Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Lions girls bowlers heading back to state tournament

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Gahanna Lincoln's Addison Watson celebrates after rolling a strike during last year's Division I state tournament, where the Lions won the championship. On Feb. 22, Watson helped Gahanna win the district title and earn a return trip to state.

During the 2020 postseason, the Gahanna Lincoln girls bowling team finished second in the Division I district tournament and turned in the fifth-best score during the qualifying round at state before hitting its stride in the championship round.

In terms of momentum, the Lions might be a step ahead of where they were at this time last season as they look to continue a run that includes state titles in 2018 and 2020. 

On Feb. 22 in the 16-team district tournament at HP Lanes, Gahanna led throughout the event as it finished with a 3,938 to capture the title. 

The 16-team state tournament will be held March 5 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, with the top eight during the qualifying round advancing to the championship round. 

Gahanna had four of the top 10 finishers at district after rolling a 933 in the first game. 

“(The strong start) made us feel better,” junior Lindzi Oakman said. “We weren’t stressed. We’re going to go in (to state) with a good mindset, not freak out and just stay calm and do what we always do.” 

Oakman led Gahanna with a third-place finish (613), followed by junior Tori Richardson (fourth, 604), senior Lilu Smith (sixth, 583) and juniors Addison Watson (eighth, 570) and Kaitlyn Mundschenk (22nd, 516). 

On Feb. 17 in the sectional at HP Lanes, Gahanna bowled 3,505 to finish as runner-up to Jonathan Alder (3,580). Smith was fourth (589), followed by Richardson (11th, 522), Oakman (tied for 18th, 499) and Mundschenk (tied for 28th, 477). Watson bowled in two games and freshman Casey Burns competed in one game. 

“They (won district) and you can’t ask for more when it comes to that,” coach Yvonne Quiero said. “Lindzi bowled tremendously well. Lilu didn’t have her best day, but she kept pushing and kept going. This was one of those things where they truly won as a team.” 

The boys team fell short of advancing to state for the second consecutive season, placing sixth (3,885) at district behind champion Marion Harding (4,195) as the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams moved on. 

The other two teams reaching state were Hilliard Bradley (4,169) and Olentangy Orange (3,952).

“We tried our best,” freshman Jaxson Lealand said. “It was (a) pretty cool (experience). We’d love to be back here next year.” 

Lealand tied for eighth (636) but fell 20 pins short of advancing individually. Senior DeAndre Quiero (13th, 618), juniors Eddy Pax (23rd, 591) and Kevin Foit (tied for 37th, 559) and senior Darrell Firks (60th, 504) also competed. 

The Lions were ninth (3,854) in the sectional Feb. 19 behind champion Harding (4,316) as the top 16 advanced to district. Pax placed 15th (611), followed by Foit (tied for 19th, 606), DeAndre Quiero (tied for 46th, 562) and Lealand (tied for 87th, 511). 

Pax finished third in the COHSBC in regular-season average at 213.8.

Senior Charlie Richardson and sophomore Matthew Vansach also were key contributors for the boys team, which went 12-1 overall and 11-1 to win the COHSBC-B Division while also tying for first with Pickerington North at 5-1 in the OCC-Central. 

Senior defenseman Ashwin Kumar had six goals and four assists for Gahanna, which wasn't able to play in the postseason because of COVID-19 protocols.

Hockey team took 

big strides forward 

Featuring a five-member senior class, the hockey team posted its first winning record under fourth-year coach Kevin Schodorf. 

The Lions were the 17th seed for the district tournament and were scheduled to face 20th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne on Feb. 20 in the first round but were unable to play because of COVID-19 protocols. 

They finished 14-12 overall and battled all season for the CHC-Blue title before settling for third (9-7) behind Olentangy (11-5) and Watterson (10-6). 

Last season, Gahanna went 11-20-1-1 overall and 5-11 in the CHC-Blue. 

“It was heartbreaking for me to have to call all five seniors and tell them that our season was over,” Schodorf said. “My first year coaching was when they were freshmen and those five players helped rebuild the program from two wins their first season to a winning record this season. I can’t thank them enough for the leadership and commitment to the program, on and off the ice.” 

Defenseman Thomas Giles led the senior class with eight goals and 21 assists. He finished fourth in program history with 74 assists and seventh in program history with 106 points. 

Senior defensemen Ashwin Kumar (6 goals, 4 assists) and John Warner (4 goals, 4 assists) and senior forward Colton Heery (13 goals, 10 assists) also were among the team’s leading scorers. 

Giles was named first-team all-CHC-Blue along with freshman goalie Deke Travers, who went 11-11, posted a program-record 2.64 goals-against average and had the second-best save percentage in program history at .913. 

Junior forwards Ethan Brehm (5 goals, 4 assists) and Rohan Schmidt (10 goals, 6 assists), junior defenseman Nick Hoerig (6 goals, 6 assists) and freshman forwards Toni Dejanov (7 goals, 12 assists) and Nate Highland (8 goals, 15 assists) should be the top returnees. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Noah Amos (forward), Joshua Knuckles (forward), Brendan Phillips (defenseman), Chase Pry (forward), Isaac Stanley (forward), Cole Tiberio (forward), Gracie Travers (defenseman) and Hayden Waara (forward) and freshman Bennie Hoerig (forward). 

“We were quarantined three different times during the season, but my players never got down on themselves or each other,” Schodorf said. “It was the most enjoyable year coaching for me due to the strong team culture and bonds that the players made with one another. I’m excited for the group of players we have coming back.” 

Leeseberg competes 

at girls state tourney 

Freshman Emily Leeseberg closed her first season with the wrestling program by competing at the girls state tournament at 101 pounds Feb. 20 at Hilliard Davidson. 

She opened by losing 22-6 to Bellefontaine’s Makayla Young and then fell to Mason’s Haley Williams 8-0 in the second round to finish 8-8 on the season. 

Leeseberg went 6-4 during the regular season against girls and also competed in three junior varsity boys matches. 

In the district tournament Feb. 14 at Olentangy Orange, Leeseberg pinned Reynoldsburg’s Summer Batts in 3 minutes, 28 seconds, lost in a semifinal and beat Sarahsville Shenandoah’s Kyra Kunkle 11-5 to qualify for state. Leeseberg went on to finish fourth at district.

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BOYS BOWLING  

Record: 12-1 overall 

League finishes: First (11-1) in COHSBC-B, tied for first (5-1) in OCC-Central 

Seniors lost: Darrell Firks, DeAndre Quiero and Charlie Richardson 

Key returnees: Kevin Foit, Jaxson Lealand, Eddy Pax and Matthew Vansach

Postseason: Ninth (3,854) at sectional behind champion Marion Harding (4,316), sixth (3,885) at district behind champion Harding (4,195) 

HOCKEY 

Record: 14-12 overall 

CHC-Blue standings: Olentangy (22, 11-5), Watterson (20, 10-6), Gahanna (18, 9-7), Columbus Academy (13, 6-10-0-1), Worthington Kilbourne (9, 4-11-0-1), DeSales (6, 3-14), Dublin Scioto (0, 0-16) 

Seniors lost: Thomas Giles, Colton Heery, Ashwin Kumar, Sincere Ruffin and John Warner 

Key returnees: Ethan Brehm, Toni Dejanov, Nate Highland, Rohan Schmidt and Deke Travers 

Postseason: Did not participate