Bill Pritchett had an idea that his St. Charles Preparatory School bowling team would have a standout season, but the second-year coach wasn't expecting such an early wake-up call.
The Cardinals opened Dec. 3 with a 2,132-2,126 loss to DeSales, but the setback didn't stand in their way for long. They tied the Stallions for the CCL championship for the second year in a row and finished the regular season with a program-best 14-2 overall record.
St. Charles defeated DeSales 2,016-2,002 on Jan. 7 in the second meeting and sealed its second consecutive co-title with a 1,898-1,663 victory over Ready on Feb. 13. The Cardinals went 7-1 in the CCL and also finished 10-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-D Division, second behind the Stallions (12-0).
"I expected us to do well this year. I expected us to win our (COHSBC) division and the CCL, but it wasn't easy," Pritchett said. "We didn't look back after that loss (to DeSales). The kids began to learn that it's both a team sport and an individual sport, and they are starting to learn they can go as far with a team as they can as individuals."
The Cardinals' other loss came against Eastmoor Academy, 2,033-1,978 on Jan. 24. Senior Grant Flory, who leads St. Charles with a 193.3 average, was not able to compete in the match after having a minor weather-related auto accident en route to Eastland Lanes.
"That was a tough one," Pritchett said. "We were without Grant, who drove into a snow bank, and Dino (Cloasurd) wasn't able to make it either. Eastmoor is a good team, but we wish we could play that one again."
Flory is one of two four-year bowlers for the Cardinals, along with Dominick Koeth.
"I think because we lost that (match against DeSales), we pushed ourselves to win the next ones," said Koeth, who has a 177.9 average. We didn't put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We just started to bowl the way we knew that we could. (The loss) was a good learning lesson."
Flory was medalist in the win over Ready with a 365, and Koeth added a 344.
"We expected to do pretty well," Flory said. "We lost some (bowlers to graduation), but we came back pretty strong. I think it's been good, and everyone is confident and ready for sectional."
The Cardinals will compete in the Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at HP Lanes. The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district March 2 at HP Lanes.
Even though HP Lanes is the Cardinals' home facility, Pritchett doesn't believe they have an advantage because of ever-changing oil patterns.
"Each house is so different. It can come down to the type of oil that they buy is different. You can't even tell (the expected oil pattern) in the house we are used to bowling in," Pritchett said. "The house isn't the key factor. It's what type of oil, how it is laid down, when they put it down and so many other factors."
Aurnou-Rhees, Elsrod lead swimmers to state
Will Elsrod and Spencer Aurnou-Rhees will represent the swimming and diving team in two individual events apiece in the Division I state meet Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Elsrod, a sophomore, finished third in the 100-yard breaststroke (57.72 seconds) and 200 individual medley (1:53.68) at district Feb. 15 at Ohio State. He is seeded 12th in the 100 breast and 14th in the 200 IM at state.
Aurnou-Rhees, a freshman, is seeded 15th in the 200 IM (1:53.82, fourth at district) and 17th in the 500 freestyle (4:39.56, seventh).
Elsrod also swam on the seventh-seeded 200 medley relay (1:33.6, first) with Mitchell List, Alex Nash and Jon Sugar, and Aurnou-Rhees joined Nash, Sugar and Griffin Beam on the 14th-seeded 200 free relay (1:26.29, third).
"This will be my first time at state either in a relay or an individual event," Elsrod said. "I'm excited for it. I want to drop more time and help get the medley relay in the top three."
Sugar is the ninth seed in the 50 free (21.18, fourth). He also competed in the 100 free (47.61, 10th) at district but did not advance.
List was second in the 100 breast (57.43) and is seeded 11th at state. He also participated in the 100 butterfly (53.92, 16th) but did not advance.
The Cardinals were runners-up (281 points) behind Dublin Jerome (301) as 27 teams scored.
"I think we did pretty well," List said.
"We were seeded to lose to Jerome by 34 points and we cut it to 20, so that's pretty good. We qualified more to state than we did last year. We're a young team and getting better."
Hockey team reaches district quarterfinal
The hockey team plays fourth-seeded New Albany in a quarterfinal of the district tournament Saturday, Feb. 23, at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The fifth-seeded Cardinals are 16-9-3-1. They are 1-1-1 against New Albany this season, winning 2-1 on Dec. 8, tying the Eagles at 2 on Jan. 4 in Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division play and losing 4-3 on Feb. 7 in the first round of the Blue Jackets Cup.
The winner advances to a district semifinal Sunday, Feb. 24, against top-seeded Jerome or 10th-seeded Dublin Coffman at the Ice Haus.
The district final is March 2 at the Ice Haus.
The Cardinals had a first-round bye before defeating 16th-seeded Centerville 7-1 on Feb. 17. Jack DeVita and Diego Pitones both scored twice.
Wrestlers preparing for sectional tourney
The wrestling team competes in a Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 23, at Marysville.
The top four finishers in each weight class qualify for district March 1 and 2 at Mentor.
The Cardinals finished second in the CCL duals Feb. 13 at Ready, defeating DeSales 54-23 before losing to Hartley 58-24 in the championship match.
St. Charles then placed eighth (95) in the 12-team Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 16 at home behind champion Coffman (336).
Sean Grim won the title at 170 pounds.
Steve Metzger (152) finished fourth and Will Humphrys (182) and Aidan Snyder (132) both placed sixth.
Basketball team preps for Cruisers
The 23rd-seeded basketball team opens Division I district tournament action Saturday, Feb. 23, at 21st-seeded Groveport.
The Cardinals lost to the Cruisers 56-54 on Feb. 2 as Jared Frey had 18 points with four 3-pointers.
Alex Lohiser scored 14 points and Spencer Martin added 11.
The winner plays at 17th-seeded Thomas Worthington on March 1 in the second round. St. Charles finished the regular season 12-8 overall and 4-4 in the CCL after losing to DeSales 55-47 on Feb. 15. Victor Searls led with 20 points.