New Albany Roundup: Coach Jess Biller foresees strong season for bowling teams
Having spent most of his first season as New Albany bowling coach working primarily with the girls team, Jess Biller admitted he still is getting to know his boys competitors better.
It didn’t take long for him to figure out that even though the Eagles graduated their only Division I state qualifier in Grant Kresina, this season might be even more competitive than last.
Four of the team’s top five scorers return, led by junior Elliot Greer, and Biller said games over 200 were common throughout preseason practice.
“(Junior) Max Higgins had a 246 game. We have a lot of guys who are neck and neck,” Biller said. “There have been plenty of games where guys have been well into the 200s. It speaks to their talent and how hard they’ve been working. I think we’re looking at the boys and girls teams both having competitive seasons and that’s going to be good for everybody.”
Greer averaged 194.9 pins per game last season, three pins ahead of Kresina. They were followed by senior Damon Jolly (166.6), junior Noble Conn (160.1), Higgins (159.5) and sophomore Liam Harper (157.9).
Kresina was the first state qualifier since the program’s inception in 2014.
“Mainly it’s just been fun for us getting back into bowling. We’ve all tried to improve and it has been competitive,” Greer said. “Everyone’s scores are up. It’s a little confidence boost. We’re just sticking to our approach. We’re looking good, but we know we have a long way to go.”
Seniors Lucas Bernard, Jacob Cohen and Cole Dybik also will vie for varsity time.
The boys team went 6-5 overall and in the COHSBC-A Division and 6-4 in the OCC-Buckeye last year.
Led by junior Jada Biller (167.8), the girls went 6-4 overall and in the COHSBC-A and 2-4 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Junior Abby Phelps (125.8) and sophomore Taryn Jolly (125.9) also are back. The girls graduated both of their district qualifiers in Shannan Ireland and Codey Mockler.
“Taryn, Abby and I are really just trying to help guide some of the younger bowlers,” said Jada Biller, who missed some of last season because of injury and is aiming for a 180 average this year. “We’re working on our games, like our form and making spares, and trying to set a good example.”
Rounding out the girls roster are junior Grace Layman, sophomores Allie Lothes and Sydney Wamsley and freshman Kennedy Marshall. Wamsley saw some varsity time last year, and coach Biller said she, Layman and Lothes were in a three-way competition to fill the fourth and fifth spots on varsity.
New Albany is scheduled to open Jan. 5 against Westerville North at Sequoia Pro Bowl. The match would count in the COHSBC-A and OCC-Buckeye standings.
“The hope is when we get back from (winter) break, we’ll get back to competition,” coach Biller said. “We’re excited to get going.”
•Coach: Jess Biller, second season
•Top athletes: Boys — Noble Conn, Elliot Greer, Liam Harper and Max Higgins; Girls — Jada Biller, Taryn Jolly, Abby Phelps and Sydney Wamsley
•Key losses: Boys — Grant Kresina; Girls — Shannan Ireland, Riley Langdale and Codey Mockler
•Last season: Boys — 6-5 overall; Girls — 6-4 overall
•2019-20 finishes: Boys — Fourth in the COHSBC-A, third in the OCC-Buckeye, 18th at sectional; Girls — Tied for sixth in the COHSBC-A, fifth in the OCC-Buckeye, 19th at sectional