The Mason girls’ bowling team went undefeated in the Greater Miami Conference last season and reached the state tournament for the first time in the program’s history.
The Comets lost most of their starters to graduation, but head coach Connie Smith likes what she has returning and coming up from the junior varsity.
“I expect great things from them,” Smith said. “They’re fantastic girls. Every one of them has worked hard throughout the season and beyond the season.”
Kelsey Mitchell is the Comets’ lone returning starter. As a sophomore last season, she had a 178.4 overall average.
“I believe she’ll be my top bowler this year,” Smith said. “She’s very motivated. She worked all summer long on bowling and … has continued to keep bowling to keep her average up. I’m expecting her average to be better.”
Joining Mitchell on the varsity are senior Bryana Braxton, junior Brianna Poirer, senior Amber Taylor, sophomore Miriam Markvan and junior Gabriella Braxton.
“I expect good things from them,” Smith said.
Mason’s junior varsity competed in a few varsity tournaments last season. In one, it knocked out the top seed and finished fourth, Smith said.
“Their JV team was super tough last year,” Colerain coach Debbie Potzner said. “Mason was our only loss last year (in the GMC) and they’re our very first match this year. I don’t think that’s going to be an easy match.”
Mason finished 10th at the state tournament, and opens the season No. 2 in The Enquirer’s area girls’ bowling coaches’ poll behind Mercy.
Bobcats coach Mike McDonald said he has everybody coming back, led by seniors Sabrina Weibel and Sarah Corso. Weibel had a 194 average and was the GGCL Scarlet Athlete of the Year last season.
“All my girls should be 180 to 200. I should have seven girls in that category,” McDonald said.
McDonald expects Colerain, Glen Este, McAuley, Oak Hills and Seton to be some of the area’s strongest teams this season.
McAuley finished second behind Mercy in the GGCL Scarlet division last season. The Mohawks’ top returners are sisters Lexi, a senior, and Madison Baker, a sophomore, and junior Miranda Mushrush.
Lexi Baker was the area’s top individual finisher at the state tournament last season. She rolled a three-game series of 607 (206, 203, 198) to finish third and earn first team All-Ohio honors.
Natalie DeMeo also will be one to watch, coach Jenny Popp said.
“She will be a big asset to help the Baker sisters keep McAuley in the running,” Popp said.
STATE TOURNAMENT: There are now two divisions in girls’ high school bowling in Ohio. The Division II state tournament is scheduled Feb. 28-March 1 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus. The Division I state tournament will be the following week (March 7-8) at the same site.
DEFENDING STATE CHAMPION/RUNNER-UP: Team – Coldwater/Hubbard; Individual – Erika Hartings, Coldwater/Kelsey Koesters, Coldwater.
ODDS AND ENDS: Defending state champion Coldwater will compete as a Division II school this season….The Ohio High School Invitation Kick Off Tournament on Dec. 7 at the Columbus Square Bowling Palace in Columbus. Mercy and Colerain are entered in it….The annual Holiday Classic at S & S Western Bowl is scheduled Dec. 14 for the girls’ tournament and Dec. 15 for the boys’ tournament….Glen Este senior Leslie Campbell has signed with Wright State. As a junior, Campbell had a 206.6 overall average. , 212.3 match average and a 176.5 postseason average. She was the Eastern Cincinnati Conference’s Athlete of the Year and shared The Enquirer Girls’ Bowler of the Year honors.■ … Colerain won a sectional championship over Mason last season and returns three senior starters – Jenna Coldiron, Julianne Whitis and Kairee Bedinghaus. Coldiron led the GMC with a 205.8 overall average last season. “She continues to get better every year,” Potzner said. “I would not be surprised if she throws a 300 this year. She’s an amazing little bowler.” … Middletown won a sectional championship last season and just missed qualifying for the state tournament, finishing sixth at the district championships. The Middies have one senior on their roster and a new coach, Mike Rinehart. “I’m very excited,” he said. “They have a lot of potential.” Sophomore Olivia Harbin (186.6), senior Jacey McIntosh (180.9) and junior Makayla Rinehart (177.9) ranked in the top 10 in the GMC in average, according to the conference’s website