A bowler since he was about 4 years old, Westerville Central’s Zack Smock points to his father, Greg, who is a big influence on his development and love of the sport.
As Smock concludes his preparatory career with the Warhawks, Greg remains much of the senior’s success in his role as an assistant coach with the program.
“As soon as I was big enough to pick up a ball, my dad had me there,” said Smock, who hopes to help Central earn its first trip to the state since its freshman season. “He knows my bowling game like no other and when I really need help, he tells me what to do to succeed.”
Smock has the Warhawks in position for their seventh COHSBC-A Division title in eight seasons, as they faced Centennial 9-1 on January 21.
Big Walnut handed Central its first loss at 2,304-2,236 on January 19. The Golden Eagles lost to Olentangy Orange 2,518-2,416 on January 20 and fell to 7-1 in the league, while the Pioneers improved to 9-2.
Central dropped to 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye after losing to Big Walnut, which is 4-1.
“We have (state) in our sights,” said Smock. “We have bowled a lot before then, but we know we are a solid team. We have a good camaraderie. We all know that we can go out and support each other when needed. I don’t want my high school career to end without me back in the state.”
Greg Smock said he is proud to be able to contribute to his son’s development.
“It was great to see his progression and see him grow into a young man and bowler,” he said. “It’s hard to believe he’s going to graduate in the spring. We have a really great group of kids. Our ultimate goal is to return to the state.”
The Warhawks face another even-handed effort led by junior Payton Hartgrove, the only girl on the schedule and battling the boys during the regular season.
She averaged 202 in the action on January 19, followed by Smock and sophomore Logan Henslee (both 198.1), junior Kyle Richardson (190.5) and senior George Anderson (184.5).
“We’re resilient,” Smock said. “We will not give up until the end. I’m sure people are circling our name on their calendars and that’s an honor for us.”
In addition to solid scores, Smock has emerged as a leader throughout his career, according to coach Tony Gonzalez.
“Zack’s getting better,” Gonzalez said. “At the moment he doesn’t have the year he had last year, but from a leadership standpoint he is way above what he’s been before. He really brings the team together in a way that only a (team-mate) can do. There are we’re very happy with it.”
Last season, Smock was among the leaders in the area with a 212.5 average and was named after This weekthe Super 12 team.
Central saw its season end after finishing 18th (3,550) in the Division I section behind champion Marion Harding (4,316). The top 16 teams advanced to the district.
“We’re all thinking about it,” Gonzalez said of the team that hasn’t reached the state since the 2018-19 season. “We don’t talk about it, but it’s one of our goals. We know the conference is tough. There are a handful of schools that can take the top three spots (by district by state). We hope to be one of them. It’s a goal. If we’re in shape, we should be there.”
Along with his father, Smock credits Gonzalez for his development in the sport.
“When we get there,[Gonzalez]is my biggest supporter,” he said. “He believes in me more than anyone. He knows in those moments that he can count on me. Knowing that I have his full support every time I go out gives me the confidence that I can do it.”
Smock isn’t sure if he will bowl in college, but plans to stay active in the sport and play in leagues with his father.
“Sometimes we bowl in leagues now,” he said. “We have a bit of friendly rivalry. I’m at the point where I might be able to take the crown from him. He hasn’t made it easy for me.”