Bowling: Pickerington North Panthers expect competitive, 'fun' season

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
North's Abby McFerrin prepares for a shot during practice Dec. 8 at Rule 3. Coach Mike Rossi (right) expected before the season that McFerrin would challenge for a spot in the top five.

Pickerington North bowling coach Mike Rossi used the word “fun” several times while previewing the Panthers’ season, partly in anticipation of seeing how some new contributors mesh with returning leaders on both the boys and girls teams.

While the boys lineup largely was set before the scheduled season-opening Muskingum University High School Invitational on Dec. 19 at Park Lanes in Heath, six seniors, a junior and a promising freshman looked to vie for five spots for the girls team.

“They will be competitive all year. That will be fun to watch,” said Rossi, who is in his eighth season. “(Senior) Alana (Robinson) looks like she’s been bowling very well at practice. She had two games (at a recent practice) where she was in the high 180s or 190s. She’s bowling really well. (Seniors) Sienna (Reedus) and Evy (Vance) are good bowlers and they'll be fine. Those three will be our anchors.”

Robinson averaged 144.9 pins per game last season, just behind 2020 graduate Kathryn VanCourt (145.6) and ahead of Vance (139.3) and Reedus (126.5).

Seniors Jalyn Crawford, Gabby Furrow and Chelsea Rager, junior Caitlyn O’Malley and freshman Abby McFerrin will challenge to fill out the varsity roster.

“The lineup is very balanced. Everybody has improved,” Robinson said. “We’re enjoying this. I think this season is going to be pretty good.”

The boys team’s top two scorers return in seniors Ethan Yurko (194.2) and Alex Zumock (187.4). They are joined in the lineup by classmate Kyle Roberts, junior Jack Rodgers and sophomore Jacob Neubauer.

Sophomore Kyle Butterfield, who averaged 176.8 and rolled a team-leading 527 series in the Division I district tournament, moved during the offseason.

“These are five solid bowlers,” Rossi said. “Ethan, Alex and Jack have a chance of averaging 200 if they bowl well. They could. I’m not saying they will, but they could.

“We have the potential to get to district. You usually have to have two guys (averaging) up near 200 to get to district but we should be consistent.”

Both teams went 8-5 overall last season and advanced to district but fell short of moving on to state. The boys were seventh (3,726) at district while the girls were 12th (2,773).

Zumock hoped that biweekly visits to a sport shot clinic at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, the site of the state tournament, will pay off later in the season.

“One of our struggles is on the heavier oil patterns and the sport shot patterns,” Zumock said. “We’ll have a game plan and execute it. We used to try to figure it out as the games were going on and that doesn't work out all the time. But we’ll be ready.”

Talented lineups 

excite Tigers coach

Jason Roach has been Central’s coach since the program ended a two-year hiatus in 2013, but he had a different feel about this season given an influx of talented younger bowlers in addition to a handful of returnees on both the boys and girls teams.

“We knew from last year that we graduated some good kids, but we never in previous years had a number of freshmen who were pretty good,” Roach said. “It was usually their junior or senior year when they came out and ended up being OK. We’ve never had three or four years to work with someone. Now it feels like we have two or three kids in back-to-back classes who are pretty good.”

The girls team returns its leader in average in junior Jaycie Arnet (154.9) as well as classmate Emily Stickel (132.1) and sophomore Alexis Tulius (144.8). 

Senior Allison Whisman and juniors Sydney Brown and Mikayla Hodge also are expected to figure in the varsity lineup.

“We were senior-dominated last year,” said assistant coach Greg Moore, citing the graduations of longtime contributors Kathy Burgess, Kate Merkel and Frankie Moore. “Sydney is flat-out phenomenal. She’s throwing very well. She threw 208 and 180-something (in a recent practice) and we had six girls averaging 140 or better (in the preseason). We’ve never had that.”

The girls finished 16th (2,783) at the Division I sectional to earn the final team spot at district, where they placed 11th (2,800) as the top four squads advanced to state.

The boys team graduated its top three scorers who combined to average 527.1 pins per game, including district-qualifier Drew Bookman (team-leading 183.1). His younger brother, sophomore Alex Bookman, averaged 167.7 to lead all returnees.

Also back are seniors Caleb Gallagher, Haven Hayes, Jude Shreffler, Zach Walker and Garner Wallace and sophomores Jared Baden and Brandon Bradley.

Bradley averaged 152.7 and Walker 134.7 last season. 

Baden and Wallace, a Northwestern football commit who also plays basketball, saw limited varsity time.

Roach said freshman Alex Webb could be “the second-best” bowler on the team.

“They are young and they’re pretty good,” Roach said. “This team will be pretty decent this year and they should be really good the next couple years.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

CENTRAL

Coach: Jason Roach, eighth season

Top athletes: Boys — Jared Baden, Alex Bookman, Brandon Bradley and Alex Webb; Girls — Jaycie Arnet, Emily Stickel, Alexis Tulius and Allison Whisman

Key losses: Boys — Drew Bookman, Grant Gilkey, Christian Kirton and Jamison Stoniosis; Girls — Kathy Burgess, Kate Merkel and Frankie Moore

Last season: Boys — 5-8 overall; Girls — 8-4 overall

2019-20 finishes: Boys — Ninth in COHSBC-B, tied for fifth in OCC-Central, 28th at sectional; Girls — Tied for fourth in COHSBC-B, tied for third in OCC-Central, 16th at sectional, 11th at district

NORTH

Coach: Mike Rossi, eighth season

Top athletes: Boys — Kyle Roberts, Jack Rodgers, Ethan Yurko and Alex Zumock; Girls — Jalyn Crawford, Sienna Reedus, Alana Robinson and Evy Vance

Key losses: Boys — Kyle Butterfield, Jacob Dollmatsch, Caden Thieken and Alex Zumock; Girls — Piper Clark, Shea Dooley and Kathryn VanCourt

Last season: Boys — 8-5 overall; Girls — 8-5 overall

2019-20 finishes: Boys — Seventh in COHSBC-B, third in OCC-Central, 12th at sectional, seventh at district; Girls — Sixth in COHSBC-B, second in OCC-Central, 13th at sectional, 12th at district