Bryan Mengel knows all about disappointment.
Just days before the season started, the senior on the Big Walnut boys bowling team had to undergo an emergency appendectomy, forcing him to miss the team's opening match Nov. 19 against Worthington Christian.
The news was much worse for Mengel as a sophomore. A week before the season started, he learned that a hand jury would force him to miss the entire season.
"It was definitely a bummer," Mengel said of missing his sophomore season. "There were some seniors on the team that year I had bowled with my freshman year, and I was really looking forward to having a nice season with them."
The Golden Eagles finished 10-5 overall in 2017-18, their best record since going 7-6 in 2011-12.
With the adversity behind him, Mengel is having his best season as one of the top bowlers in the COHSBC, averaging 196.2 pins per game, with a high game of 254 and a high two-game series of 448 before competing in the Coach's Challenge on Feb. 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
As a junior, he averaged 183, with a high series of 459.
Before Feb. 8, Mengel ranked 22nd in the COHSBC and sixth in the COHSBC-A Division.
"He's about the unluckiest kid," coach Scott Morrison said. "But once he healed up from the surgery and came back from Christmas break, he's just been lights out."
Mengel is leading a boys team that is 8-8 overall and finished 5-6 in the COHSBC-A and 3-4 in the OCC-Buckeye. The Golden Eagles have two regular-season matches remaining against Hilliard Darby on Tuesday, Feb. 11, and Teays Valley on Friday, Feb. 14.
Brayden Buchs (181.6 average, high series 432), Connor Tracy (172, 501), Adam Wilhelm (168.5, 389) and Andrew Hettinga (167.1, 406) were the Golden Eagles' other top scorers before Feb. 8.
Mengel chalked up much of his performance this season to experience but also noted his patience and focus on "the next shot."
"Instead of getting worked up over missed spares, I just focus on a new frame and know I can make up for those pins I lost," he said. "I've really just taken a more-relaxed approach."
Mengel spent time on his game last summer and concentrates on different aspects of it in practice.
"I'm done learning all the fundamentals," he said. "It's more about pinpointing one thing. For example, there have been a few practices where I'll only focus on shooting the seven pin because it's a common pin that I leave being a left-handed bowler."
Morrison described Mengel as "the most-coachable kid" he's had in his four seasons leading the program.
"He's tall and lanky, so his approach was very fast because his steps were long," Morrison said. "We taught him how to slow it down, adjust his angles and trust his ball more. He really put a lot of work on his corner game. He has the smoothest release I've ever seen."
Girls basketball team preps for postseason
The girls basketball team will close the regular season Wednesday, Feb. 12, at home against Worthington Christian. It then will have more than a week to prepare for its Division I district tournament opener.
Big Walnut, which is seeded 11th of 48 teams, has a first-round bye and will play host to 19th-seeded Dublin Jerome or 35th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a second-round game Feb. 21.
The Golden Eagles were 14-5 overall and 6-3 in the OCC-Capital before playing Franklin Heights on Feb. 7.
In a 39-31 win at Marysville on Feb. 4, Avery Schone had a team-high 14 points.
Big Walnut was outscored 16-3 in the first quarter en route to a 64-27 loss to Newark on Jan. 31.
The boys team travels to Groveport for its regular-season finale Friday, Feb. 14.
The Golden Eagles were 10-9 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Capital before playing Franklin Heights on Feb. 7.
Jared Kreager had 11 points and Caleb Conrad scored 10 in a 74-47 loss to Marysville on Feb. 4.
Swimmers open postseason at sectional
Members of the swimming teams competed in a Division I sectional Feb. 8 at Thomas Worthington.
The winner of each swimming event automatically advanced to the district meet Thursday, Feb. 13, at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event qualify for the state meet Feb. 21 and 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large berths will be awarded in each event based on times statewide.
Divers begin their postseason at district. The boys compete Wednesday, Feb. 12, and the girls compete Thursday, Feb. 13, at Ohio State.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 14 -- At Groveport. The Golden Eagles lost to the Cruisers 54-51 on Jan. 10.
Feb. 12 -- Home vs. Worthinagton Christian
Feb. 11 -- Hilliard Darby at Ten Pin Alley
Feb. 14 -- Teays Valley at Capri Lanes
Feb. 11 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Darby
Feb. 8 -- Competed in Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament at Marysville. Regional champion advances to state Feb. 16 at St. John Arena.
*Feb. 13 -- At New Albany