Tied for first after three rounds of the OCC-Central Division tournament, the Upper Arlington High School boys golf team entered the final round Sept. 17 at Darby Creek with little margin for error.

Tied for first after three rounds of the OCC-Central Division tournament, the Upper Arlington High School boys golf team entered the final round Sept. 17 at Darby Creek with little margin for error.

The Golden Bears rose to the occasion just as coach Doug Geckeler hoped they would. Although they shot a 303 to place second to Hilliard Davidson (302), they finished ahead of Dublin Coffman (304), which had shared the lead after three rounds. Hilliard Darby (310) finished fourth in the round, followed by Thomas Worthington (319), Worthington Kilbourne (346), Central Crossing (354) and Westland (383).

UA captured the OCC-Central championship, finishing 25-3 in league play to edge Coffman (24-4). Davidson (22-6) was third, followed by Thomas (16-12), Darby (13-15), Kilbourne (8-20), Central Crossing (4-24) and Westland (0-28).

"Our kids responded to the pressure," said Geckeler, whose team won the first round Aug. 13 at Granville and the third round Sept. 3 at the Players Club at Foxfire. "We talked about the mental toughness of our team, and ever since (the St. Charles Invitational on Aug. 30) they've responded to that pressure.

"Coffman is an excellent team. I'm proud of the kids, particularly my seniors who put a lot of work in. They deserve credit for hanging in there. They deserve the championship."

The OCC championship was UA's fifth in a row and 12th in 13 seasons.

With 21 championships in 28 seasons in the OCC, UA has more titles than any other program. Worthington, an original member of the OCC since the 1968-69 school year, won 12 titles before the Kilbourne opened in 1991. Since then, Kilbourne has won five titles and Thomas has won four.

"It's always special, but this year it was extra special because of how close it was," senior Jason Lantz said. "When you have to fight for it, you appreciate it more.

"We were all very stressed at the end (of the final round) and very relieved. That's basically Coffman's home course. They're very comfortable there. We knew we had a lot to overcome. I'm really proud of us. We pulled through when the pressure was on."

Colin Allen, who led the team in the final round with a 2-over-par 74, averaged 75.5 over four rounds to make first-team all-league. Only Davidson's Matt Renner (72.5) and Thomas' Brad Lucas (74.75) had lower averages.

Nathan March (76.75) also made first-team all-league and Lantz (77.25) and Robbie Gerlach (78.25) made the second team. John Sawhill narrowly missed making honorable mention as he averaged 81.33 over three rounds. Thomas' Ryan Conlon and Darby's John Hilditch averaged 81.25 to secure the final two spots on honorable mention.

UA will play in the Division I sectional Wednesday at Granville. The top four teams and top four individuals on non-qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 7 at Apple Valley.

The Bears are seeded sixth in the district behind Dublin Jerome, Pickerington North, Mount Vernon, St. Charles and Dublin Coffman. North and St. Charles will be among the 13 teams at the sectional site.

"(The players) are pretty anxious to keep going," Geckeler said. "Hopefully we haven't peaked yet. Our players feel comfortable (at Granville).

" It's a course where you better play well if you want to make it out of the sectional."

The Bears have qualified for district 12 consecutive seasons.

"We can't take anything for granted," Geckeler said. "Nothing is automatic."

"We have to keep focused and not get too far ahead of ourselves," Lantz said.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and schedule for the Upper Arlington boys and girls golf teams:

BOYS

Sept. 8 -- Finished first (292) in Wooster Invitational

Sept. 13 -- Findlay Trojan Invitational canceled

Sept. 17 -- Finished second (303) in fourth round of OCC-Central tournament at Darby Creek behind Hilliard Davidson (302) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (304), Hilliard Darby (310), Thomas Worthington (319), Worthington Kilbourne (346), Central Crossing (354) and Westland (383)

Saturday -- At UA Invitational at Scioto Country Club

Wednesday -- At Division I sectional at Granville

GIRLS

Sept. 9 -- Finished third (386) in third round of OCC-Ohio tournament at Bent Tree behind Pickerington North (334) and Gahanna (351)

Last Saturday -- Played in Toledo St. Ursula Invitational

Last Monday -- Shot a 185 to finish behind Dublin Coffman (157) and Watterson (168) at Champions

Last Wednesday -- Played in fourth round of OCC-Ohio tournament at Mill Creek

Monday -- At Division I sectional at Mill Creek. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 7 at Bent Tree.

Of note: The Bears were third at 10-5 behind Pickerington North (15-0) and Gahanna (11-4) in OCC-Ohio tournament before last Wednesday.