Bowling: Westerville South Wildcats expecting bounce-back season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Sophomore Alexzandria Stewart and coach Jamie West are hoping to lead South to the Division I state tournament.

After failing to have anyone qualify for the Division I state tournament last season, the Westerville South boys and girls bowling teams are determined to get there this winter.

Both teams feature experienced bowlers, leaving coach Jamie West optimistic they can achieve that goal.

West is in his 15th season as girls coach and again is overseeing the program, while Mark Candella is in his first season as boys coach. He replaced Bill Henson, who guided the team for four seasons.

The start of the season was delayed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with the Wildcats scheduled to face Teays Valley on Jan. 6 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.

“I think we’ll be competitive,” West said. “It just depends on who stays healthy. … We’ll do what we can and hopefully the kids will work hard and make up for lost time and we’ll deal with it.”

The boys team returns four of its top bowlers from last season. Sophomore Dominic Candella finished with a 180.4 average, followed by senior Henry Tran (172.1), junior Ethan Gary (167.4) and senior Jacob Spiegel (163.2).

“I want to place (in the) top 50 in (the COHSBC),” said Tran, who is in his fourth season with the program. “We pretty much have the same team as last year and last year was a rebuilding year, so I’m confident we can go to state this year.”

Also back are senior E.J. Quimba and juniors Nic Ball, Ashton Mellquist, Dominic Steele and Tony Tran, and other team members include junior Jaelen Powell and freshmen Justin Anthony and Hudson Deere.

A key loss to graduation was Craden Kelley, who led South at district last season by finishing 26th with a 548 three-game series. He finished with a 176.1 average and was third-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division.

South finished 8-5 last season, and the Wildcats also placed 15th at both sectional (3,501) and district (3,308).

“I really want to have a season this year,” Henry Tran said. “I think we’ll have a season, but it’s not going to be the same as in past years.”

Five of the girls team’s six bowlers return from last season led by sophomore Alexzandria Stewart and senior Taylor Hughes. Stewart led the Wildcats at district, finishing 32nd with a 454 series, while Hughes had a team-best 163.2 average and was second-team all-OCC-Buckeye.

Stewart averaged 144.5, followed by senior Alexia Steele (135.3) and sophomores Jessica Applegate (128.3) and Addison Poulsen (123). 

Junior Zoe Gehring is new to the team.

The Wildcats finished 8-4 last season. They were 12th (2,847) at sectional and ninth at district (2,831).

Numbers allow North

to field girls squad

After not having a girls team last season, North once again will have girls competing on their own team.

A year ago, Sophia Soisson competed with the boys team in the regular season but participated in the Division I girls postseason. The senior rolled a 462 three-game series to tie for 23rd of 108 bowlers at district.

Soisson had a 193.1 average to earn second-team all-OCC-Buckeye honors with the boys team, which finished 0-11. She will be the leader on the girls squad, which only has one bowler with previous varsity experience in Megan Holmes. The junior competed as a freshman but did not participate last season. 

Junior Mason Tancos and sophomores Faith Clapsaddle and Marvet Hejazin round out the roster.

“We worked hard to get some other girls players,” third-year coach Eric Hagemann said. “We made fliers and posted them around the school and finally we had enough for a team.”

Senior Bryce Byington, junior Pasha Krantz and sophomores Ronan LaRoche, Owen Ptak, Cameron Wages and Cole Wright return for the boys squad. 

“Bryce is doing well, especially after he rolled his first 200 game in tryouts,” Hagemann said. “Pasha was a j.v. player last year and he’s one of the most exciting kids we have. When he rolls a strike, he tries to jump for the ceiling.”

Hagemann likes what he has seen from a pair of newcomers in junior Alex Workman and freshman Lucas Gray.

“Luke is a very strong kid but I have to calm him down when he throws,” said Hagemann, whose team was 43rd (2,518) at last season’s sectional. “Luke has a three-step approach to the line and is throwing the ball hard. We’re trying to get him to take a five-step approach and then relax and let the ball roll off his hand. Hopefully that helps him to hit his target better. Coming from a youth league, they can develop some bad habits, but he’ll be a strong bowler for us.”

Freshman Caelen Bloom is also on the boys roster.

The Warriors are scheduled to face Olentangy Berlin on Jan. 4 at Sequoia Pro Bowl.

—Scott Hennen

Central's Payton Hartgrove has a little fun after rolling a strike during the Division I state tournament last season. The sophomore is one of the top competitors for the Warhawks.

Central features

small roster

Central was hit hard by graduation and the loss of bowlers who opted not to return.

With only six athletes in the program, third-year coach Tony Gonzalez said the four boys and two girls will combine and compete as a boys team.

“When we ended last season, I knew it was going to be a challenge to get the bodies out,” Gonzalez said. “Last year was the first time we didn’t have a j.v. team on either side, so we didn’t have that bench.”

Gonzalez is sharing coaching duties with Greg Smock, who is in his first season.

Senior Stephanie Showalter returns for her fourth season. Also back are junior Zack Smock and sophomores Payton Hartgrove and Kyle Richardson.

Freshmen Ben Cantieri and Logan Henslee round out the team.

Hartgrove (178.6) was first-team all-OCC-Buckeye, Smock (182.2) and Showalter (173.9) were second-team all-league and Richardson (177.3) was third-team all-league last season.

In the postseason a year ago, the boys finished second (3,883) at sectional and just missed advancing to state as they tied Jonathan Alder for fourth (3,764) at district. The top three teams moved on.

“I don’t know a lot about the other schools, what they (return) or how many strong freshmen that they’ve brought in, but I think we can compete again,” Gonzalez said. “Am I saying we’re going to have the same record that we’ve had in the past? No. But the league itself is probably a little more open than it’s been, so I think we have a shot.”

The girls team competed at state last season, finishing seventh (3,036) during qualifying play behind first-place Springfield (3,340) before losing 3-1 to Wapakoneta in a best-of-five Baker series in the first round of championship play. 

The Wildcats advanced to state by finishing first at both sectional (3,653) and district (3,599).

Sophomore Deja Curry-Brown, who led the Warhawks by finishing 19th (567) at state and was third-team all-league, has opted not to compete this season. 

Also gone is 2020 graduate Reace Gonzalez, who finished 26th (552) at state and was first-team all-league.

For the boys, seniors Malik Curry-Brown and Dominic Ferroni were first-team all-OCC-Buckeye last season, but both decided not to return.

The Warhawks, who had the start to their season delayed because of the pandemic, are scheduled to compete in the Huber Heights Wayne Warriors Bowl Out at Marian Lanes on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

“We’re not as strong as we have been in the past five, six, seven years, but this is an opportunity for these kids to show a lot of progress.” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to be a different team come the first week of February than we are here in the middle of December.”

—Frank DiRenna

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSPORTS

CENTRAL

Coaches: Tony Gonzalez, third season; and Greg Smock, first season

Top athletes: Boys — Kyle Richardson and Zack Smock; Girls — Payton Hartgrove and Stephanie Showalter

Key losses: Boys — Malik Curry-Brown and Wesley Minke; Girls — Deja Curry-Brown and Reace Gonzalez 

Last season: Boys — 10-1 overall; Girls — 10-0 overall

2019-20 finishes: Boys — Tied for first in COHSBC-A, first in OCC-Buckeye, second at sectional, tied for fourth; Girls — First in COHSBC-A, first in OCC-Buckeye, first at sectional, first at district, seventh at state

NORTH

Coach: Eric Hagemann, third season

Top athletes: Boys — Lucas Gray, Owen Ptak, Cameron Wages and Alex Workman; Girls — Megan Holmes and Sophia Soisson

Key loss: Boys — Ethan Moore; Girls — None

Last season: Boys — 0-11 overall; Girls — Did not have a team

2019-20 finishes: Boys — 12th in COHSBC-A, eighth in OCC-Buckeye, 43rd at sectional

SOUTH

Coaches: Boys — Mark Candella, first season; Girls — Jamie West, 15th season

Top athletes: Boys — Dominic Candella, Ethan Gary, Jacob Spiegel and Henry Tran; Girls — Jessica Applegate, Taylor Hughes, Alexia Steele and Alexzandria Stewart

Key losses: Boys — Craden Kelley and Tristan Mathis; Girls — Brenda Diaz and Fiona Thomas

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

2019-20 finishes: Boys — Fifth in COHSBC-A, tied for fourth in OCC-Buckeye, 15th at sectional, 15th at district; Girls — Fifth in COHSBC-A, fourth in OCC-Buckeye, 12th at sectional, ninth at district