The results that the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys and girls bowling teams have produced this season don't indicate the adversity both have endured.
The boys team lost one of its top expected bowlers to ineligibility and had another miss time with ineligibility, but it broke 2,100 points in each of its first 12 matches and was 12-0 overall before a match against New Albany on Feb. 13.
The defending Division I state champion girls team, meanwhile, has just two bowlers with extensive varsity experience, but also was 12-0 overall before competing against New Albany on Feb. 13.
Both teams are 11-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division and captured OCC-Central titles with 6-0 records.
"Coming off a state win, I know it's important to bond," senior Taylor Burns of the girls team said. "That's what the new freshmen are coming in and experiencing. It's definitely a building year for us, but I love what I'm seeing from the girls."
Junior Nathan Minzler has similar sentiments about the boys team, which he believes is hungry after settling for a fourth-place finish at the Division I district tournament last season to fall one spot shy of a state berth.
"I've been in the program for three years now and we're just bonding and being together and being more of a family," Minzler said. "After missing state last year, it's really given us a drive to work more."
The girls team is preparing for the Division I sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes and the boys will compete in the sectional Feb. 23 at the same site.
Minzler had a 203.4 average through 11 matches to lead the boys. Senior Dalton Cararo, who became eligible in January, was averaging 194.4 through his first 10 games.
Seniors Jaylen Clark and Spencer Watson and sophomores DeAndre Quiero and Hunter McKnight also consistently have bowled in the 180s for the boys team.
"We've fought through some things," boys coach Cris Ferrante said. "(Having) Dalton Cararo was a big part of us winning against Reynoldsburg (2,398-2,367 on Jan. 25). Nathan Minzler is still our No. 1, but since (Cararo) came back, (he's) been close, too. Everyone else has been consistent."
Sophomore Lilu Smith and Burns, who were averaging 185.7 and 174.8, respectively, through 11 matches, are returnees from the state title team. Burns has committed to play for Wright State.
Juniors Aubree Packer and Jalynn Johnson and freshmen Kaitlyn Mundshcenk, Victoria Richardson and Lindzi Oakman also have been key contributors.
"It's been awesome," girls coach Yvonne Quiero said. "The girls are really working together. They're having fun and that's important to keeping a positive attitude for the matches and tournaments. Most importantly, the newer kids are learning how to manage their anxiety and excitement."
Boys team looks to get back on track
Despite having two freshmen as well as a group of juniors who had seen limited varsity action entering this season, the boys basketball team managed to secure its 12th consecutive winning season.
Not surprisingly to coach Tony Staib, there have been developmental moments along the way.
Guard Sean Jones, who was averaging 13 points through 20 games, and Josh Whiteside, a 6-foot-6 forward, are freshmen.
"Both Sean and Josh Whiteside are playing varsity for the first time, and there's a jump moving from middle school to varsity basketball," Staib said. "It's just a learning experience. This experience this year will make them ready to roll next year as sophomores. To be able to have this experience as freshmen is huge."
Junior guards Phillip Pontious, Nate Staib and Travis Whittaker and junior wing player Zane Leitwein also have been asked to be a part of the rotation that surrounds senior guard Elijah Thomas, who was averaging 15 points.
The Lions are 14-7 overall and 4-5 in the OCC-Ohio after beating Lancaster 64-51 on Feb. 8 and close the regular season Friday, Feb. 15, at Pickerington Central.
Gahanna then will turn its attention to the Division I district tournament, which begins with a first-round game Feb. 23 against 30th-seeded Dublin Scioto. The Lions are the 15th seed.
"We're very proud of this group," Staib said. "They've come to practice to work every day and they compete at a high level every game."
Swimmers, divers to compete at district
Members of the boys and girls swimming and diving teams are competing in the Division I district meet Thursday, Feb. 14, and Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State.
Boys diving will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 14, while girls diving is at 2 p.m. and boys and girls swimming is at 2:30 p.m. the next day.
The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 21-23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
In diving, the top four finishers for boys and top five finishers for girls advance to state.
On Feb. 9 in a sectional at Thomas Worthington, the boys finished third (179.5 points) of 15 teams behind New Albany (358) and DeSales (307) and the girls were second (192) of 14 teams behind New Albany (363).
For the boys team, McCord Riegler was runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 1.54 seconds), Johnny Belli placed third in the 100 butterfly (55.06) and fourth in the 100 backstroke (55.73), Logan Marks was fourth in the 100 freestyle (49.62), the 400 free relay of Austin Wharton, Jacob Sherman, Marks and Caleb Gilger placed third (3:28) and the 200 free relay of Sherman, Riegler, Marks and Nathan Vogelgesang was fourth (1:32.49).
For the girls squad, Reagan Reetz was first in the 500 free (5:16.15) and runner-up in the 200 free (1:57.8), Eloise Fisher finished first in the 100 breast (1:08.22) and third in the 200 individual medley (2:14.14), the 200 medley relay of Kendall Hitler, Sami Kiss, Lydia Gilger and Fisher was third (1:52.59), Lydia Gilger placed third in the 100 breast (1:09.44) and fourth in the 100 fly (58.98), Hitler was third in the 100 back (1:00.81) and the 400 free relay of Rylee Slisher, Reetz, Mackenzie Massman and Hitler finished fourth (3:53.18).
Wrestlers getting set for postseason
The wrestling team closed its regular season Feb. 9 by finishing 11th (78 points) of 18 teams behind champion Marysville (187) in the All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome.
The Lions, who finished 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio, open the Division I postseason Feb. 23 with a sectional at Watkins Memorial.
In the All-North Tournament, Cristian Salazar captured the title at 113 pounds, Charles Williams (120) and Luke Garbark (170) both placed fourth, Dylan Kankiewicz (152) placed fifth and Nate Garbark (182) finished sixth.
Hockey team to begin for district tourney
The hockey team received the 21st seed for the district tournament and will open at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, against 18th-seeded Kettering Alter at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The winner plays sixth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller at 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Ice Haus, with the winner advancing to face third-seeded Olentangy Liberty, 19th-seeded Olentangy Berlin or 22nd-seeded Troy at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 23 at the same site.
On Feb. 6, the 16th-seeded Lions opened action in the Blue Jackets Cup consolation tournament by beating 17th-seeded Scioto 5-2 in a play-in game at Chiller Dublin. Hayden Sindledecker had two goals and goaltender Matt McElligott made 22 saves for Gahanna, which then lost to ninth-seeded Moeller 6-0 in a first-round game Feb. 8 at the Ice Haus to fall to 9-23-0-1.
Athletes announce college decisions
Four football players announced their college commitments during the February signing period that began Feb. 6.
Jayden Hill and Percy King will play for Ohio Dominican, C.J. Kiss will compete for Notre Dame College and Riley Lutsko will play for Ohio Northern.
Also announcing their commitments were Audra Ledbetter and Samantha Lindsey, both of whom will play softball for Wittenberg; Mallory Beach, who will play women's soccer for the University of Charleston; and Nickolas Stanisovski, who will play men's soccer for Urbana.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 15 -- At Pickerington Central. The Lions lost to the Tigers 63-54 on Jan. 11.
Feb. 16 -- Home vs. 35th-seeded Logan in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays host to 41st-seeded Franklin Heights in second round Feb. 22. The Lions are seeded eighth.