Joel Cutler, the new Upper Arlington High School girls track coach, will be a familiar face to many members of the program. Pending board approval, Cutler will replace Dan Rohrs, who coached the team for the last nine years.

Joel Cutler, the new Upper Arlington High School girls track coach, will be a familiar face to many members of the program. Pending board approval, Cutler will replace Dan Rohrs, who coached the team for the last nine years.

Cutler taught some of the team as a physical education teacher at Greenesview Elementary and has worked with several members of both the boys and girls teams at Hastings Middle School. He also coached some of the athletes as an assistant football coach at the high school.

"I'm looking forward to coaching there and putting a lot of fun and positive energy into the (team)," Cutler said.

Senior Laura Hoffman was excited to hear that Cutler would be coaching the high school team. Hoffman was a former Greenesview student who ran track for Cutler at Hastings from 2004-06.

"He's awesome," said Hoffman, a middle-distance runner for the Bears. "He's able to balance working hard and staying focused with goofing around and having fun.

"In elementary school, he'd have this rubber chicken and we'd always steal it and try to hide it around the school. He'd find it, come back to the class and pretend to be all mad. (The ability to balance dedication and fun) is his greatest asset to his coaching style."

Cutler, like Rohrs, will focus on the sprinters for both the girls and boys teams. Boys coach Dale Hartney trains the distance runners for both teams.

"I think he's going to be a great addition to our team," athletics director Chris Potts said. "He and coach Hartney just hit it off right away. Upper Arlington's girls program has always been well-respected and hopefully he can continue to build the program."

The girls team lost 10 athletes to graduation, including six from the sprint and hurdle group. Still, UA should return solid sophomore and junior classes that provided a lot of its points last year.

Sophomore Olivia Menden and juniors Leah Moody, Sarah Hobbs and Bethany Yunker were the only members of the team to advance to the Division I state meet June 5-6 at Ohio State. Hobbs, Moody, Yunker and Menden finished 11th in the 3,200-meter relay in nine minutes, 27.15 seconds. Menden also placed 14th in the 1,600 (5:25.95). UA was fourth in the eight-team OCC-Central meet and fourth in the district 3 meet.

The boys team did not have anyone compete at state for the first time in five years and lost nine athletes to graduation. Six of those graduates, including twins Nathan and Matthew Davis who both signed with Miami, were sprinters. The Bears finished sixth in the OCC-Central and were 10th in the district 3 meet.

In 1999, his first year of coaching at Hastings, Cutler estimated only 25-30 athletes came out for track. Last year, that number was up to 124.

"That's a huge number of athletes for a single middle school," said Cutler, a 1994 Jonathan Alder graduate. "It's rewarding to see how far the program has come. The reason why it's growing is the kids are having fun. I try to take some of the lessons of track and apply it to life."

Cutler, a former offensive lineman at Dayton, also works with the offensive line with the UA football team.

One of the things Cutler hopes he has with his athletes is an open line of communication.

"The biggest thing you have to build as a coach is a lot of trust and communication with your athletes," he said. "You need to get everyone performing at the best of their abilities and working hard. To do that, the coach and the athletes have to have common goals and develop a sense of trust."