As happy as Upper Arlington High School cross country coach Dale Hartney was about his girls team winning a Division I district championship on Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial, he was equally as excited about the performance of his boys team.
For the first time since 2009, the boys team advanced to the regional meet, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North.
The Golden Bears scored 183 points in the 18-team Division I, district 3 meet to secure the sixth and final regional-qualifying spot behind champion Dublin Jerome (51). New Albany (53), Olentangy Liberty (55), Newark (143) and Gahanna (149) rounded out the top five, with Westerville Central (207) finishing seventh.
Senior Stewart Silver paced the Bears, finishing 21st in 17 minutes, 22.97 seconds. He has been UA's lead runner five times since classmate Nathan Perry was sidelined in late September and early October with an ankle injury.
"It definitely falls to me to lead the team. It's a great responsibility," Silver said. "As I'm running, I'm trying to think of the team and how much they need me to keep pushing to the front. It definitely keeps me going."
Rounding out the scoring for the boys team were freshman Ian Hamilton (34th, 17:52.74), senior Jacob Fowler (36th, 17:59.17), sophomore Chengxiu Wang (40th, 18:10.38) and freshman Nick Gill (52nd, 19:30.39). Also competing were Perry (61st, 19:57.86) and senior William Hamburger (67th, 20:24.27).
"The thing that's so good is Nathan tried and he did get to finish," Hartney said. "He didn't run all that well, but he still finished. 'Nar' Wang and Nicholas Gill, a sophomore and a freshman, ran unbelievably well; (maybe) the best races they've ever run, especially with this competition.
"This is the first time in the past three years we've made the regionals. It's really great. That patience has paid off. It was really nice for us to get back."
The girls team scored 49 points to edge runner-up Dublin Scioto (61) in the 10-team district 3 meet. Also qualifying for regional were Jerome (73), Thomas Worthington (115), Hilliard Darby (121) and Olentangy Orange (176).
Freshman Ann Heuerman led the Bears, placing sixth in 19:39.43. Senior Dorrian Jaffe and sophomore Megan Brewer were right behind her, placing seventh (19:41.45) and eighth (19:41.59), respectively.
"Megan and Dori really push me. I really look up to them," Heuerman said. "I knew I was with them most of the race. I wasn't sure exactly how close anybody else was. We just had to push ourselves as much as we could to get to regionals."
Also competing for UA were sophomore Erin Simko (11th, 20:15.37), junior Sarah Heuerman (17th, 20:31.67), junior Karla Jeggle (22nd, 20:40.36) and sophomore Kristen Seely (28th, 21:03.71).
"Both Erin and Sarah ran great. That made a huge difference," Hartney said. "We can surprise ourselves if we do things like that. I just told them to run a good race, qualify and do the things you try to do as a team. That was basically it."
The girls team will be looking to make its second consecutive state appearance, after finishing 13th (300) of 16 teams last year behind champion Brunswick (113). The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional qualify for the state meet, which will be Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
The boys team hasn't been to state since 2004, when it finished last (337) of 16 teams behind champion Middletown (113).
Water polo teams advance to state
Both the boys and girls water polo teams advanced to the state tournament, which will be held Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at Mason.
The boys team defeated Cincinnati Princeton 17-3 in the second round of the South Regional on Oct. 19 at Mason and beat Cincinnati Sycamore 12-2 in the regional final Oct. 20 to improve to 23-4 and advance to state.
UA will face Thomas Worthington in one of the state semifinals and Toledo St. Francis and Sycamore will play in the other. The winners will meet in the state final and the losers will play in the consolation game.
The Bears are seeking their first state championship since 2009. Last season, they lost to eventual champion St. Charles 14-13 in overtime in a state semifinal before beating Milford 12-9 in the consolation game.
The girls team defeated Milford 16-6 in the second round of the South Regional on Oct. 19 at Mason and beat Cincinnati Sycamore 14-1 in the regional final the next day to improve to 24-3 and advance to state.
The Bears, who are the two-time defending state champions and have won nine of the past 11 state titles, will face Napoleon in one of the state semifinals and Thomas and Sycamore will meet in the other, with the winners meeting in the state final and the losers playing in the consolation game.
UA defeated Thomas 15-10 in the state final last year and beat Napoleon 15-8 in the state final in 2010.