When Libby Erwin walks the halls at Hartley High School, she occasionally needs to be escorted by a classmate so that she doesn't bump into lockers.
The junior has her license, but currently she's not able to drive.
Those are among the complications Erwin has experienced because of a bout of vertigo that she's endured off and on for more than three years. She might be feeling close to her best when she's at a bowling alley competing with the Hawks' girls team.
In addition to developing into the program's top bowler in her third year with the team, Erwin has found the sport to be physically helpful in dealing with her condition.
"It's funny because bowling is kind of therapy," Erwin said. "It helps me because I can focus on one thing, and I just feel better after it. As soon as I do my homework, it feels worse afterwards, so this is my only relief."
According to webmd.com, vertigo often is caused by an inner-ear problem and is a "sensation of feeling off balance," with dizzy spells during which "you might feel like you are spinning or that the world around you is spinning."
Erwin first experienced vertigo during a club volleyball practice as an eighth-grader. Her vertigo went away the day before she began her freshman year at Hartley and she played softball later that school year.
Then last May while competing in the shot put and discus for the Hawks' girls track and field team, her vertigo returned.
"The balance system is basically shot," Erwin said. "Walking is kind of hard. It's harder with overstimulation, so with big crowds and overwhelming things. I can't drive right now, so it's frustrating. (Bowling is) kind of my outlet. Bowling is the No. 1 thing, and also going to the gym."
Despite her limitations, Erwin has taken big steps forward in terms of her bowling skills. She missed advancing to the Division I district tournament last season by just three pins and bowled a season-high game of 211 during the Central District Preview tournament Feb. 3 at Columbus Square Bowling Palace.
In Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference action this season, Erwin averaged 156.6 in 24 games to lead the Hawks.
"We're trying acupuncture, and it's starting to help her a little bit," said Jennifer Erwin, Libby's mother. "It's been a real challenge for her, but she's a trooper and is still fighting to make it to states this year."
Erwin and her teammates will compete in the Division I sectional tournament Friday, Feb. 22, at HP Lanes, where the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes.
There have been times during matches where Erwin has needed to take breaks or be replaced by a teammate because of dizziness, but according to first-year coach Chris Blum, "she communicates really well with it."
"She started off a little bit slow but had to get back into the swing of things," Blum said. "For the last month and a half, two months, her average has increased by probably 30 pins. I've been incredibly impressed. She's really, really hit a groove. She's a really tough kid and a really good kid, too."
The girls team closed the regular season Feb. 12 by beating Beechcroft 1,466-1,002 to finish 9-4 overall and 8-2 in the COHSBC-D Division.
The boys squad beat Beechcroft 2,103-2,075 on Feb. 12 to finish 11-4 overall and 9-2 in the COHSBC-D.
On Feb. 16 in the Division II sectional at HP Lanes, the Hawks finished 14th (3,442) of 32 teams behind champion Caledonia River Valley (4,047) as the top 12 teams advanced to district Thursday, Feb. 21, at HP Lanes.
Advancing individually were Victor Jackson, who tied for 12th (612) at sectional, and Jack Shisler, who finished 31st (545).
At district, the top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
"We have lots of new seniors that have never done this before and lots of new freshmen, so it's been an interesting year, but we're doing very well," Erwin said. "We're hoping to go to districts.
"I actually didn't bowl before my freshman year because I did volleyball, but I was like, 'You know what, I'll try it.' I'd never picked it up before freshman year and have been stuck with it ever since then. I love it."
Wrestlers earn sixth straight CCL title
The wrestling team captured its sixth consecutive CCL dual championship Feb. 13 by beating host Ready 54-6 in a semifinal and St. Charles 58-24 in the final.
Ready beat DeSales 27-12 in the third-place match. Watterson, which didn't field a team the past two seasons, did not participate in the CCL duals but is expected to rejoin the league next year.
Seniors Keegan Moran (145 pounds), Griffin Rathburn (195) and Nate Jackson (heavyweight) have been a part of the last four CCL championships.
Against Ready, Moran won 2-1 over senior Andrew Halko, a Division III state qualifier the past two seasons.
The Hawks open the postseason with a Division II sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Licking Valley, where the top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 1 and 2 at Heath.
"It feels pretty good," Moran said. "The CCL has been pretty competitive the last couple years and I'm just glad we got a legacy and that we're going to keep it going for a while."
Swimmers compete for state berths
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams both finished third at the Division II district meet Feb. 14 at Ohio State, with the girls scoring 211 points to place behind Columbus School for Girls (355) and Columbus Academy (300) as 24 teams scored and the boys scoring 179 to place behind Academy (251) and Olentangy Berlin (206) as 37 teams scored.
The state meet is Thursday, Feb. 21, and Friday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Qualifying for state automatically were Harold Conigy in boys diving (339.55 points, third) and the girls 200-yard medley relay of Kayla Williams, Mia Phillips, Deanne Archambeau and Cara Luallen (1 minute, 50.41 seconds, second).
Conigy is seeded 17th at state and the 200 medley relay is the 11th seed.
"Hopefully, we can just drop more time and place well," Phillips said. "That relay has been to state the past two years, so we'll just hopefully keep improving."
Also advancing for the boys was Owen Kennedy, who placed third in the 100 backstroke (56.95) and is seeded 16th.
Also moving on for the girls are Archambeau, who placed fourth in the 100 butterfly (57.78) and is seeded 14th, and the 200 free relay of Archambeau, Luallen, Williams and Emma Simone, which placed fifth (1:42.41) and is seeded 23rd.
The boys 200 medley relay of Kennedy, Chad Kegelmayer, Sam LeMay and Daniel Walker finished third (1:42.99) at district but missed advancing to state by .01 of a second.
"Everybody pretty much swam personal-bests, so they're all feeling pretty good," coach Tony Phillips said. "We had a little bit of a flu bug run through the team (last) week, but those two or three swimmers battled hard today and threw down some good times."
Girls basketball team to begin postseason
The 16th-seeded girls basketball team will open the Division I district tournament with a second-round game Friday, Feb. 22, at 13th-seeded Hilliard Darby.
The winner will play fourth-seeded Watterson or 20th-seeded Pickerington North in a district semifinal Wednesday, Feb. 27, at a site to be announced. That winner will face second-seeded Newark, 26th-seeded Dublin Jerome, 27th-seeded Westerville Central or 45th-seeded Briggs in a district final March 2 at Ohio Dominican.
Hartley lost three of its last four games of the regular season and is 12-9 heading into the postseason.
Boys basketball team preps for tourney
The boys basketball team was 11-8 before closing the regular season with games Feb. 19 at Whitehall and Feb. 20 at home against Johnstown.
The Hawks are the fourth seed for the Division II district tournament and open the postseason March 2 with a second-round game against 10th-seeded Eastmoor Academy or 22nd-seeded Caledonia River Valley.
Morgan Safford scored 43 points, including making 15 of 17 free-throw attempts, during the Hawks' 68-64 triple-overtime loss to St. Charles on Feb. 8. During that contest, he surpassed 1,000 career points.
Safford followed with 39 points in a 72-50 victory over Circleville New Hope Christian on Feb. 9 and had 1,075 career points before Feb. 19.
"I never scored over 300 points in a (previous season)," Safford said. "It was special because it was a personal accomplishment and I was able to achieve this milestone without sacrificing the team's success."