish, placing third in the 500 free (6:17.87).
Boys basketball team out to slow start
The boys basketball team was 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the City League-North Division before playing Northland on Dec. 18.
After lopsided losses to Dublin Scioto (59-35 on Nov. 30) and Thomas Worthington (72-44 on Dec. 1), the Braves were more competitive in their next two games, but fell 64-53 to Granville on Dec. 5 and 72-62 to Linden-McKinley on Dec. 11.
Whetstone led Granville 40-39 entering the fourth quarter before being outscored 25-13. Caleb Brigle led the Braves with 18 points.
Against Linden, Antwan Allen had 19 points, Sam Barrett scored 18 and Brigle scored 14.
On Dec. 14, the Braves lost to Beechcroft 71-47 despite getting 23 points from Brigle. Barrett added 12 points.
*Dec. 4 -- Centennial at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Dec. 5 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes
*Dec. 17 -- Teays Valley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Dec. 19 -- Westerville South at Sequoia Pro Bowl
Jan. 7 -- Olentangy at Delaware Lanes
*Jan. 8 -- Haugland Learning Center at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 11 -- Columbus Academy at HP Lanes
*Jan. 14 -- Northland at Sequoia Pro Bowl
Jan. 16 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 17 -- Briggs at Stardust Lanes
*Jan. 22 -- International at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 24 -- West at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 28 -- Village Academy at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Feb. 1 -- Bexley at Holiday Lanes
*Feb. 4 -- Marion Franklin at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Feb. 7 -- South at Sequoia Pro Bowl
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 21 -- At Mifflin
Dec. 22 -- Worthington Christian at Mount Vernon Nazarene
*Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Mifflin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 22 -- Wellington Holiday Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center