Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Bowling teams hope to duplicate past success

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Junior Tori Richardson is one of the top returnees for the Gahanna Lincoln girls bowling team, which went 16-0 last winter and captured its second Division I state championship in three seasons.

Despite having the beginning of its season delayed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Gahanna Lincoln bowling program has tried to look at the positives of the situation.

There are several key contributors back on both the boys and girls teams after one of the most successful postseasons in program history, with the girls capturing their second Division I state championship in three seasons and the boys making state for the first time since 2011.

“Our season kicked off with tryouts on Nov. 1 and COVID-19 restrictions made things a little more challenging and has limited the number of bowlers and spectators during competition,” said Yvonne Quiero, who is the program’s head coach and is assisted by Jake McKnight with the boys team and Todd Burns with the girls. “With the suspension of competition through Dec. 18, schedules will remain a little fluid as we do our best to reschedule matches to later dates. The upside of the delay is that we get to continue practices with the team and that helps to refresh team chemistry and sharpen skills. 

“Our athletes are very excited to keep bowling and have done a great job at abiding by the rules of the team and the center. Having a season means a great deal to them, their families and our staff, so we’re really hopeful that we have an opportunity to make it through to the end.”

Gahanna, which next is scheduled to compete Jan. 5 against Lancaster at Tiki Lanes, returns one of central Ohio’s top girls bowlers in senior Lilu Smith.

Also one of the key bowlers in 2018 when the Lions captured their first state title, Smith won last season’s sectional with a 671, was ninth at district (527) and placed 10th (592) at state to earn second-team all-state honors.

Gahanna has posted 74 consecutive league victories — going 12-0 in the COHSBC-B Division and 6-0 in the OCC-Central to win both titles last season — and was the fifth seed entering the championship round at state.

The Lions then beat Cincinnati Seton 3-2, Springfield 3-1 and Fairborn 3-1 to capture the title, with Smith rolling three consecutive strikes to close out the championship match.

She averaged 201.7 to finish second in the COHSBC.

Junior Kaitlyn Mundschenk finished 17th (577) at state and classmate Addison Watston was 27th (548), while juniors Lindzi Oakman and Tori Richardson also are key returnees.

Mundschenk, Oakman and Smith all were first-team all-OCC-Central and 2020 graduate Aubree Packer made the second team.

Freshman Casey Burns is another looking to contribute for the girls team, which went 16-0 overall a year ago.

Junior Eddy Pax and the Lions boys bowling team are coming off an eighth-place finish in the Division I state tournament.

The boys team, which also was coached by Cris Ferrante last year, is coming off a 13-3 season in which it shared the OCC-Central title with Reynoldsburg at 5-1. The Lions followed with a 10th-place sectional finish (3,615) before placing second at district (3,813).

After finishing 10th in their only other state appearance, the Lions qualified for the championship round and placed eighth overall at state last winter.

Senior DeAndre Quiero and juniors Kevin Foit and Eddy Pax are the top returnees.

Quiero tied for 43rd (573) at state, Foit was 61st (541) at state and Pax finished fourth (633) at district and 49th (563) at state.

Senior Darrell Firks and sophomore Matthew Vansach also are returnees, and freshman Jaxson Lealand is another looking to contribute.

Lost to graduation was Nathan Minzler, who tied for seventh (614) at district and was 14th (654) at state to earn honorable mention all-state honors.

Minzler was first-team all-OCC-Central, Pax and Quiero were on the second team and Foit made the third team.

“We generally have high expectations for our varsity bowlers,” coach Quiero said. “We have a great group of athletes, and although we may not have the same experiences as last year with the on-site energy from parents, family members and friends, we know that they’ll be watching via our live streams and we hope to perform well again this season.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

BOWLING

Coach: Yvonne Quiero, third season

Top athletes: Boys — Darrell Firks, Kevin Foit, Eddy Pax, DeAndre Quiero and Matthew Vansach; Girls — Kaitlyn Mundschenk, Lindzi Oakman, Tori Richardson, Lilu Smith and Addison Watson

Key losses: Boys — Nathan Minzler; Girls — Jalynn Johnson and Aubree Packer

Last season: Boys — 13-3 overall; Girls — 16-0 overall

2019-20 finishes: Boys — Tied for second in COHSBC-B, tied for first in OCC-Central, 10th at sectional, second at district, eighth at state; Girls — First in COHSBC-B, first in OCC-Central, second at sectional, second at district, first at state