SIDNEY — Sidney’s boys bowling team has won the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division every season since 2014. The Yellow Jackets are looking to not only keep that up, but to return to the state tournament this season.
Sidney, who finished first in the GWOC’s tournament last year, is hoping to make the tournament after missing last season. The Yellow Jackets made the 2016 state tournament.
”Our group of seniors were apart of that team, and they want to get back there for their final season,” Sidney coach Trent Knoop said. “I think we have the team to accomplish both goals this season. We have four seniors on the varsity team this year, so we have plenty of experience back. There will be four sophomores that see a good amount of playing time as well this season.
“I’m excited to get them into game situation to see who steps up and performs for us. We’ve been having good practices to start the season, and I think we are getting better and better.”
Leading the way will be senior Austin Simon, who was the North player of the year last year. Simon rolled games of 269 and 268 for a 537 series in a season-opening quad match on Nov. 17, which Sidney won.
“Austin is going to go down as one of the better bowlers Sidney has seen,” Knoop said. “He has a good head on his shoulders, he’s a great leader, and he has worked hard all summer to improve a few weak areas in his game.”
Sidney has three three seniors who will be key contributors in Sean Martin (second team all-North last season), Lucas Finke and Damion Phillis. Martin had a 423 series to open the season, and Phillis had a 374.
“I believe all three of them will be huge help to the younger kids with their leadership,” Knoop said. “They have all been on varsity the last few years, so they know what they’re doing on the lanes.
Four sophomores will round out the team, including Drake Cromes and Harrison Fisher, who saw playing time last season.
The other two sophomores are Jaxon Rickey and Logan Finke. Knoop said Rickey switched from a one-handed style to a two-handed style over the summer.
“I’m excited to see what Jaxon will do this year,” Knoop said. “… He has improved a ton. If you haven’t seen two handed bowling, then you need to come watch this kid in action.”
Sidney won the season opening quad match by over 50 pins. Bellefontaine, Mechanicsburg and Benjamin Logan also competed.
The girls bowling team is coming off of a 10-8 overall record and 10-5 record in league. The team didn’t make it out of sectionals, but Jenna Beatty went to districts by herself last season.
Heather Gold, who graduated, went to state by herself and got a second team all-Ohio finish. Michelle Abbott has joined the team as an assistant coach, and Knoop said he thinks she will do good things for the girls. Abbott bowled for Sidney from 2010-2013.
Gold is one of five seniors who graduated, but Knoop said the young players are already showing improvement.
”The biggest thing we are doing right now is teaching the game of bowling to the girls,” Knoop said. “We don’t have a ton of experience on the team. We will be working on the fundamentals, adjustments, and spare shooting. I’ve already began to see improvement on the team just within a few weeks of practice.
“We are looking for progress throughout the year. The girls are trying hard, and have the will to learn. They are a easy group to coach, which will go a long way in the improvement aspect of the team. I think we will be a competitive bunch throughout the year.”
Leading the way this season will be Beatty, who is a senior. Beatty was first team all-North last season and made a 20-pin jump in average from 2016-2017.
“I think she will make another jump this season,” Knoop said. “Jenna had some shoulder surgery done in the off season, and nobody knew how she was going to come back. But, Jenna remained focused, and in my opinion, she came back stronger than ever. Beatty will be a great leader, and a great bowler this season.”
The girls also competed in the season-opening quad match, and Beatty led the Yellow Jackets with a 436.
Two other seniors are on the team in Courtney Bridenbaugh and Mackenzie Hickerson. Bridenbaugh had a 313 series to open the season.
“They both are new to varsity this season,” Knoop said. “But, they both having bowling experience. They both are putting in good work at practice, and I look forward to seeing their progress.”
Rounding out the team is junior Autumn Waxler and sophomores Camryn Smith, Nickaylee Hastings, Avonell Martin, Jenesis Jones and Kimberlee Burton.
“Smith is the other one that has a little bit of varsity game time,” Knoop said. “I look for Smith and Hastings to have a good role on the team right away.”
Sidney’s girls came in last in the quad match, but Knoop said he was pleased with the effort and is excited to see how the team progresses.
The teams’ second match of the season is the Ohio High Schools Invitational Kickoff, which is Saturday at the Bowling Palace at the Columbus Square.