Olentangy Braves women’s team seek third consecutive trip to the state


Olentangy’s bowling coach James Brehm has a mantra he believes trumps any competitive success: “Bowling is fun. “

He’s seen his women’s team have fun and succeed over the past two seasons, however, with back-to-back trips to the Division I state tournament.

“The goal is always to go as high as possible, but the other thing is to have fun while doing it,” said Brehm, who is in his 11th season. “We’re having a good time. “

Prior to 2020, the Braves had never qualified for the state as a team. But with four of their best bowlers returning as seniors, they are poised for a third place in a row.

“Having fun with the team is honestly the most important aspect,” said junior Phoebe Anderson. “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.”

In Olentangy’s 5-0 start, Anderson averaged 205.8 pins in 13 games and senior Savannah Claar was just behind at 196.9, leaving them first and fourth in the COHSBC, respectively, on average.

“(It’s) the highest average I’ve ever gotten, which is really, really exciting,” Anderson said. “I’ve played (nine) 200 games in a row and I’ve never done that before.”

Claar struggled with a hip injury for much of last season, caused by a twist in his approach. After an adjustment, not only is she free from pain, but her score has increased from the 166.5 average a year ago.

“I always twisted at the end and put a lot of pressure on my hip,” Claar said. “I think (losing the twist) helps my accuracy. You want everything to stay as still as possible, and you want to be as consistent as possible when going out, so that you are consistently hitting your target. So this (change) really solved a lot of my issues and helped me improve this year.

The duo are both on the brink of breaking Addison Starr’s 2017-18 program record of 191.9, in large part because of their consistency. Anderson rolled 411 to 429 for a two-game streak, while Claar had just one under 382 streak and put in efforts of 416 and 414.

This consistency is squad-wide, as seniors Alex Oberyszyn (171.7), Katie Claar (161.2) and Hannah Lamar (151.2) also averaged over 150 per game.

“Any of the five can be our leading scorer,” Brehm said. “That’s what’s really cool about it. They have been doing it together for three years.

Olentangy hopes to challenge Gahanna, who has won three of the last four state titles. As a team, the Lions topped the league averaging 898 in 12 games, while the Braves were second at 860.9 in 13 games.

“We always watch Gahanna because it’s the pinnacle,” Brehm said. “They were state champions. We look at them and we compare ourselves to them and see where we need to be. We bite their heels.

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Senior Orange Jake Burre is one of four bowlers returning from last season's Division I State Tournament team.

BERLIN

•Coach: Duane Joseph, fourth season

• High level athletes: Boys – Payton Chapman, Jacoby Oliverio and Aaron Shoaf; Daughters – Stephanie Burkhart, Addison Kearns, Megan Roubinek and Michele Starner

• Key losses: Boys – Mason D’Amore, Malachi McKinney and Adam Ward; Girls – Bella Bland

• Last season: Boys – 4-17 years old in general; Girls – 14-6 years old in total

• Finishes 2020-21: Boys – 10th in COHSBC-A, seventh in OCC-Cardinal, 38th in section; Girls – Second in COHSBC-A, tied third in OCC-Cardinal, 17th in sectional

• Outlook: After winning four games last season, the boys’ team started 3-0 led by senior Oliverio and junior Shoaf. Freshman Chapman is also expected to be in the mix with senior Pocius Ryan and Andrew Sherman and sophomore Parillo Logan.

The women’s team comes out of its best season with 14 wins and returns with four key bowlers in senior Starner, juniors Burkhart and Roubinek and second year Kearns. Junior Annalee Montooth will also see the college competition. Joseph added assistant Nicole Brokas to help with the girls’ team.

• Quote : “Jacoby and Aaron are great leaders and the backbone of the boys’ team, and they gave the kids a lot of confidence. Michele leads the women’s team, which has four since last season. We have daughters with experience, and the time on the slopes is so important. – Joseph

—Scott Hennen

DELAWARE

•Coach: Darin Halstead, 11th season (girls); 10th season (boys)

• High level athletes: Boys – Carson Bay, CJ Deel and Joe Matthews; Daughters – Lydia Bendele, Hannah Halstead, Grace McIllwain and Makayla Pounds

• Key losses: Boys – Brody Crowder, Carson Holt and Brandon Thomas; Girls – Electra Holt

• Last season: Boys – 12-7 years old in general; Girls – 13-5 years old in total

• Finishes 2020-21: Boys – Seventh in COHSBC-A, third in OCC-Cardinal, 24th in section; Girls – fifth in COHSBC-A, tied third in OCC-Cardinal, fourth in section, third in district, 16th in state

• Outlook: The women’s squad picked up where they left off after reaching state for the second straight season led by Halstead. The senior was averaging 202.6 pins in 10 games – good for second place in the COHSBC – as the Pacers started 5-0.

Halstead was 14th out of 204 bowlers in the state last year. The roster also includes Seniors McIllwain (163.1 on average) and Bendele (141.5) and Junior Pounds (167.4).

The boys’ team started 3-2, led by senior Matthews and juniors Deel and Bay. Deel was averaging 185.0 at the start of the season, followed by Bay (160.7) and Matthews (159.7).

Deel was the only boy from Delaware to qualify a year ago for the district, where he finished 36th.

• Quote : “Five of the eight (girls) that (we) took last year are back. It’s the start of the season, but we’ve played well. (Hannah Halstead) has learned over the years how to adapt . She’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders. She’s thinking and knows her arsenal well. CJ Deel is pretty much leading the pack on the boys’ side. He’s got a good head on her shoulders too. – Coach Halstead

—Michael Rich

FREEDOM

•Coach: Steven Nole, third season

• High level athletes: Boys – Dave Hart, Ethan Shek, Carter Street and Austin Warnecke; Daughters – Carley Budreau, Caroline Smith and Sam Yates

• Key losses: Boys – Nick Bateson, Matthew Lawrence and Brendan Sheehan; Girls – Emily Williams

• Last season: Boys – 12-3 in general; Girls – 3-11 total

• Finishes 2020-21: Boys – Third in COHSBC-A, tied second in OCC-Buckeye, second in section, seventh in district; Girls – Eighth in COHSBC-A, fifth in OCC-Buckeye, 26th in section

• Outlook: The boys and girls teams have a strong core of returnees mixed with athletes new to the sport.

The boys are led by the seniors Hart, Shek and Street, as well as the second Warnecke.

The Patriots finished second out of 17 teams in the Teays Valley Thanksgiving Shootout on November 20. They were led by Hart, who finished second with a three-game 687 streak, and Street, who finished fifth with a 674 streak.

The girls’ team returns to senior Smith and sophomores Budreau and Yates. Yates had a 114.0 pin average to lead Liberty, who started 2-2. The Patriots finished 16th of 18 teams at Teays Valley as Yates completed a streak of 320 best teams.

• Quote : “(The boys’ team has) four returning college scholars. Our top bowlers are very strong and have improved from last year. Girls, we have three coming back from last year … but we are a young team. We have a lot of freshmen. Other than the returning ones (the letter winners), they’re all new to bowling. I try to make them spend as much time as possible at the bowling alley. – Sorry

—Michael Rich

OLENTANGY

•Coach: James Brehm, 11th season

• High level athletes: Boys – Alex Hilger and Nathan Holycross; Daughters – Phoebe Anderson, Katie Claar, Savannah Claar, Hannah Lamar and Alex Oberyszyn

• Key losses: Boys – Patrick Dempsey, Derek Rather and Nick Wilson; Girls – Lillian Heinze

• Last season: Boys – 3-12 in general; Girls – 14-1 overall

• Finishes 2020-21: Boys – 12th in COHSBC-A, seventh in OCC-Buckeye, 35th in section; Girls – First in COHSBC-A, second in OCC-Buckeye, tied for seventh in section, fourth in district, 14th in state

• Outlook: With an experienced roster that includes four seniors and one junior, the women’s team is aiming for a third consecutive trip to the state.

Led by junior Anderson, who averaged 205.8 pins per game to lead COHSBC early in the season, the Braves also include seniors Savannah Claar, Katie Claar, Oberyszyn and Lamar.

The men’s team tied last year’s winning tally with a 3-2 start, led by senior Holycross (181.8 average) and junior Hilger (186.9).

• Quote : “The girls have been very consistent… so you can’t ask for anything more. In terms of work and attitude, it’s been pretty good so far. Hopefully the third time is a charm as we have qualified for the state for the past two years and have everyone back. Boys are another story, but they are still working. I have eight brand new (bowlers), with four returning from last year. – Brehm

—Michael Rich

ORANGE

• Coaches: Boys – Rodney Palmer, eighth season; Girls – DC Boysaw, Season 5

• High level athletes: Boys – Jake Burre, Bobby Drexel, Jaydon Goldenberg and Nick Kicas; Girls – Lauren Berend, Lauryn Deck and Eve Wicks

• Key losses: Boys – Marcus Turner; Girls – Abigail Fulton

• Last season: Boys – 13-3 in total; Girls – 7-8 in total

• Finishes 2020-21: Boys – First in COHSBC-A, first in OCC-Buckeye, 13th in Section, third in District, 15th in State; Girls – Seventh in COHSBC-A, sixth in OCC-Buckeye, 23rd in section

• Outlook: The boys’ squad returns four players from last season’s squad who reached the state tournament at seniors Burre (Mount Vernon Nazarene Engagement), Goldenberg and Kicas and sophomore Drexel. Junior Casey McCorkle, a two-handed bowler, completes the roster.

The women’s team returns three key bowlers to Seniors Berend, Deck and Wicks on their five-member roster. Senior Jessica Woods and rookie Rylee Jacobs are also competing.

• Quote : “They know what’s expected and they’re good leaders so they keep guys on a level playing field and keep things positive. Reverting to the state is like making one or two more spare parts in a set than usual. – Palmer

—Scott Hennen

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