As she and her teammates began to prepare for pre-match exercises Jan. 14 at HP Lanes, junior Lilu Smith got a smile on her face when she began thinking about what it's been like to compete for the Gahanna Lincoln girls bowling team.
"There's always something happening that will lighten the mood," Smith said. "It's always good to know we work well together."
The Lions have found a lot to like about a regular season that has included many of the same successes they've enjoyed the past several seasons.
Gahanna beat Pickerington North 2,251-1,609 on Jan. 15 at Rule 3 and had won 71 consecutive COHSBC matches before competing against Reynoldsburg on Jan. 22 at Holiday Lanes. The Lions' last COHSBC loss was during the 2014-15 season.
"The team has performed well and we look forward to what the future may bring," coach Yvonne Quiero said. "We practice hard and remain focused. The girls have set goals for themselves as a team and they want to achieve those goals. Every one of our girls contributes to this team in their own way. Each bowler has a role in each and every match or tournament. They may be on the lane, but they're all important to the overall success of the team."
Smith has been a key part of the success.
She bowled a 375 two-game series as Gahanna beat Hilliard Davidson 1,986-1,657 on Jan. 14 and was third in the COHSBC with a 199.0 average while the Lions were 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the COHSBC-B Division before Jan. 22.
Seniors Jalynn Johnson and Aubree Packer and sophomores Lindzi Oakman, Kaitlyn Mundschenk, Tori Richardson and Addison Watson all had a 150 average or higher before Jan. 22 as well.
"Our focus going forward is staying positive, keeping our physical game sharp and executing that physical game with precision," Quiero said.
The boys team also was 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the COHSBC-B after beating Pickerington North 2,408-2,338 on Jan. 15 at Rule 3 and before a match against Reynoldsburg on Jan. 22.
On Jan. 14, the Lions posted a season-best score in a 2,433-1,882 win over Davidson.
Senior Nathan Minzler was among the leaders in the COHSBC with a 214.7 average before Jan. 22.
Juniors DeAndre Quiero and James Walther and sophomores Kevin Foit and Eddy Pax also have been key contributors for the Lions.
"What I see with the team is that we're really starting to bond and connect with each other," Minzler said. "The relationships we're building this year are really strong and we're really able to connect with everyone and not leave anyone out. It's one big family instead of a couple individuals."
Minzler, who had a 171.9 average in the COHSBC as a freshman but averaged 204.1 as a sophomore and 200.1 last season, believes his work with private coach Ron Hatfield has helped him continue his growth as a bowler.
"I definitely see an increase on our skills," Minzler said. "A lot of the guys take private lessons and we've really improved our game. We're not just focused on the winter season, but we're practicing and competing all year long. Three of the guys compete individually throughout the summer and fall and that's really allowed us to get a one-up on most other teams which maybe only have one bowler that bowls all year long. Especially on the mental side, (Hatfield has) really helped me to stay calm and know when I need to change something. That's really improved my game tremendously."
Wrestling squad continues OCC action
The wrestling team is 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio entering its home match against Reynoldsburg on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Junior Charles Williams went 3-1 at 132 pounds to finish second in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Jan. 11 at Hilliard Bradley to lead the Lions, who finished last (41 points) in the eight-team event behind champion Lancaster (239).
Williams, who won 28 of his first 30 matches, competed in the Greco-Roman competition at the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet Freestyle and Greco-Roman nationals last summer in Fargo, North Dakota.
"He's doing really well," coach Mike Flusche said. "He's having a really good season so far. He worked really hard in the offseason."
Seniors Torian Rachel (152) and Paolo Dragin (160/170), junior Ricky Alli (170/182) and freshman Griffin Flusche (220) also have had strong seasons, according to coach Flusche.
"Paolo is a senior who did a lot of club," coach Flusche said. "He was a first-year wrestler last year and he's really coming on and is really athletic but just lacks some experience. For a second-year wrestler, he's doing really, really well. Ricky is a good athlete who wrestles at 182 and I'm hoping gets down to 170. Griffin's just picking it up. I said if you want to play football, you've got to wrestle, and he started in seventh grade. He's had a big growth spurt."
Boys basketball team clamping down
During its OCC-Ohio contest Jan. 10, the boys basketball team held defending league co-champion Pickerington Central to two points in the fourth quarter.
That exclamation point to a 44-42 victory has been part of a trend that has taken place with the Lions this season.
Gahanna held 14 of its first 15 opponents to 50 points or fewer. The Lions beat Reynoldsburg 58-50 on Jan. 17 to improve to 6-0 in the league and were 15-0 overall before facing New Albany on Jan. 21.
On Jan. 18, Gahanna routed Logan 77-45.
"I've been very pleased with our defensive effort," coach Tony Staib said. "If we can maintain that and keep battling on the defensive end, that's huge."
With sophomore guard Sean Jones leading the way, the Lions also have been getting it done offensively.
Jones had 18 points, junior wing player Jarius Jones scored 16 and junior forward Maceo Williams scored 12 in a 67-52 victory over Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 7 and Sean Jones scored 21 against Central.
On Friday, Jan. 24, Gahanna will play host to Pickerington North in an OCC-Ohio contest. The Lions beat the Panthers 44-42 on Dec. 13. North shared the league title with Central at 9-1 last season.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Pickerington North. The Lions beat the Panthers 44-42 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 24 -- At Pickerington North. The Lions beat the Panthers 80-24 on Dc. 13.
*Jan. 24 -- Dublin Scioto at Sawmill Lanes
*Jan. 27 -- Groveport at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 29 -- Hilliard Darby at Ten Pin Alley
*Jan. 23 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller Easton
Jan. 25 -- Cincinnati Sycamore at Chiller Springfield
*Jan. 26 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller Easton
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Kenyon College
*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Jan. 25 -- Utica Invitational