Bowling is now an officially recognized and sanctioned sport by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). Because of this first-ever approval by the OHSAA the enthusiasm and response by the four boys varsity teams and four girls varsity teams in Clermont County has grown significantly.
The Barons are in the forefront, at least record-wise, of the eight Clermont County teams. The Blue and White sports a 6-0 overall record and 2-0 in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Cardinal Division (FAVC-C).
The Amelia victories have come over Milford 2793-2744, Anderson 2785-2719, Norwood 2306-1862, Goshen 2716-2394, Turpin 2785-2190, and Little Miami 2442-1651.
“This has been an outstanding season,” said Tony Kellerman, head coach of the Barons.
Statistically, Amelia tops all 12 FAVC schools in any of the three divisions with an overall team average of 2702; Mason is second, 44 pins behind the Clermont countians at 2658.
Senior Joshua Kellerman, the coach’s son, is ranked fifth among 82 FAVC keglers with a 205 (overall) average. Senior Chris Pfaffroth (seventh in the FAVC) is averaging 204, junior Chris Andler (10th in the FAVC) is averaging 202, sophomore Wes Lukemire (16th in the FAVC) is averaging 192, and senior Brandon Huber (17th in the FAVC) is averaging 191. Rounding out the top six of this stellar squad is senior Dan Ruggerio who is averaging 163. Kellerman paces the Barons with a team best 450 two-game series, Huber has rolled a 450, Lukemire 449, and Pfaffroth 443. Huber owns the best single game effort of the season with a 256, Ruggerio has a 252, Kellerman and Pfaffroth both are credited with 247, Andler has a 202, and junior Joshua Brafford 191.
Joshua Kellerman is receiving interest from colleges who are seeking his bowling talent. Included among these is Saginaw Valley (Mich.) State University which is currently the top-ranked collegiate bowling program in the United States.
His dad perceives only improved efforts from his son. "I anticipate him even being better this season if he can relax," he said.
"I'm senior blessed," said the Barons' mentor. "I think if we can get past Wilmington we can run the table in the conference and be unbeaten for the regular season. If they work on one frame, one game at a time the wins will take care of themselves. . .
"We have a good foundation for next year with our returning varsity members and the junior varsity that has some good bowlers, too. The program has a good future."
The JV keglers he pointed out were freshman Zac Vestring who is averaging 182, sophomore Jesse Radcliff, and juniors Matt Dameron, Evan Risley, and B.J. Broyles.
Coach Kellerman is proud that the quality of prep bowling in the county, both boys and girls, is improving and that each of the four county schools support and boost each other. But he emphasizes his charges practice the Amelia team philosophy of "HEART" - have fun, effort, attitude, respect, and teamwork.
The Baron girls are 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the FAVC-C (third among six teams).
The victory came against Turpin 1912-1828. The losses have come opposite Milford 1789-1159, Anderson 1916-1246, Norwood 1524-1496, Goshen 1739-1624, and Little Miami 1857-1629.
"They're getting better," said Kellerman who also coaches the distaff squad. He is assisted with both the males and females by Kirk Merman and Don Newkirk. "We have three girls who have never bowled before, but they're getting better."
The top scores have been turned in by Kellerman's daughter, Amber, a sophomore, who is averaging 163 (ninth best overall in the FAVC) and a 203 game and 378 two-game series to her credit. Senior first-year kegler Megan Radcliff has rolled a 255 series (101 average). Senior Tone Sorrell "has come a long way." The exchange student from Sweden had never bowled before and recorded a 60 in her first game. Now she has registered a 298 two-game series (145 and 153) and is averaging 114.
The coach of the Blue and White is enthusiastic about the future of the program. Sophomores Ashley Durel (110 average) and Abby Smith (93 average) are exhibiting good potential.
"I love their competitiveness and team spirit," said Kellerman of his team. "They have a good attitude and definitely want to get better. They are very enthusiastic, but we need to get more girls to try out for the team."
Glen Este Boys
The Trojan lads are 2-3 overall and in fourth place among six teams in the FAVC Buckeye (FAVC-B) Division.
The Purple and White knocked down McNicholas 2506-2196 and Milford 2744-2551. They were not spared by LaSalle 2959-2707, and in a tri match, Northwest 2518, Wilmington 2516, and GE 2463.
Team wise, Glen Este is fourth among the one dozen FAVC teams with an overall team average of 2602.
Individually, Kevin Briggs possesses the best single-game average of 203 that places him ninth among the FAVC keglers. Dustin Brinson is 17th averaging 191, Ryan Leinberger is 21st averaging 189, Matt Clyburn and Mike Jones are tied for 25th with an average of 185. Shane Simpson and Kyle Barrett are both averaging 159 and Zach Romohr is averaging 135. Briggs has fired a high game of 255, Clyburn 246, Brinson 237, Leinberger 233, and Jones 213.
"They don't know it, but they're a strong team. They are cohesive," said coach Kathy DeMarko. "When this group finally clicks, look out!"
Glen Este Girls
Glen Este's girls have enjoyed the most success of the county's quartet of female kegler contingents.
The Trojan women are 3-1 overall and in fourth place in the FAVC-B.
The Purple and White struck down McNicholas 1999-1836, Milford 2054-1747, and in a triangular confrontation Wilmington rolled 2439, GE 2204, and Northwest 2053.
As a team, Glen Este sports the fourth-best average among the one dozen FAVC contingents with a 2112.
Michelle O'Doll has the best per-game individual average for the Trojans with her 163 (tied for ninth overall in the FAVC), Terri Reed is 13th with a 159 average, Noelle Beagle (20th) 152, Katie George (22nd) 150. Completing the varsity line-up, Rachel Johnson averages 139, Sarah Haven 128, and Rachel Ruehlman 112. O'Doll has a single-game best of 244, Reed 199, Georg 177, Johnson 171, Beagle 167, Haven 153, and Ruehlman 125.
"This team doesn't have a ton of experience, but it is clicking better than any team I've had," said DeMarko. "This is a good group of girls. They are good friends with each other and that helps things out...
"With this group I've been working on them to focus much better."
Goshen is the only Southern Buckeye Conference school to have a bowling program. Therefore, the Warriors can only contend with out of conference adversaries and they compete on a Fort Ancient Valley Conference schedule, the league of which Goshen was a member two years ago.
The Red and Gray is 2-1 overall with triumphs coming over Little Miami and Mount Healthy and the lone loss coming opposite Amelia.
"This team is actually doing a little better than I thought we would do," said head coach Matt Smallwood.
Senior Chris Ashcraft owns the best single-game score turned in for the Warriors with "about a 236." He is followed by Billy Whitaker, a junior, with "about a 222," and Brent Waits, a senior, with "about a 212."
The Goshen taskmaster is grateful to Amelia assistant coach and Cherry Grove Lanes pro shop manager Kirk Merman for "donating bowling balls to help the kids" and "helping them with their approach and other things."
Smallwood is enthusiastic about the future of this season and seasons beyond this one. "As long as they keep working hard, I look for us to do well in the future. One thing I would certainly like to see is for Southern Buckeye Conference schools to start bowling teams."
Coach Sarah Hunt could not be reached for comments.
The Eagle varsity is 4-3 overall and in eighth place among the 10 teams in the Greater Miami Conference (GMC).
Milford levelled Madeira 2633-2502, Loveland 2270-1836, Turpin 2396-2323, and Little Miami 2243-1718. Two of the three losses have come versus fellow Clermont County teams and future Fort Ancient Valley Conference opponents - Amelia 2793-2744 and Glen Este 2744-2551, and the other was to Anderson 2389-2110. Next school Milford will be a member of the FAVC.
"They're doing about average. I was hoping for a couple of more wins. We started out like gang busters, but I am pleased with them," said Frank Ritzmann, Milford head coach.
Senior Eric McMullen is the pacesetter for the Red and White with his 195 average and 447 two-game series that included a team-best 246 single-game total. Senior Andy Halcomb is averaging 186 with a 243 single-game high. Senior Taylor Varney is averaging 184.
"They'll get better. Five of my six varsity team members are seniors," said Ritzmann. "I expect them to pick it up."
The E-Gals match the boys with a 4-3 overall standard. They, too, have not squared off with any GMC rivals.
The distaff squad has pinned Madeira 1701-1282, Amelia 1789-1159, Anderson 1646-1536, and Turpin 1751-1604. Glen Este 2504-1747, Loveland 1601-1459, and Little Miami 1802-1755 were the losses for the Red and White.
"They're doing well for being an all junior and sophomore team," said Ritzmann who also is the chief guide for the girls. He is assisted with his coaching with both the boys and girls squads by Roger Bussell a nd Sonja Sittason.
Milford's mainstays have been junior Brittany Jacobs, the only letter earner back from last year, who is averaging 133 and has a 311 two-game series that includes a team high single-game score of 190. Kati King, a junior, is averaging 138, and Erika Prato, a junior, is averaging 127 and she has a two-game series of 298 that includes a single-game score of 171.
The Milford mentor is convinced the program will continue to improve. "They can only get better. I want them to work hard and to gain consistency and get around a 150 each game."