Most of Clermont County’s high school varsity bowling teams took advantage of the sport being recognized as an official state sport for the first time by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Most of the county’s contingents enjoyed winning seasons.
The Barons were unbeaten (15-0 overall) and champions of the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Cardinal (FAVC-C) Division with a record of 8-0.
“We met and beat all of our expectations,” said head coach Tony Kellerman. His team qualified for the regional tournament and was ranked among the top ten in Greater Cincinnati throughout the season. He expects a good season next year; the junior varsity keglers were also undefeated.
Amelia led the FAVC’s 14 competing bowling teams with an overall three-game average of 2,744 pins. Senior Chris Pfaffroth earned the second-best average in the overall FAVC statistics with a 217 (287 was his best game). Senior Joshua Kellerman was fifth (209, 279), junior Chris Andler was 12th (198, 267), sophomore Wes Lukemire was 18th (192, 244), senior Brandon Huber was 21st (191, 279), and senior Dan Ruggerio was 50th (168, 252).
The Baronesses were 2-13 overall and 2-6 (fourth place) in the FAVC-C.
"This was a good growing season for us and I expect us to keep getting better," said Kellerman who coached a fairly inexperienced varsity. His daughter, Amber, a sophomore, was a regional qualifier.
As a team, the Blue and White was 12th with a FAVC-C overall average of 1,736. Kellerman earned the 12th best average among the girls of the FAVC with a 163 and a high game of 203. Sophomore Ashley Durel rolled a season high of 182.
Glen Este boys
The Trojans were 10-8 overall and 6-4 (third place in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye Division) (FAVC-B).
"I'll miss my captains (seniors Matt Clyburn and Kevin Briggs). These two more than any others I've had," said Glen Este head coach Kathy DeMarko.
The Purple and White lost some close contests, but did record that amazing first-ever 300 Baker game.
"I expect a pretty good season next year. The reserve team was very good this year and we have two good eighth graders moving up," DeMarko said.
Among the overall FAVC statistics, GE was third with an overall 2,676 team average. Sophomore Dustin Brinson had the best average for the Trojans in the FAVC with a 203 which placed him eighth (single high game was 277). Clyburn and Briggs tied for 14th with a 195 average and personal highs of 256 and 259, respectively. Sophomore Mike Jones was 21st (191, 278), junior Ryan Leinberger was 27th (187, 256), and sophomore Shane Simpson was 57th (161, 203).
Glen Este girls
The Trojan Women enjoyed the best season of Clermont County's distaff bowlers. They were 14-3 overall and 8-2 (second place) in the FAVC-B. A third place finish in the sectional tournament earned the team a trip to the regionals.
"I've got four seniors and I'm going to miss them desperately," said DeMarko, adding, "I think we may be even better next year."
The Purple and White had the third best team average in the FAVC with a 2,182. Junior Michelle O'doll topped the Trojans with an FAVC average of 163 which placed her 12th in the conference and she had a single-game best of 244. Junior Noelle Beagle was 16th (158, 198), sophomore Rachel Ruehlman was 21st (157, 223), junior Katie Georg was 22nd (155, 203), senior Terri Reed was 23rd (153, 199), sophomore Rachel Johnson was 25th (150, 225), and senior Sarah Haven was 32nd (146, 193).
The Warriors were 7-2 for the campaign. The wins came over Little Miami (twice), Mount Healthy (twice), Loveland, Norwood, and Turpin. The losses were to Amelia and Northwest.
"It was a great season. The kids really improved from last year. We came close to qualifying for the district this year. I was extremely pleased with how we did," said coach Matt Smallwood. The Red and Gray was a close fourth place among the 12 teams in the sectional tournament (the top three teams qualify for the district).
Chris Ashcraft, a senior, achieved the best average for Goshen with a 188. The other top averages belonged to Shane Horne, a junior, who averaged 172, Billy Whitacre, a junior, 163, Cody Lawson, a 162, Brent Waits, a 160, and Andrew Himes, a 157. Ashcraft's 247 was the Red and Gray's best single game tally for the season.
"We had three seniors so we've got quite a few returning and if they work over the summer we should be much improved again," Smallwood said. "I expect Billy Whitacre, Andrew Himes, and Shane Horne to be the leaders next year. Chris Ashcraft was a good leader this year."
"I'd love to see the (Southern Buckeye Conference) recognize the sport.
The Goshen distaff squad also enjoyed a winning season with a standard of 5-4.
"It was a pretty good year especially considering what a young team we had. They improved a lot over the season," said coach Sarah Hunt.
The best average for the Red and Gray belonged to senior Alicia Burke with her 130. Hunt was impressed with Burke's performances considering she was just a first-year member of the squad. Returning letter earners Jessica Gunter, a junior, averaged 128, and Michelle Bumbarger, also a junior, averaged 126.
"Hopefully we'll continue to be improved next year, too. I expect things to keep getting better. We have more kids coming out every year," said Hunt. "I'd like the Southern Buckeye Conference schools to begin bowling and for the conference to recognize bowling as a league sport."
The Eagles wrapped up their campaign with an 8-12 record, 4-9 (eighth place out of 10) in the Greater Miami Conference (GMC). Milford also wrapped up its membership in the GMC, next year beginning competition in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference.
The team averaged 2,442 pins per competition (eighth in the GMC).
Coach Frank Ritzmann pointed out the number of victories was a big improvement over last year when the Red and White boys varsity won only two contests.
"We were eight and five at one point and then lost seven straight due to illness. I had to bring up two (junior varsity) kids.
"I had hoped for a better season. The expectations were much higher than what we did."
Senior Eric McMullen became just the second Milford kegler to qualify for the district tournament (after teammate Taylor Varney who qualified last year). McMullen enjoyed a successful season with his team best 192 average which is a school record along with another record-setting mark of a 262 single-game score.
Milford, as a team, has shown steady improvement. Two years ago the Red and White averaged 157, last year 163, and this year 171.
Chris Wenzlaff, a senior, achieved the best two-game high series for the season with his 485 total. He averaged a 167 per game.
Another standard established was the Eagles recorded four Baker games of more than 200 pins per individual.
In addition to McMullen, Varney (a 172 average), and Wenzlaff, three other keglers helped Milford to its winning season - seniors Andy Halcomb (173) and C. J. Edwards (144), and freshman Andrew Wenzlaff (152).
"We'll be rebuilding next year. We've got one freshman, one sophomore, and three juniors coming back," Ritzmann concluded.
Ritzmann is also the girls coach. This varsity contingent was 6-14 overall for the season and 2-11 (ninth among 10 teams in the GMC), but their mentor pointed out his charges "lost some close games."
The E-Gals averaged 1,774 (10th in the GMC) per competition.
"We were rebuilding. We had no seniors," said Ritzmann. "They did about what was expected, but all of their averages improved over last year's."
Senior Katie King averaged 135 this year (121 the year before), sophomore Sami Klingshim 133 (123), and junior Brittany Jacobs 128 (126). Rounding out the varsity quintet was junior Angela Payne with a 125 average and junior Lauren Higgins who averaged 124.
"We're looking for a very good year next year," Ritzmann said. "If their averages improve as much as they have in the past we'll do very well in our first year in the Fort Ancient Valley Conference. "
Ritzmann credited his assistant coaches Roger Bussell, Sonja Sittason, and Jimmy McMullen for their help in achieving continued improvement in both the boys and girls programs.