Instead of traveling hundreds of miles on a school bus this month, Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving coach Dan Peterkoski is wearing down pencils and erasers and wracking his brain pondering lineup changes.
After winning three meets and two duals in December, the Golden Bears have four home duals this month before competing in the OCC-Central Division meet Jan. 26 at Thomas Worthington. That gives Peterkoski plenty of time to mix, match and fine-tune his lineups for the approaching postseason.
Asked his assessment of the season's first month, Peterkoski was noncommittal.
"Time will tell," he said. "We're done with our most intense training. Now we're trying to figure out exactly who will go where."
That process didn't start Dec. 1, when the Bears defeated Gates Mills Hawken 102-83 in a dual at Hunting Valley University School before finishing first (138 points) in the eight-team Solon Relays later that day, 24 points ahead of runner-up Hudson. During the preseason, each swimmer listed her season objectives and preferred events.
"A lot of it depends on individual goals," Peterkoski said. "We look at where they've placed and what they want to do. Hopefully, those things go together. Sometimes we have girls not swimming in their best event, but they're willing to make that sacrifice to help the team.
"From a relay standpoint, we'll collect a lot of data by the end of the year from practices and meets and that's what we'll base our decision on. We get to be in a lot of invitationals early in the year, so that gives us a chance to see what we need to emphasize."
UA also won the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State, scoring 439 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Granville (288) as 48 teams scored, and the Big Eight Invitational on Dec. 14 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, scoring 416 points to edge runner-up Cincinnati St. Ursuline (406) in the six-team field.
The Bears also competed in the Canton Christmas Invitational on Dec. 15 at Branin Natatorium, but team scores were not kept.
UA defeated Watterson 115.5-69.5 in a dual meet Jan. 4 and has home dual meets Saturday, Jan. 12, against Centerville, Jan. 18 against Granville and Jan. 19 against Olentangy Liberty before competing in the league meet.
"Now it's down to three or four weeks of quality work, then the girls will start to rest. That's the most important thing at this point," Peterkoski said. "Really, it's not that long of a season. We're only five weeks from the district meet."
Boys basketball team ready for stretch run
The boys basketball team entered an important week of OCC-Central games with an up-tempo 74-68 win at Marysville on Jan. 4.
It marked the most points UA has scored against an opponent other than Central Crossing since Dec. 28, 2010, when it defeated Erie (Pa.) Mercyhurst 79-31. The Bears averaged 79 points in two league wins over the Comets last season and 52.5 points against the rest of their opponents the past two seasons.
"(Marysville) pressed and we got out in transition and shot the ball very well. I think we shot 64 percent from the floor and made a lot of layups," coach Tim Casey said. "That hasn't been the norm for us to play that kind of game, but I was glad to see us respond like that."
Junior guard Danny Hummer said a starting lineup consisting of himself, post player Logan Richter and guards Gabe Akins, Griffin Caldwell and Kevin Vannatta has helped the Bears maintain a fast pace.
"We like to run. We've done that a few games this season," Hummer said. "They weren't missing many shots and neither were we."
UA played Westland on Jan. 8 and travels to Dublin Coffman on Friday, Jan. 11. Entering the week, Coffman sat atop the OCC-Central at 5-0, one game ahead of UA and Liberty. The Bears lost to Liberty 57-37 on Dec. 14.
UA and Coffman split their two league meetings last season, with the Bears winning 68-58 at home and losing 51-49 at Coffman.
"We're glad to be in a position to do good things in the league, and the guys know what it takes to play at this level," Casey said.
'Break' helps gymnastics team
The gymnastics team started fast, winning the season-opening Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 15 at Hilliard Davidson.
Mary Kate Keethler finished first on vault (8.8), helping the Bears score 128 points to finish first in the nine-team event, ahead of runner-up Hilliard Darby (123.4).
Even so, coach Abigail Schmidt was fine with having three weeks between the Hilliard Invitational and her team's OCC-Ohio opener Jan. 7 against Darby as part of a quad-meet that also included Dresden Tri-Valley and Hilliard Bradley.
"It really helps to have that month break before the next meet," Schmidt said.
"It gives us time to work on things that may be inconsistent or whatever else needs worked on."
Schmidt also spent time during the break between meets trimming the varsity roster from 17 to nine athletes.
"I didn't realize it'd be this hard, this sad, to have to cut some girls," she said. "But at the same time, it protects the girls I have that made the team because I can give them more focus. They get more of my energy and my assistant coach's energy. It's a step in the right direction to make this program grow."