Prep bowling continues to grow in the area

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY BARNESVILLE’S Tessa Johnston rolls during a match at St. Clair Lanes earlier this season. The Shamrocks are one of 11 area teams competing in prep bowling this winter.

The East Ohio Bowling League started in 2005 with four schools — Martins Ferry, St. John Central, John Marshall and Wheeling Park. There are now 14 schools. It became the newest sport added to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference last year.

Ohio schools competing in the 2020-21 season, which, like many other things, has been hampered by the global COVID-19 pandemic in the early going, are Barnesville, Beallsville, Bridgeport, Buckeye Local, Harrison Central, Martins Ferry, Monroe Central, River, St. Clairsville, St. John Academy and Union Local.

West Virginia schools — Linsly, Weirton and Wheeling Central — aren’t allowed to begin practicing until Jan. 11, 2021. However, League Commissioner Ken Campanizzi said Wheeling Central has decided to not compete this year, but will return next season.

The OVAC Tournament is penciled in for Saturday, Jan. 23 at St. Clair Lanes.

Below is a capsule look at the area teams:

BARNESVILLE has a new head coach in Chad Hall. He is assisted by A.J. Corder.

The girls team is comprised of seniors are Daylin Mercer and Sam Murphy; juniors Tessa Johnston, Hailey Stewart and Zoe Showalter; sophomores Reagan Campbell, Breanna Flood, Julie Johnson and Olivia Stephens; and freshmen Taylor Crooks and Clarissa Fitch.

Mercer, Johnston, Stewart, Campbell, Flood and Johnson all lettered last year as Shamrocks won the Coach Camp Baker Tournament. Mercer had the high team average and was named all-EOBL.

The boys team is led by seniors RJ Detling, Logan Eddy, Connor Johnson, Matthew Heatherington, Michael Heatherington; juniors Arick Clark and Braydon Daughtery; sophomores Matt Hall and Brock Burkhart; and freshmen Kavin Carpenter, Garrett Eddy and Logan Johnston.

Detling, Eddy, Matthew Heatherington, Michael Heatherington, Clark and Hall all lettered last winter. Hall had the high team average last season and was an all-EOBL selection.

“I think that we have a great chance at placing high this year with quite a few returning letterman to both of our teams,” Hall said. “Coach Corder and myself have very high expectations for both of our teams this year. Our teams have been through a lot this year between COVID and having to change bowling alleys after the first couple of practices due to losing our home alley, Chestnut Lanes, to a fire and we can only go up from here.”

BEALLSVILLE has a new head coach in its second season of competition, but he is no stranger to the sport.

Walt Russell, owner of Russell Family Bowling Center just east of Woodsfield, is a previous member of the regional PBA and has several awards issued by the United States Bowling Congress. He has rolled four perfect games.

“I am excited to be the head coach at Beallsville,” Russell said. “I look forward to my two seniors carrying us through the season while the others pick it up and end strong.”

“I’m fairly confident that we will be able to compete with only the two seniors and some young bowlers,” Russell said. “I look forward to the team improving as the season continues. This team has been practicing hard and are diligent about attending practices.”

The Blue Devils will compete on the boys side of things with a 5-member team. Those two aforementioned seniors are Sheyanne Osbourne and Rich Fackler, both are returning letterwinners.

“I hate to see my two seniors leave at the end of the season, but all good things must come to an end,” Russell said. “I hope they can continue their bowling careers at the next level. I wish them well this season.”

The roster is completed with senior Quaid Wine, sophomore Xavier Lieberth and freshman Caleb Smith. Wine is a first-year bowler while Lieberth is in his second year.

Beallsville will use the Russell Family Bowling Center as its home lanes.

BRIDGEPORT is led by head coach Ron Taylor who will begin his third year with the Bulldogs, but his first as head coach. It will be his seventh year of coaching high school bowling.

The girls roster is made up of seniors Brooklyn Edgell and Zoe Long; sophomores Aries Willison and Emma Pittner; and freshman Rebecca Bower.

Edgell has bowled for three years, lettering as a sophomore. This will be Long’s second year of bowling.

The boys squad is comprised of seniors JB Marling, Zach McKivigan and Brennan Meager; juniors Gabe Donahue, Caleb Funkhouser, Kenny Newland and Dylan Williams; sophomore Austin Gannoe; and freshmen Damon Burgess, Carson Kinsey and Michael McKeen

McKivigan lettered last year while Meager lettered as a sophomore. Both have bowled for four years. Donahue has bowled for three years. Funkhouser and Newland two each.

The Bulldogs call St. Clair Lanes home.

“If we bowl to our potential, we can have a very good season,” Taylor said. “I have a good group of seniors to lead the way with some very good juniors to help out.

“I am excited to have so many first-year bowlers out this year. It looks good for the future of this Bulldogs bowling team,” he added. “These first-year bowlers are working hard and showing some great potential for the next several years.”

BUCKEYE LOCAL is once again coached by Jerad Call who is entering his 12 season as head coach and 14th overall. The Panther boys were 5-10 a year ago while the girls were 12-3.

Each team has a 12-member roster and return five letterwiners apiece.

“Our girls team should be pretty strong this year as we are returning five varsity members from last year,” Call said. “Our goals are to be competitive for the Eastern Ohio Bowling League, the OVAC championships and advance to the district.”

Back for another season are seniors Cheyanne Cornish, Sierra Sterling and Annie Takach, along with juniors Sydney Bodak and Brooke Shaffer. Cornish, Sterling and Takach lettered last winter. The only loss to graduation was Alyssa Lingenfelter who earned a scholarship to bowl at the University of Rio Grande.

Cornish and Takach were both second team all-EOBL last season.

Other team members are junior Kaden Bednarek; sophomores Lizzie Frank and Jackie Richardson; and freshmen Haylee Brown, Megan Burrier, Abigail Meeker and Jasmine Yohe.

Although the Panthers struggled at times last season, several members earned valuable experience that Call is hoping pays off this season.

“The boys are looking to improve from last year,” he said. “Our best bowler from last year (Conrad Schuetz) graduated, but the rest of the team is back. Conrad will be hard to replace, but we will have more depth and experience this year.”

C.J. Adams is the lone senior returnee. Juniors Jimmy Hornyak and Xavier Lascano and sophomores Chase Eikleberry and Rodney Meeker round out the lettermen.

Rounding out the roster are senior Brock Sempirek; sophomores Jeremy Anspach, Jakob Burris and Jacob Watt; and freshmen Carson Basich, Skyler Ebright and Noah Jock.

Call is assisted by Luke Fabry. Terry Fabry is a volunteer assistant.

The Panthers will call St. Clair Lanes as their home boards.

HARRISON CENTRAL has enjoyed a lot of success in both boys and girls action in the past, and much of the same is expected this season as each team welcomes back a state tournament qualifier.

Junior Aleyna Runevitch finished 36th overall last winter and will be seeking a third letter this winter. She averaged 174 last year when she captured the Buckeye 8 and Division II individual titles. She also earned second team all-OVAC honors. Her career-best game is 247.

Also seeking a third letter is the team’s lone senior in Tory Thompson, who was fourth in the Buckeye 8 and all-OVAC. She averaged 156.

Sophomores Cami Basich and Lauren Best lettered last season. Basich was the Buckeye 8 runnerup to Runevitch and averaged 132.

Sophomore Karlea Thompson and freshman Alexis Lishick round out the squad.

The girls were 11-3 last season and won the OVAC title, as well as the Buckeye 8 and qualified for the district tournament. They are 84-25 in seven seasons.

On the boys side, senior Trevor Thompson returns for his fourth season. He finished 96th after placing ninth as a sophomore when he was second team all-state. He has a school-record high game of 299. He averaged a lofty 201 last winter when he won the sectional tournament crown. He is a two-time district champ.

Classmate Zachary Keyser is a two-year veteran and earned all-Buckeye 8 and all-OVAC honors as a junior when he rolled a 192 norm.

Senior Nathan Willis is also a two-year letterman while senior Lane Handing lettered last year. Classmate Peyton Lewis and juniors Davis Chrisman and Corey Hayes round out the team.

Bobbi Jo Parkinson has been at the Huskies’ helm since their existence, with Katie Norris as her assistant.

“We have been working hard this year to improve technique and averages. They have had some very nice scores during the matches we’ve had so far,” Parkinson said. “They are doing their best and having fun while doing it.

“We are hoping to make a good appearance at the tournaments and advance as far as possible this year,” she added. “We have a great group of young people that love the game of bowling.”

The Huskies were fifth in the state in 2018-19 and rolled a 300 Baker game that season. They were an impressive 15-2 last season when they won the Buckeye 8 and were OVAC runnersup and district tournament qualifiers. They are 82-29 in seven seasons.

Harrison Central has several options for home matches as they utilize JD Lanes in Cadiz, JR Lanes in New Athens and Valie Lanes in Jewett.

MARTINS FERRY has a new head coach in Greg Steele. COVID-19 issues have hampered the Purple Riders in the early going.

“We had to start practice later than scheduled and we lost two of our first three matches against Linsly and Wheeling Central due to West Virginia postponing its season,” Steele said. “Our opening match with Harrison Central wasn’t head-to-head as we bowled remotely. We bowled at St. Clair Lanes and Harrison Central bowled at JD Lanes in Cadiz, then we compared scores.”

Four returning lettermen highlight the boys’ team, with seniors Noah Kovalsky and Zane Phillips leading the way. Juniors Jackson Romshak and Francis Toohey are two-year letterwinners.

Freshman Hayden Ring, Walker Romshak and Blake Wines round out the roster.

The girls only have three members in senior Makenna Klarr, junior Meghan Mahan and freshman Lyndsy Phillips.

“I feel our boys can be competitive with anyone on our schedule,” Steele advised. “Though the girls team is small in numbers, I believe they will be able to hold their own against full teams.”

The Purple Riders will roll their home matches at St. Clair Lanes.

MONROE CENTRAL is also coached by the aforementioned Russell and uses the Russell Family Bowling Center as its home lanes. He has high expectations for both the boys and girls teams.

“I’m very confident that both teams will be very competitive. Each team has returning seniors that participated last year and another senior boy who took last year off but returned this year and has been devoting his practice times to be the comeback bowler,” Russell noted. “I look forward to both teams continuing to improve as the season continues. I am looking forward to a couple of these bowlers to win at sectionals and districts.”

Leading the list of returnees on the boys side is senior Devon Harrell. He is a three-year letterman and qualified for the district tournament last season.

Classmate Brock Sexton is also a three-year veteran. He is the team captain.

“I’m looking for Brock to lead the team this season,” Russell said.

Senior Brandon Elliott returns after taking last year off. He lettered as a sophomore.

“I look for good things from Brandon,” Russell allowed.

Junior Luke Monahan is in his third year and has improved from last year, according to his coach.

“Luke is very strong-willed at wanting to improve,” Russell pointed out. “He is expected to be one of our leaders.”

Junior Dustin Landefeld and sophomore Remington Wechbacker are first-year bowlers.

“Dustin has come on strong and continues to improve,” Russell said. “Remington is a good addition to our team. He has bowled in junior leagues before and I look forward to him having a good career.”

Russell has seven girls out this season. Three of those are returnees and include senior Anna Weddle and juniors Dayna Porter and Emily Moore.

“Anna has been instrumental in helping the girls win over the last two years. She is our team captain and has a good chance of advancing to districts,” Russell said. “Dayna is in her second year of bowling and is expected to instrumental to the team success. Emily is improving and is another team leader.”

Junior Jenna Essig, sophomore Kaylee Ferguson and freshmen Baylee Schwaben and Chloe Christman complete the roster.

“Those four girls are continuing to improve each practice,” Russell said.

RIVER has 11 bowlers in its second season of competition, with five returning from last year. However, there is only one girl — two-year letterwinner Carlie Lee, a senior.

The boys roster is senior-dominated with two-year veterans Andrew Murphey and Chris Baker heading up the group of seven. Others are Jake Rose, Jagger Knight, Tyson Randall, Michael Johnson and Colin Lamp. Sophomores include two-year lettermen Kendall Cross and Grady Palmer, along with Mason Randall.

The Pilots will use the Russell Family Bowling Center east of Woodsfield as their home lanes.

“This is only our second year for having a bowling team at River. We have grown from last year and have a great group of kids improving each match,” first-year head coach Arlene Cross said. “With COVID making it hard to travel we are making the best of it and keeping the kids safe. We are looking forward to a good season.”

Lloyd Cross is the assistant coach.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE is once again led by head coach Courtney Reinbold who enters her third season. She has been with the program since it started as a bowler, volunteer coach and assistant coach.

“Honestly, I’m just hoping we get to bowl,” she said after being quarantined twice during the preseason and first couple of weeks of the season. “These kids deserve a season, but we do have to balance it with safety.”

Senior Haley Vaughn leads the girls team, which has seven returning letterwinners. Vaughn has lettered three years while junior Sabrina Frazier has two letters. Senior Aislynn Soos and juniors Emma Poe, Amelia Woollard, Emily Mozena and Whitney Foltin all lettered last year.

“The girls will likely be a rotating bunch,” Reinbold admitted. “I’m lucky to have a few girls with potential, but due to the OHSAA rule change limiting me to six varsity in one match, it’s going to be a mix-and-match season to get all the kids the time they deserve.”

The boys team has five members, led by junior two-year letterman Shane Jackson. Sophomore Chas Anderson lettered last year.

Newcomers include senior Kenny Coleman, junior Michael Phillips and freshman Alex Brocklehurst.

“I’m short on boys this year. We didn’t have a lot of new signups due to COVID, and we lost a couple key players to injury, work and COVID.”

ST. JOHN ACADEMY has six bowlers out this season, four girls and a pair of boys.

“St. John Academy is delighted to be returning to the high school bowling arena. This year is completely unlike any year since I began coaching bowling 16 years ago at the high school level,” Irish head coach Gary Holubeck said. “Not only teaching the kids how to become better bowlers, but worrying about their safety and all the new rules we need to follow directed by the OHSAA.

“It’s hard not to give a high-five or a big hug to a fellow teammate that just made a terrific start, let alone trying to bowl with a mask on,” he added. “But we’ll get through it.”

The girls are seniors Elizabeth Schnegg and Abby Scott; and freshmen Lauren Moran and Hayley Shuck. Scott is a returning letterwinner and averages 130.

“What an inspiration to our team. She wears many hats,” Holubeck said of Scott. “She’s a terrific bowler, a student-coach and an on-the-lane cheerleader.

“Elizabeth is a true athlete. She’s a first-year bowler, but she is dedicated and a great learner,” the coach said. She averages 132.

Moran averages 110, two pins better than Shuck.

The boys are junior Eric Schnegg and sophomore Cody Scott.

“Both Eric and Cody are first-year bowlers,” Holubeck noted. “They are both fine young men who will only continue to improve.”

Scott averages 135. Schnegg 128.

UNION LOCAL has high expectations entering this season on the boys side as half-a-dozen returnees dot the 9-member roster. Leading the way is senior three-year letterman Bryan Neidert. He is joined by classmates Nathan Brown (2 letters) and Chad Barbe, Dony Franklin, Dylan Usenik and Colten Luyster (1 letter), along with junior Josh Neidert (1 letter). Senior John Gatten and sophomore Cole Harding complete the roster.

“We are really excited to return six members from a team that finished second in districts this past season. A lot of coaches say this every year, but I really believe that this may be the best team top-to-bottom that we have put on the alley since I began coaching three years ago,” head coach Doug Stephens said.

“The lineup is packed with experience including the Neidert brothers (Bryan and Josh) who finished second and third in the district tournament last season.

“Nathan, who finished last season as our anchor, is bowling the highest average he has in his high school career,” Stephens added. “Colton, Dony and Chad were all valuable members of the team last season and all return to put their stamp on things.

“John and Cole were a big part of our JV this past season and look to gain some varsity time this year,” Stephens continued.

“Dylan gained some experience as a freshman and has returned to the team for his senior season. He has cracked the starting lineup this season and we are looking for big things from him.”

The Lady Jets return OVAC champion Alexis Stewart. The junior has lettered her first two seasons. She is joined by senior three-year vet Emma Rowan, along with classmate Hannah Eikleberry who lettered last season.

Junior Kaylee Turner and sophomore Chloe Porter lettered a year ago.

Sophomore Cat Pavell and freshman Kelsey Usenik round out the team.

“Our girls return a lot of experience as well this season but there are some newcomers as well that we look to integrate into the lineup. I am really excited to see what this girls team can do this season,” Stephens allowed.

“We are really excited to see what last year Alexis can do to build upon her sophomore season where she really came into her own,” he added. “She has a chance to do big things this year.

“Emma returns this season after being one of our most consistent bowlers last season. We look for Emma to be a leader for this team and for her to be the glue that keeps the team together in tough times.

“Chloe looks to build on a stellar freshman campaign, and we look for her to take the next step in her development and be one of our top bowlers this season.”

Turner, Eikleberry, Pavell and Usenik “will all look to contribute this season, and all are capable of doing just that.”

Assistant coaches are Preston Eberhart, Taylor Powell and Heidi Garbesi.


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