Early success marks start to UA's season
One week into the season and the Upper Arlington High School girls cross country team had won a pair of championships.
The Golden Bears opened Aug. 22 by winning the 12-team New Albany Classic before finishing first in the eight-team Mount Vernon Kiwanis Invitational on Aug. 25
"The girls ran together as well as they possibly could (at New Albany)," said coach Dale Hartney, who is in his 28th season leading the program. "There were less than a minute between the leaders, and the others also ran well."
In the New Albany Classic, UA scored 38 points to finish well ahead of runner-up New Albany (85). Junior Dorrian Jaffe led the Bears, placing sixth in 20 minutes, 42 seconds behind champion Leah Wallace (18:56) of Reynoldsburg.
Sophomore Megan Brewer (seventh, 20:43) was next for UA, followed by freshman Anne Heuerman (eighth, 20:46), junior Sarah Heuerman (ninth, 21:06), junior Karla Jeggle (13th, 21:25), sophomore Erin Simko (14th, 21:25) and sophomore Kristen Seely (18th, 21:39).
"Dorrie Jaffe, Megan Brewer and the Heuermans were supposed to run together," Hartney said. "They weren't winning until the two-mile mark and then they took off. They are getting used to running with each other and running as a pack."
Others who competed at New Albany and could work their way into the team's top seven are junior Reyna Lusson (19th, 21:40), senior Judith Westwood (32nd, 22:28), junior Zoey Dwiggins (38th, 23:07) and junior Sarah Pomerantz (43rd, 23:30).
UA scored 33 points to win the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Invitational, as Teays Valley (57) placed second.
Jaffe (third, 21:02.3) led the Bears, followed by Brewer (fourth, 21:03.2), Anne Heuerman (fifth, 21:04.1), Sarah Heuerman (10th, 21:41.9), Simko (11th, 21:43.6), Jeggle (13th, 21:45.9) and Seely (14th, 21:47.7).
Last season in the Division I state meet at National Trail Raceway, UA finished 13th (300) of 16 teams behind champion Brunswick (113).
In the 16-team regional meet at Pickerington North, the Bears placed fourth (130) to secure the final state-qualifying spot, finishing behind Hilliard Davidson (74), Dublin Coffman (82) and Dublin Scioto (100).
In the 15-team district 3 meet at Watkins Memorial, UA finished second (56) behind Davidson (43) while New Albany (77), Pickerington North (114), Dublin Jerome (128) and Delaware (174) also qualified for regional.
In the OCC-Central Division meet last year at Westerville North, UA finished third (60), behind Coffman (38) and Davidson (48) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (101), Hilliard Darby (121), Worthington Kilbourne (179) and Central Crossing (218). Westland did not have enough runners for a team score.
As part of OCC realignment this summer, Darby and Kilbourne moved to the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Marysville and Olentangy Liberty, both of which had been in the OCC-Cardinal.
Boys team also starts quickly
The boys team finished second in its first two meets.
UA was runner-up (101) in the 13-team New Albany Classic behind New Albany (24) and was second (92) in the eight-team Mount Vernon Kiwanis Invitational behind Olentangy (34).
"That's the best opening performance (at New Albany) that we've had in a long time," said Hartney, who is in his 35th season leading the boys program. "I gave them instructions to run together and the top five runners were 1:02 apart. They were never that close last year."
Senior Nathan Perry (14th, 17:45) led UA in the New Albany Classic, followed by senior Stuart Silver (19th, 18:08), senior Jacob Fowler (20th, 18:13), freshman Ian Hamilton (23rd, 18:24), junior Kyle Eppert (34th, 18:47), sophomore Chengxiu Wang (35th, 18:48) and senior Hunter Bloecher (42nd, 19:02).
Others who competed at New Albany and could make a push for a spot in the Bears' top seven are junior Curtis Jepson (48th, 19:16), sophomore Kevin Baxley (53rd, 19:19), junior Stephen Pidcock (58th, 19:26) and freshman Nick Gill (66th, 19:38).
Perry also led the Bears in the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Invitational, placing sixth (17:41.6). Silver (15th, 17:59.3) was next, followed by Fowler (20th, 18:18.7), Hamilton (25th, 18:28.2), Eppert (26th, 18:34.1), Wang (41st, 19:04.6) and Jepson (42nd, 19:05.4).
"A year makes a huge difference," Hartney said. "Nathan Perry was very good but was injured most of last season. He had a really good track season and he has already ran as fast as he did all of last season."
In the district 3 meet last season, the Bears finished 11th (259) of 16 teams, behind regional-qualifiers Coffman (58), Liberty (61), Westerville North (118), Watkins Memorial (136), Lancaster (141) and Marietta (142).
In the OCC-Central meet a year ago, UA finished sixth (166), behind Coffman (31), Davidson (38), Central Crossing (70), Darby (115) and Thomas (135) and ahead of Kilbourne (173). Westland did not have enough runners for a team score.