Austin Smith enters his second season as the boys bowling coach at WHS.
For Smith, the bowling life cycle is complete. He was a junior the first year Wilmington had bowling in 2005.
“Becoming the coach of this team last year was like going full circle for me,” Smith said. “I was one of the original members and anchor of this program when it began back in 2005 for my junior and senior year. We constantly pushed for top honors within the (Fort Ancient Valley Conference) and that became the norm for years to come. This program, relative to its time, is probably one of the most successful sports programs to come into WHS. Last year was definitely a low point in terms of our record for us but those kids keep fighting throughout the entire season.”
Wilmington struggled early in the season the improved enough to finish third in the SBAAC American Division tournament.
Landon Mellinger and Austin Oglesby are the two returning full-time bowlers from last season. Mellinger earned first team All-SBAAC honors while Oglesby was the Hurricane Award recipient. Smith said he expects Mellinger to push for bowler of the year honors in the American Division. In all, Smith expects 12-14 bowlers in the program.
“Mellinger and Oglesby will be carrying the role of captains this year in two different capacities,” Smith said. “Landon is returning from last year as a captain and is very methodical. He is good at helping others when they are struggling or just starting out. He’s someone that I really lean on when helping new two-handed bowlers to develop their fundamentals. Austin at times was the pulse of this team during matches and tournaments. I look to pull that out of him even more this year as he’s stepping into his first season as a team captain. Matches and espectially tournaments can make for a long day. Having someone there to keep guys up and focused is key in terms to starting and finishing these events strong.”
Hayden Kelley and Kaleb Hogsett are second-year bowlers who will push for a permanent spot in the WHS lineup. Last season, the Hurricane struggled developing a solid fifth and sixth bowler until late in the season.
“Last year we had four returning bowlers for varsity but were looking to develop a fifth,” Smith said. “That needs to happen faster than it did last year. Early on in 2022 we were getting blown out every match. If we can get five and six developed quickly, we will find success this season and push to be back where this program has become accustomed to being, toward the top of the conference.”
Among bowlers not returning this season are 2023 graduate Anthony Perez (170 average) and Isaac Pletcher (202 average).
“Even though the season is just beginning, we’ve had good turnouts at the voluntary open lanes,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of new faces and those who are returning are immediately jumping in to help them get better with the goal of helping the team now and into the future. We are a very young team. Our captains have continued to put in the work during the offseason and their positions are virtually set (but) this is still a format that requires a five-man roster. We don’t have a definitive set 1-5 yet. When the season begins there’s going to be an opportunity for some of the new bowlers to come in and fight for a permanent spot.”
Nov 20^Batavia^RZL^4 pm
Nov 27^Lynchburg^A^7 pm
Nov 29^New Richmond^RZL^4 pm
Dec 6^Western Brown^RZL^4 pm
Dec 9^Ironclad^A^9 am
NOTE: Tournament to be held at Highland Lanes
Dec 11^Goshen^A^4 pm
Dec 13^Clinton-Massie^RZL^4 pm
Jan 8^Blanchester^RZL^4 pm
Jan 9^New Richmond^A^4 pm
Jan 10^Lynchburg^RZL^4 pm
Jan 15^MLK Tourney^RZL^9 am
Jan 17^East Clinton^RZL^4 pm
Jan 22^Goshen^RZL^4 pm
Jan 24^Clinton-Massie^RZL^4 pm
Jan 26^Batavia^A^330 pm
Jan 29^Western Brown^A^330 pm
Feb 3^SBAAC Championship^RZL^9 am
Feb 5^Williamsburg^RZL^4 pm
Feb 7^Senior Night^RZL^4 pm