A tight opening match in the championship round of the Division I state tournament only seemed to sharpen the focus of the Gahanna girls bowling team March 7 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
After coming back from a 1-0 deficit to beat fourth-seeded Cincinnati Seton 3-2 in a quarterfinal, the fifth-seeded Lions beat top-seeded Springfield 3-1 in a semifinal to set up a match with sixth-seeded Fairborn for the title.
Gahanna won the first Baker game 171-157, lost the second 158-122 but won the third 162-158 and the fourth 200-177 to capture its second state championship in three seasons.
“We struggled a little bit today, but once the girls got their energy back, that’s what it took to propel us through,” Lions coach Yvonne Quiero said.
During regulation action, Gahanna led after the first game and finished with a 3,086 to be seeded fifth behind first-place Springfield (3,340) as the top eight teams advanced to the championship round.
Westerville Central was seeded seventh with a 3,036 and finished seventh overall after losing to Wapakoneta in four games in a quarterfinal of the championship round, while Olentangy finished 12th (2,905) and Delaware placed 15th (2,809) of 16 teams.
Junior Lilu Smith, who also was a key contributor when Gahanna won its first state title in 2018, finished 10th in regulation (594 three-game series) behind champion Ashley Falke (641) of Springfield.
Also for Gahanna, sophomore Kaitlyn Mundschenk finished 17th (577), sophomore Addison Watson was 27th (548) and seniors Aubree Packer and Jalynn Johnson and sophomore Lindzi Oakman also competed.
“It’s really amazing to be back,” Smith said. “Energy and our positivity (got us through). We just kept cheering each other on as much as we could.”
Briggs senior Dakota Fink, a four-time state qualifier, finished sixth (616) to earn second-team all-state honors along with Smith.
“It’s emotional,” Fink said. “It truly means a lot. It’s wonderful, but I’m sad it’s over.”
Whitehall senior Jessica Gress finished 16th (582) to miss making honorable mention all-state by one spot. The Rams competed at state when she was a freshman, but she did not see action that day.
“It was very overwhelming being my senior year, having an opportunity to come back out here,” Gress said.
Walnut Ridge senior Raya Dye, a first-year bowler, finished 53rd (492).
Central was led by freshman Deja Curry-Brown, who placed 19th (567), followed by senior Reace Gonzalez (26th, 552) and junior Stephanie Showalter (55th, 486).
The Warhawks lost the first Baker game to second-seeded Wapakoneta 180-150, won the second 203-173 but lost the third 170-152 and the fourth 179-151.
“We had goals (and making it to the championship round) was one of them,” Central coach Tony Gonzalez said. “I’m still very proud of the way they bounced back here. It was overall a great experience.”
Olentangy was led by sophomores Hannah Lamar (21st, 566) and Savanna Claar (47th, 513) and Delaware was led by sophomore Hannah Halstead (tied for 40th, 523) and senior McKenzie Cooke (tied for 55th, 486).