The competitor in Austin Snyder knew he had more to improve for his senior season with the Groveport Madison boys bowling team, as he participated in only two games for the Cruisers all of last year.

Plus, Snyder had another letter to earn.

Snyder, who last fall became the boys soccer program's all-time leading scorer and doubled as the football team's kicker during the best season in program history, also made himself an indispensable part of the bowling team this winter.

Snyder's average of 180.2 pins per game was second only to Hunter Rathburn's 184.7, helping the Cruisers to records of 12-3 overall, 9-3 in the COHSBC-B Division and 5-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Groveport will try to extend its season when it participates in the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 29, at HP Lanes.

Snyder took up the sport as a junior and rolled a 142 and 187 in his two varsity games.

He exceeded that in his first match this season, Dec. 2 against Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, with a 195. He bowled a career-high 268 on Jan. 17 against Whitehall at the same facility.

"I really didn't know much (about bowling entering last year), but coach (Christi Middendorf) has helped me a lot just knowing the game and knowing the oil patterns and teaching me how the game is played," said Snyder, a Findlay football recruit. "I wasn't hesitant at all about coming back this year. I just wanted to keep bowling."

Snyder also is trying to finish second on Groveport's all-time letterwinner list. His great-grandfather, 1939 graduate Mac Simms, earned 27 letters and an award for the school's top senior male athlete is named in his honor.

Snyder had 12 letters entering bowling season -- four in soccer, four in football, three in baseball and one in bowling. He finished with 61 career goals for the soccer team, including 23 last season as the Cruisers won their first league championship.

Middendorf said the reason for Snyder's improvement is simple.

"Attitude," she said. "Not only have I worked with him on bowling, I've worked with him with some growing-up skills, think-before-you-speak-type things. I work on all that, too. Part of the role of coach is being a mom, too.

"He's willing to ask for help. He's learned to trust me a little bit more and is willing to seek my advice when he doesn't know something or is trying to get better."

Snyder said he is better at picking up spares, especially the 10 pin.

"Last year, I couldn't pick it up to save my life," Snyder said. "This year, coach has taught me to focus in, look at one spot and throw it and trust that I'm doing the right thing."

Led by Jake Benline's 570 three-game series, which tied him for 21st out of 270 individuals, the Cruisers finished 16th (3,498) of 47 teams at sectional Feb. 21 at HP Lanes behind champion Reynoldsburg (3,998) and earned the 16th and final district berth by 17 pins ahead of 17th-place Olentangy Liberty.

At district, the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state March 6 and 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

Also scoring were Hunter Rathburn (31st, 553), William Lawson (tied for 175th, 325), Brandon Cordle (181st, 311) and Jeremiah DeLong (228th, 176).

The girls team's season came to an end Feb. 22 when it finished 29th (2,564) of 42 teams in the sectional at HP Lanes, behind champion Westerville Central (3,653).

Jessica Clayton tied for 65th (423) of 192 individuals, followed by Amanda Comehn (tied for 112th, 372), Suzie Francis (132nd, 352), Kayla Sheets (169th, 274) and Makayla Harold (tied for 175th, 258).

Wrestlers prepare for sectional

The wrestling team will begin the postseason Saturday, Feb. 29, in a Division I sectional at Newark.

On paper, that might be the toughest of the district's four sectionals as top-seeded Dublin Coffman and second-seeded Lancaster both are participating. Cruisers coach Brian Brison chose to turn that into a positive for his team, but only if they wrestle well enough to advance to district March 6 and 7 at Hilliard Darby.

"We're really excited. It's perfect for what we wanted. The (best) teams chose (their sectional) first and it's guesswork as to where everybody else will go," Brison said. "You have those two super-good teams there and it's good to see them at sectional because then at district, you'll be separated from them for the first couple rounds."

After Coffman and Lancaster, the next best seed at Newark is 24th-seeded Westerville South. The Cruisers are seeded 27th of 47 teams in the district.

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district.

"That guy who's on the bubble then has a chance to get to district (given the parity)," Brison said. "But at the end of the day, you have to wrestle and beat somebody good to achieve your goals."

Girls season ends with tourney loss

The girls basketball team's season came to an end Feb. 15 with a 68-34 loss at seventh-seeded Gahanna in the first round of the Division I district tournament, and coach Eugene Love couldn't help thinking that the Cruisers could have had a considerably better year had they been healthy.

Groveport, which was seeded 38th of 48 teams and finished 5-17 overall, battled injuries the entire season. Among other injuries, junior forward/center Sha'Ron Whatley was out for much of the year, and Love found himself filling the bench with junior varsity players late in the season just to have enough girls to fill the roster.

"Had we not had all these injuries, I think we could have finished a lot better than we did," said Love, whose team lost seven consecutive games to end the season. "I thought we could at least go .500 and hang better with teams we've played close. That's just how the season finished up."

Junior guard Casey Humph-rey's 16 points led the Cruisers against Gahanna. Groveport trailed 23-10 after the first quarter and 45-21 at halftime.

"Where we finished, I figured we'd end up playing probably one of the top five or six seeds," Love said. "There's been a big learning curve."

Groveport went 2-8 in the OCC-Capital to finish fifth behind champion Newark (10-0).

Humphrey was named second-team all-league and freshman forward Tracy Taylor was honorable mention all-league.

Other players eligible to return include juniors Sey Ba (forward) and Monique Davis (forward) and sophomore Alauna Nguyen (guard).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave