Officially, the DeSales boys bowling team had played four matches entering the week.
It only felt like a lot more to senior Isaiah Thomas, who feels like the team's depth lends itself to increasingly competitive practices given how hard each of the Stallions must work to maintain their spot in the lineup.
"We're at each other's necks every day," Thomas said. "We take it so seriously. (Practices) are like a match."
With five bowlers back from last season, including the Stallions' only Division II district qualifier in junior James Jackson, the boys team was 1-1 overall and in the COHSBC-D Division and 0-1 in the CCL before a match against Hartley on Dec. 12 at Capri Lanes.
Eight bowlers scored for DeSales through two matches, with four of them averaging 164.5 pins per game or better in Thomas (186.3), sophomore Andy Karas (173.25), freshman Caden Lester (173) and senior Andrew Swift (171).
Thomas' 222 game in a 2,104-2,035 loss to St. Charles on Dec. 6 at Capri Lanes was the team's best on the season before Dec. 12.
"I trust my team and I know they're going to do what they must to get a win," Swift said. "It's about being a collective team and doing what we all have to do."
The boys opened Dec. 4 with a 1,755-1,033 win over Columbus East at HP Lanes.
The girls, who are led by junior and returning Division I state qualifier Skyla Blumenscheid, beat East 1,542-1,081.
The boys went 16-2 overall last season as well as 12-0 in the COHSBC-D to finish two matches ahead of runners-up Eastmoor Academy and St. Charles (both 10-2) and 7-1 in the CCL to tie St. Charles for first place, three games ahead of third-place Hartley (4-4).
The girls went 5-9 overall, 5-4 in the COHSBC-D to tie Independence for fifth (5-4) behind champion Watterson (11-0) and 1-5 to CCL to finish fourth behind the champion Eagles (6-0).
Second-year coach Miranda Singer said spare shooting improved during the offseason, especially for the boys.
"They are all pretty well rounded and communicate with each other very well," Singer said. "The boys feed off of one another a lot and you can tell the more they do, the better they are. The boys have a few new additions to the team this year as well, so my expectations are higher than ever knowing what we accomplished last year."
Rounding out the boys roster are senior Will McAfee-Witherspoon, junior Bryan Ritzler and sophomore Patrick Anderson.
The boys also finished 14th (2,841) of 32 teams in the Westerville Central Baker Marathon on Dec. 7 at Columbus Square Bowling Palace as Fairport Harding won (3,285). The girls placed 20th (1,906) of 27 teams behind champion Gahanna (2,803).
Blumenscheid, who finished 71st of 104 individuals at state last year, was the team's first state qualifier since Singer advanced as a senior in 2013.
Blumenscheid led the Stallions against East with a 363 two-game series.
"I expect and hope Skyla can make it to state once again," Singer said. "It was such a confidence booster for her and an amazing accomplishment for the girls. The girls have a few new members that fit in just like they should."
The girls team also returned seniors Olivia Houlihan, Catharina Le and Audrey Nave and junior Ella Otu-Danquah from last season and added freshman Alexis Reynolds.
Cua stands out for gymnastics team
Only three of the gymnastics team's six competitors participated in a season-opening tri-meet Dec. 6 against Big Walnut and Olentangy at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading, but one got off to an especially strong start in sophomore Gianna Cua.
Cua won all four events and the all-around, leading the Stallions to 90.95 points and third place behind the Braves (119.9) and Big Walnut (107.95).
Cua scored 9.0 points on uneven bars, 8.7 on balance beam, 8.3 on vault, 8.15 on floor exercise and 34.15 in the all-around, and repeated that sweep four nights later in a four-team meet at Thomas Worthington when DeSales finished second (121.2) behind the Cardinals (124.6) and ahead of Delaware (121.15) and Buckeye Valley (59.2).
"Gianna will be good in everything. Every event will stand out for her," second-year coach Misty Lloyd-Matthews said. "Lauren Mahle has impressed me. She's always been a strong tumbler so our floor will come together. They're all-arounders, too. I don't know that one event stands out more than another."
Senior Mykaella Romain also returns for DeSales, which finished 21st in the district meet last season to fall short of a state appearance and was shorthanded Dec. 6 because of injuries.
Missing the meet were sophomore Cidney Barron and freshmen Michayla Northrup and Alex Shaw.
"We have a lot of new talent coming in," Lloyd-Matthews said. "We're rebuilding, but we look good."
Girls basketball team preps for Classic
A few familiar teams are in the field for the girls basketball team's annual Roosters Stallion Holiday Classic to be held Dec. 27 and 28, but the event nonetheless will have something of a new look.
In addition to the host Stallions, New Albany and Olentangy Orange also have new coaches this season. The Eagles are in the Roosters Stallion Holiday Classic for the second year in a row.
Rounding out the field is Upper Arlington, which is appearing for the second time in three years and is coached by DeSales graduate Chris Savage.
UA will play New Albany and the Stallions will play Orange in the semifinals Dec. 27. The championship and consolation games are the next day.
"There is certainly a theme of new beginnings," Stallions coach Erick Herzberg said. "Upper Arlington enters a new era as well after graduating (all-time scoring and assists leader) Macy Spielman (who now plays at Bowling Green). We are looking forward to an exciting tournament."
DeSales is 3-3 overall entering a Saturday, Dec. 21, home game against Whetstone. The Stallions began last week with a 39-22 win at Mount Vernon on Dec. 9 in which they outscored the Yellow Jackets 24-3 in the middle two quarters, and beat visiting Grove City 48-30 on Dec. 12 before a 51-21 loss at Dublin Scioto on Dec. 14.
Erin Burns had 13 points against Mount Vernon and 10 against Grove City, and Katie Schuler scored 13 against the Greyhounds.
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 20 -- At Ready
Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Dresden Tri-Valley
Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Whetstone
*Dec. 20 -- Linden-McKinley at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 19 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 21 -- Hartley and Olentangy Berlin at Mount Carmel Fitness Center