Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Lions bowling teams building bonds, enjoying success

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Gahanna's Lilu Smith was averaging 218.7 through 21 games, leading all girls bowlers in the COHSBC. The Lions girls team also has been battling for league titles in the COHSBC-B Division and the OCC-Central.

Working together has taken on a new meaning for the members of the Gahanna Lincoln bowling program. 

New COVID-19 protocols are in place, such as having each bowler wear a face covering while competing, which senior standout Lilu Smith admits can be uncomfortable, particularly in some alleys when it gets hot. 

Just having a season, though, has overshadowed the additional challenges that have been caused by the pandemic, and both the boys and girls teams have been thriving. 

“I’m grateful we’ve had a season in the first place with COVID and everything,” senior DeAndre Quiero said. “We got pretty lucky with that, so there’s not much more I could ask for. We’ve been having a pretty good season. I like that everybody has a good attitude. Nobody has bad vibes and we just work really well together as a team. Everybody is more focused on the bigger picture.” 

Both teams have the goal of reaching the Division I state tournament after the girls won the state title and the boys finished eighth last season. 

Sectional competition will be held Feb. 17 and 18 for girls and Feb. 19 and 20 for boys at HP Lanes. For boys and girls, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. 

Both teams also are battling for titles in the COHSBC-B Division and the OCC-Central.

The girls were 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the COHSBC-B after beating Hilliard Bradley 2,205-2,021 on Jan. 26 and 4-0 in the OCC-Central after defeating Pickerington Central 2,232-1,856 on Jan. 21. 

The girls team set a program record for pins in a match when it beat Marysville 2,351-1,361 on Jan. 7, and then surpassed it again Jan. 20 in a 2,436-1,558 win over Pickerington North. 

Smith has missed time with a shoulder injury but was leading the COHSBC in average at 218.7 through 21 games. 

Juniors Tori Richardson (183.6), Lindzi Oakman (179.2), Addison Watson (174.7) and Kaitlyn Mundschenck (165.1) all have been among the top 20 in the COHSBC in average. Freshman Casey Burns also has been a key contributor. 

Smith bowled a 268 in her second game against North and was tournament MVP in the Central District Preview on Jan. 16 at Columbus Square Bowling Palace after rolling a 692 three-game series. 

“I feel really good about (the season),” Smith said. “It’s definitely been a good season, even with (some matches) being postponed. We’ve been able to grind through it. 

“I’ve been with these girls for three years, so the connections I have with them definitely helps. We know about each other’s lives. We have a lot of the same players from last year, so that really helps. (Last year’s state run) just shows how hard we work together. We kept our morale up. We had energy and a lot of support from the parents and spectators, and that drives us to win matches. Our whole goal every year is to go to state.” 

The boys were 10-1 overall and 9-1 in the COHSBC-B after beating Bradley 2,371-2,348 and 5-1 in the OCC-Central after beating Central 2,459-2,147. 

Junior Eddy Pax was leading the Lions in average at 211.3 through 11 matches, followed by Quiero (198.3), freshman Jaxson Lealand (191.6), junior Kevin Foit (187.5), sophomore Matthew Vansach (183.1) and senior Darrell Firks (174.9). 

“Our boys have been doing a fantastic job, and they work as a team,” coach Yvonne Quiero said. “They all look out for one another, encourage each other and have a knack for knowing when one of their teammates needs to be picked up. They all have what I would call a team spirit and don’t put themselves before the team, and that’s refreshing for our coaching staff. 

“The girls are bowling well as individuals, but it’s their team effort that makes us most proud. The girls team has done a fabulous job so far this year. Their positive attitudes, perseverance and strong work ethic will help them be successful as individuals and as a team.” 

Toni Dejanov, goalie Deke Travers and Gahanna have CHC games remaining Feb. 5 against Watterson at Chiller Ice Works and Feb. 6 against Olentangy at Chiller Easton.

Hockey team looks 

to bounce back 

Following a team quarantine that kept it from competing in the Pioneer Classic during the third weekend of January, the hockey team lost its first three games after returning to action. 

The Lions, who were 9-9 overall and 6-5 in the CHC-Blue after losing 7-3 to Thomas Worthington on Jan. 24 at Chiller Easton, have league games remaining Feb. 5 against Watterson at Chiller Ice Works and Feb. 6 against Olentangy at Chiller Easton. They also have a game Feb. 7 against Troy at Hobart Arena. 

The Blue Jackets Cup tournament will follow during the second weekend of February. 

“We were in quarantine for 10 days and missed (the) games when we were supposed to have played in the Pioneer Classic Tournament at Chiller North,” coach Kevin Schodorf said. “We were looking forward to playing in that tournament since our bracket looked very competitive. We weren’t able to practice at all (during the quarantine), which is why I think we were a little sluggish (in our first) three games (after returning).  

“What I’m hoping to see from my team is grit and perseverance. We’ve had a little bit of a difficult time finding the back of the net in some of our harder matchups against (CHC-)White Division teams this season. We’ve been quarantined twice this season and that’s definitely affected some of the continuity with our systems and flow as a team. I’m hoping we come together as a team offensively to take the next step.” 

Schodorf has been impressed with the growth of freshman goalie Deke Travers, who had a save percentage of .911 through his first 15 games. 

Senior forward Colton Heery, junior forward Rohan Schmidt and freshman forwards Toni Dejanov and Nate Highland have joined senior defenseman Thomas Giles in leading the offense. 

Giles had five goals and 16 assists, Highland had seven goals and eight assists and Schmidt had nine goals and five assists through 18 games. 

"We’re really excited for the CBJ Cup and think we have as good of a chance as any to win the consolation bracket,” Schodorf said. “In the postseason, I think we have a great opportunity to pull some upsets due to our strong defensive team play and goaltending.” 

Boys basketball team 

in league title hunt 

One of the biggest obstacles the boys basketball team figures to face as it battles for the OCC-Ohio title should take place Feb. 5 when it plays host to Westerville Central. 

The game represents a rematch of a contest the Lions won 56-55 on Jan. 20 in the first round of the league schedule. It also was their first game back from a two-week quarantine. 

Gahanna defeated Grove City 70-47 on Jan. 25 to improve to 10-1 overall and 4-0 in the league. 

The Lions’ first loss came Jan. 23 when they fell 75-49 to Thomas, which was a Division I district champion last season. 

The district tournament drawing is Feb. 7 and the postseason is scheduled to begin Feb. 23. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek