The Hilliard Darby High School gymnastics team is hoping to replace one of the program's all-time top athletes with depth this season.
Three-time state qualifier Chloe Shook was one of three gymnasts lost to graduation, but the Panthers have one of their largest teams in program history with 20 athletes.
"Darby has a large team with lots of talent and depth," said 17th-year coach Carol Eskay, who also guides the Bradley and Davidson programs. "There's a lot of competition within the roster, so they will be pushing each other. Our lineup could be evolving most of the season. It'll definitely be interesting."
Among the returnees who competed in the district meet last season are junior Scarlett Evans and sophomores Kate Kline, Jenna Hartwell, Bailey Miller and Laurel Bonn. Also returning are seniors Reema Ayesh and Hailey Hacker and juniors Yadi Englert, Caitlin McCann, Emma McCann, Marissa McKee and Mikenna Spring.
Completing the roster are sophomores Madison Brokaw and Michaela Hamet and freshmen Annamarie Bayer, Ella Clement, Anne Hassay, Rachel Jackson, Chloe Lidle and Samantha Saulino.
"Bailey Miller, Laurel Bonn and Jenna Hartwell are some of our top returnees with experience and I expect Kate Kline to be in that group as well," Eskay said. "We've got some real strong newcomers in Madison Brokaw, Anne Hassay and Annamarie Bayer. I think I could put about 18 of those girls on any event and be comfortable. That's how deep they are.
"We'll know more by mid-January. I'll be evaluating them at every practice and in every meet because that's how difficult it will be on me to make a lineup and also to get the girls some experience. It's a fluid situation. The good news is that they have experience, good leadership and they all work hard with great attitudes and teamwork, so we're all excited about this season."
In the 14-team Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 15 at Davidson, the Panthers finished second (131.975) behind Dublin Jerome (136.05), as Hassay placed second (35.575) of 104 competitors in the all-around after finishing first on balance beam (9.125) and placing second on floor exercise (9.1), vault (8.85) and uneven bars (8.5).
Bayer placed third on beam (8.825), tied for sixth on floor (8.75) and was 12th in the all-around (31.775). Miller was fifth on beam (8.725) and Hartwell was 10th on floor (8.625).
Also in the all-around, Miller finished 17th (31.15), followed by Kline (18th, 31.125), Hartwell (19th, 30.95) and Bonn (20th, 30.9).
Bowling teams have 'lots of potential'
The bowling teams are looking to build on the success they had last season.
The girls team must overcome the graduation losses of Ash Roberts and Gillian Tinney and the loss of senior Zoe Paxhia-Poppaw, who did not return this season.
Last season, the Panthers finished 13-1 overall, won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division title at 11-0 and went 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal to place second behind Delaware (6-0).
"We've got a young team overall despite having a few girls back from last year," first-year coach Jill Logan said. "I'm excited to see what they can do. I think both teams have lots of potential."
Logan, who teaches at Hilliard Station, volunteered to replace Bob Clute, who guided the program for 10 seasons.
"I bowl a little, but my husband has bowled a lot and he's my assistant and takes care of most of the fundamental things," Logan said. "I deal with the paperwork and the mental and emotional parts of it."
Senior Emily Betteridge is the top returnee after finishing 65th of 102 competitors in the Division I district tournament last season with a 394 three-game series. Tinney (26th, 474) and Paxhia-Poppaw (45th, 428) also were district qualifiers last season.
Also returning from last year's postseason lineup is sophomore Lyndsey Seagraves. Other returnees are sophomores Sarah Leming, Callie Mann and Jayde Martin.
Completing the roster are freshmen Emily Decker, Jameson Lavigne and Claudia Rodriguez.
The Panthers were 1-2 before a match against Groveport on Dec. 18, having lost to Newark 1,407-1,349 on Dec. 4 and Worthington Christian 1,702-1,394 on Dec. 10 and having defeated Reynoldsburg 1,550-1,285 on Dec. 14.
The lone senior on the roster, Betteridge was averaging 146.8 pins per game through three matches, followed by Seagraves (138.5), Decker (131) and Leming (121.5).
Junior Josh Larsen, who was an individual district qualifier last season, is the top returnee for the boys team, which finished 9-5 overall a year ago. Larsen finished 42nd (493) of 105 competitors at district.
Other returnees are seniors Nick Carter, Jalen Clisby and Christian Meister.
Completing the roster are seniors Mason Bowers and Nate Ryan and juniors Michael Beard and David Maleh.
"The boys team is scoring pretty well, but they opened against some strong competition," Logan said. "The boys said they had a better team total against Newark (in a 2,438-2,281 loss on Dec. 4) than they had all last season.
"They've made great strides already and I can see them getting to district and contending to get to state by the time it's all over and we've put all of the pieces together. But they've got to figure out the lanes and make adjustments."
The Panthers were 0-2 before the match against Groveport, having lost to Newark and Reynoldsburg (2,273-1,930 on Dec. 14).
Bowers had a 213 average through two matches, followed by Larsen (186), Maleh (166.5), Beard (163.3), Meister (157) and Clisby (154.5).
Both teams return to action Jan. 10 against Pickerington Central at Ten Pin Alley.
*Dec. 4 -- Newark at Park Lanes
Dec. 10 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes (girls only)
*Dec. 14 -- Reynoldsburg at Holiday Lanes
Dec. 15 -- Pioneer Baker Bash at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Dec. 18 -- Groveport at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 10 -- Pickerington Central at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 14 -- Lancaster at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 16 -- Davidson at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 17 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes
*Jan. 18 -- Delaware at Colony Lanes
*Jan. 23 -- Thomas Worthington at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 24 -- Olentangy Berlin at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 29 -- Whitehall at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 30 -- Gahanna at Ten Pin Alley
*Feb. 4 -- Pickerington North at Ten Pin Alley
*Feb. 8 -- Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Dec. 12 -- At Davidson with Bradley, Central Crossing, Franklin Heights, Grove City and Westland
Dec. 15 -- Hilliard Invitational at Davidson
Dec. 19 -- at Marysville with Bradley and Davidson
Jan. 8 -- at Upper Arlington with *Bradley, Davidson and DeSales
Jan. 12 -- McGee Invitational at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 17 -- at *Worthington Kilbourne with Bradley and Davidson
Jan. 21 -- Olentangy Invitational
Jan. 29 -- at *Thomas Worthington with Bradley and Davidson
Jan. 31 -- at Davidson with Bradley, Coffman, *Dublin Jerome, *Dublin Scioto and Thornville Sheridan
Feb. 4 -- at Davidson with *Delaware, *Olentangy Berlin, Olentangy Liberty and Bradley
Feb. 9 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Thomas
Feb. 13 -- at Davidson with Bradley and Dresden Tri-Valley
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 21 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Dec. 23 -- Watterson at Quicken Loans Arena
*Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
Dec. 23 -- Watterson at Quicken Loans Arena
*Dec. 20 -- At Worthington Kilbourne