The 16th season of the Western Ohio High School Bowling Conference team play is set to begin this weekend in Minster, Ohio. The undercard for the weekend will be held in Wapakoneta as the Shawnee Indians will roll what amounts to an exhibition match against the defending OHSAA champions.
If the recently completed preseason singles championships are any indication as to the skill and depth of the Redskins there is the clear potential of a conference and another state championship run this season.
Brandon Kennard of Wapak defeated Troy Buehler of St. Henry in the finals of the singles event 254-212 with teammates Tyler Miller and Nate Kaeck rounding out the top four of the tournament.
The girls side of the draw was equally impressive for the Redskins with Britni Hosterman defeating Paige Hartings 164-162 in the final match with Amanda Stachler of Parkway and Wapak teammate Katie Manger balancing the final four.
Shelby Timmerman and Carlee Hosterman of Wapak finished in the top 10 as well, perhaps indicating that there may be a changing of the guard in the conference.
Brian Van Meter, the current head coach at UNOH and former skipper at Wapak feels that this could be a great year for the Redskins.
“I really feel that each of the two teams has a chance to be very good. The boys of course won the state last season and they will be every bit as good this season.”
The conversation actually started with a look at the girls team, however.
“The girls team has a chance to be very good this season. It would not surprise me if Brittni Hosterman and Brandon Kennard won the singles tournament later today.”
So were the prophetic words for Van Meter on the UNOH trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Saturday morning. Later on that afternoon Hosterman and Kennard proved him right.
The Shawnee Indians Athletic Director Dick Heath has signed the card and for the Indians to begin the process of getting acclimated to interscholastic play. The first step will be Saturday at Astro Lanes when the boys do battle with the defending state champs in an exhibition at 2 p.m.
With Celina back in competition this season, it also swings the door wide open for the balance of the conference, Elida — Bath and Kenton to offer the sport to their student athletes.
There are still some hoops for the Shawnee team to dance through. Rob Mitchell was the only candidate that met the requirements of the school to be eligible to coach. Mitchell was planning to help coach his mega talented daughter Jennifer and her friends but took on the boys also to assure that they could compete.
He has a good start on two good teams with his daughter Jennifer as well as Julia Riepenhoff. On the boys side of things he is blessed to form a team with a base of Drew Ambroza and William Kleffner.
Back to the conference — You would not think it possible that a team could lose anywhere from eight to 10 seniors and be competitive the following season, but Coldwater is Coldwater. Any team with Paige Hartings, Jessica Butler and tradition will be a factor.
Wapak as indicated will be very strong, Versailles will again be a factor and St Marys seems to have potential as well.
The Lady Thunderbirds’ Cecilia Riepenhoff had a nice singles tourney, finishing sixth.
It will be a growth season for the ladies of the conference but come tournament time something great always happens for a team in the WOHSBC.
There are some that would say that this version of the Redskins may be a better squad than last year’s state championship titleholders.
Austin Krites and Chandler Kaeck have graduated but the state champs were very deep. Brendan Kennard, Nate Kaeck, Blake Knueve are a year older and the newest phenom Tyler Miller seem ready for competition.
We all know that Coldwater is always going to be a factor. The boys team shares one common thread with the Lady Cavaliers — coach Rick Hartings.
Coldwater did not place anybody in the final four but it had 10 bowlers place in the top 42.
St Henry lost Garret Stout. Coach Jim Stout is back as is Mike Stout and Buehler.
The Redskins are deep as well with five bowlers in the top 25 of the singles event.
This could be the season that Eric Schwaiger gets LCC to the next plateau. The Thunderbirds were a factor last season and any team that has James Riepenhoff, Mitchell Hoffman, Ian Friesner and Jared Nolte has the chance to compete. The season will conclude at 20th Century, the home of the T-Birds. Could that be a determinant factor?
The Titans of Ottawa Glandorf had three bowlers in the top 17 of the singles event, Andrew Krukowski, Brendon Gerdeman and Joe Roof. They always seem to be in the mix by the end of the season and could be tourney factors.
The biggest part of the opening weekend probably will be the Alumni tournament that will be held at Plamor Lanes at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Hartings said he was considering setting up bleachers for the event as many of the alumni have been sending entries in for the tournament. Who may play?
Brian Garman has the day off from his UNOH coaching responsiblities. Will my all time number one conference star make an appearance? How many conference state championship performers will appear? Hartings is anticipating a great turnout.
Lima Senior’s new bowling program will begin Dec. 2 when the boys and girls teams battle Temple Christian School at the Spartans’ home, 20th Century Lanes. The match-up begins at 4 p.m.
The boys bowling team is coached by Michael Kirian and the girls are coached by T.J. Neuhaus. A maximum of 16 players are allowed on each team. Both the boys and girls teams are largely filled.