The Whetstone High School boys and girls bowling teams both will be represented in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.
Although neither team qualified, the Braves will have senior Nathan Vokac and freshman Josh Jones of the boys team and senior Lindsay Arnold and sophomore Alea Fuqua-Millington of the girls team competing as individuals at district.
In the boys sectional Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, Jones rolled a 568 three-game series to tie for 44th overall of 242 competitors and advance with the 12th of 16 individual district berths. Vokac posted a 564 to tie for 49th overall and earn the 14th qualifying spot.
"Nathan is going back to district and he's been our team leader all season, but he struggled late in the regular season and it was great to see him pick it back up and advance," boys coach Chris Lisi said. "Josh is a freshman with a low-key approach and is just calm and has a great demeanor. He puts a bad ball behind him and moves on."
The boys team just missed advancing, as it totaled 3,611 pins to finish 18th of 42 teams, just 33 pins shy of Olentangy Orange (3,644), which earned the 16th and final district berth.
Also competing for Whetstone were sophomore John Longar (59th, 545), senior Victor Waitkus (tied for 82nd, 513) and senior Will Stevens (108th, 482).
"We had a great day that finished a little on the down side," Lisi said. "We rolled a 905-910-848 and we were in 13th, 12th and then 16th heading into the Baker (games), but we struggled to finish in the last five Bakers. We had a 77-pin cushion going into Bakers and finished 33 pins back of the final team spot. We were excited and really looking at possibly pulling off a big upset and then came up short. We're disappointed by the finish, but it was definitely not a disappointing day. Quite the opposite.
"John Longar also just missed making it out as an individual."
In the girls sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, Fuqua-Mill-ington rolled a 492 to place 40th of 222 competitors and earn the 10th individual qualifying spot and Arnold posted a 457 to place 57th and earn the 15th qualifying spot.
The Braves finished 20th (2,848) of 37 teams, 63 pins behind 16th-place Teays Valley for the final team berth.
Senior Noa Leslie (80th, 425) also bowled three games for Whetstone. Seniors Allison Weeks (275) and Eve McCarter (272) rolled two games and senior Carrie Mullins (92) and sophomore Jillian Clark (99) competed in one.
"It's nice that the girls team also got two individuals out," Lisi said. "I know (girls coach Larry Howell) and the girls were excited about that."
At district, the top three individuals not on one of the three qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 8 (girls) and March 9 (boys) at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Season ends for young wrestlers
Four members of the wrestling team placed in a 10-team Division I sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville, but none of them finished in the top four to advance to the district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.
Sophomore Sallah Abdour-ahman was seeded second at 170 pounds and placed fifth to be a district alternate. He lost 8-3 to third-seeded Zachary Lowe of Marysville in a semifinal and then lost 18-3 to fifth-seeded Nick Copley of Dublin Coffman in a consolation semifinal before winning by pin in the fifth-place match to improve to 22-11.
"I think some of our guys were slightly over-seeded and that's because the City League wasn't too strong," coach Tom Jones said. "We tried to prepare with a few tournaments before the sectional, but those were canceled because of weather.
"We had four guys in district-qualifying matches and lost all four. It's disappointing, but maybe a little bittersweet. The good news is that it was a reality check for our young guys. We don't have a senior on the team and most of these guys were excited about our league finish. That's nice, but we've got to aim higher. Being a district qualifier means you're one of the top 16 wrestlers at your weight out of about 50. That's more of an accomplishment than finishing in the top two in the City."
Sophomore Darric McClinton placed sixth at 145. He was seeded second and lost 7-5 to third-seeded Shaun Will of Marysville in a semifinal and then was pinned in 4 minutes, 28 seconds by fourth-seeded Wyatt Gregory of Mount Vernon in a district-qualifying match before being pinned in 18 seconds by seventh-seeded Cameron Cross of Canal Winchester in the fifth-place match to finish 17-3.
Also placing sixth were juniors Johney Kincaid at 126 (16-13) and Preston Buterbaugh at 152 (14-15).
The Braves finished 10th (31.5 points) behind champion Coffman (291.5).
Also competing at sectional were juniors Mikayla Al-Damen (6-18 at 220), Hassan Sesay (23-10 at 160) and Jack Zimmerman (17-17 at 120) and freshmen Jordan Brofford (4-12 at 195) and Felix Prewitt (11-17 at 138).
"We started the season with six guys and finished with 15," said Jones, whose team finished fourth in the City tournament behind champion Walnut Ridge and lost to Walnut Ridge 54-15 in the final of the City dual tournament. "It was a big growth season in terms of numbers and in terms of learning the sport, and I'm hoping they all return next year and bring some friends with them."
Season concludes for boys basketball team
The boys basketball team couldn't maintain a strong start at top-seeded Coffman and lost 69-29 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23 to finish 4-19 overall.
The Braves, who were seeded 46th of 47 teams, trailed only 13-11 after the first quarter but were behind 32-19 at halftime and were outscored 37-10 in the second half.
Seniors Antwan Allen and Sam Barrett both scored seven points to lead the Braves.
Whetstone, which finished 3-11 in the City League-North Division to place seventh behind co-champions Beech-croft and Northland (both 12-2), also are losing seniors Aljondre Grace and Andrieck Jones.
Among the expected returnees are juniors Jaden Arledge, Ibrahim Bangura, Rashaun Broomfield and Alex Timmons and sophomore Caleb Brigle.