Big Walnut High School bowling coach Scott Morrison hasn't forgotten where his girls team was three years ago.
The Golden Eagles finished just 2-12 in 2015-16, but went 6-9 the next season and 10-6 last season before setting their highest victory total this winter by finishing 15-2.
Also this season, Big Walnut made its first state tournament appearance, tied for second in both the 12-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division and the eight-team OCC-Buckeye and set many personal records.
"Every girl broke their personal record, and we had (senior) Caitlyn Lambert set the school record for a two-game series with a 493," said Morrison, who completed his third season as head coach but was an assistant coach in 2015-16. "The girls all raised their averages by 15 to 30 pins from last year."
Kaitlyn Morrison, the coach's daughter and one of six seniors, led Big Walnut at the Division I state tournament March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, rolling a 534 three-game series to finish 31st of 104 competitors.
Senior Autumn Leidtke was next with a 481 (56th), followed by freshman Ashleigh Westervelt with a 447 (72nd), senior Anna Tanner with a 419 (tied 76th) and Lambert with a 405 (78th), as Big Walnut finished 15th (2,686) of 16 teams in the qualifying round.
The top eight teams advanced to the championship round, where Centerville beat Beavercreek 3-2 in the best-of-5 Baker games to win the title. Massillon Perry (3,060) earned the final berth for the championship round.
Big Walnut qualified for state by finishing second (3,629) in the 16-team district tournament March 2 at HP Lanes behind Westerville Central (3,785). Morrison led the Golden Eagles, placing second of 104 competitors with a career-best 636 three-game series.
Briggs' Dakota Fink won the district title with a 708.
Morrison also led Big Walnut with a 182.1 average in COHSBC action, ranking seventh in the entire conference. She was followed by Tanner (166.4), Westervelt (155.8), Lambert (153.2), Leidtke (149.4), senior Ale Hernandez (131.8) and senior Faith Myers (104).
The boys team concluded its season at district, where it finished ninth (3,701) of 16 teams behind champion Central (4,243).
Sophomore Brayden Buchs finished 37th (567) of 106 bowlers to lead Big Walnut, followed by senior Johnny Lemaster (44th, 560), junior Bryan Mengel (66th, 520), senior Jacob Bowens (67th, 512) and senior Erin Hoover (tied for 89th, 313 in two games).
Lemaster led the Golden Eagles with a 189.4 average in COHSBC action, followed by Bowens (183.5), Mengel (183), Hoover (181), Buchs (159.1), sophomore Jacob Gillispie (156), sophomore Jacob Greathouse (154.8), junior Andrew Hettinga (145.9) and sophomore Riley Shumaker (135.8).
"They'll be further ahead than the girls (team) will be next season, with Bryan Mengel back and a couple sophomores who rotated in and out of the varsity lineup," coach Morrison said.
Boys basketball team had successful season
The boys basketball team posted its first Division I postseason victory and its most wins in nearly two decades.
Seeded 26th in the district tournament, the Golden Eagles lost to third-seeded Pickerington Central 49-39 in a semifinal March 6 to finish 15-9 overall, their best record since going 15-6 in 1999-2000.
Big Walnut, which moved up to Division I in 2015-16, opened the postseason March 1 with a 59-52 win over 15th-seeded Gahanna in a second-round game. The Golden Eagles had lost to the Lions 77-55 in the first round last season.
Big Walnut is losing five seniors in guards Jordan Koebel (6.8 points per game), Brody Lawhun (8.7 ppg) and Nathan Montgomery (8.2 ppg) and forwards Carson Becker (7.7 ppg) and Sam Elliott (4.7 ppg).
Montgomery was named second-team all-OCC-Capital and honorable mention all-district and Koebel was honorable mention all-league.
The Golden Eagles went 6-4 in the OCC-Capital to place third behind Newark (8-2) and Canal Winchester (7-3).
"You can't say enough about our seniors," coach Brett Bartlett said. "Some of those kids were kind of thrown into the mix as sophomores and they probably weren't ready, but they stuck with it and continued to buy into what we were doing as a program, worked hard and were able to get that significant win (over Gahanna)."
Leading the expected returnees is junior post player Kegan Hienton, who averaged a team-high 14.9 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Junior forward Jackson Podraza (4.6 ppg), junior guard Lincoln Bullock (2.3 ppg) and sophomore guard Jagger Barnett (6.0 ppg) were other contributors.