Upper Arlington High School girls track and field coach Latisha Wilder knew her team would come around once it had a full lineup.
After three weeks marked by subpar weather, a canceled meet and athlete absences because of spring break, the Golden Bears reached a new plateau April 26 by winning the Fulton Relays at Lancaster.
UA won four relay events, finishing first in the discus (193 feet, 6 inches), 6,400-meter (22 minutes, 10.46 seconds), middle distance medley (7:10.67) and shuttle hurdle (1:07.52), and scored 85.5 points to edge runner-up Dublin Scioto (85) as 10 teams scored.
"We finally have a full team together and we're seeing a lot," said Wilder, who also works with the sprinters on the boys team. "The first week of our season, we had spring break and a lot of the team wasn't there. The next week, we didn't have school that Monday and our second dual meet was that Tuesday (April 9 against Hilliard Darby) and a lot of kids didn't compete. Now we finally have everybody, and it's great."
An encouraging sign for UA is the fact that its six relays that finished first or second in the Fulton Relays -- the distance medley (13:21.4), 3,200 (9:44.27) and 1,600 (4:13.86) relays were runners-up -- included only two seniors in Natalie Bayer (shuttle hurdle) and Maren Levering (1,600).
Junior Sarah Heuerman and sophomore Hannah Peale were on the middle distance medley and 3,200 relays, sophomore Erin Simko was on the 6,400 and middle distance medley relays, sophomore Dorrian Jaffe was on the 6,400 and 3,200 relays and freshman Ann Heuerman was on the 6,400 and distance medley relays.
UA also had some strong performances in the field events. Junior De'Nae Reese won the discus with a throw of 102-10 and placed fourth in the shot put (31-7 1/4). Sophomore Alize Adams-Pugh placed second in the shot put (34-6) to help the Bears earn four points in the relay and finished sixth in the discus (85-6), and freshman Suzanne Lowes placed second in the pole vault (16-6 1/4).
The boys team placed ninth (40) in the Fulton Relays behind champion Pickerington North (89) as 11 teams scored.
Senior Ben Kompa had the Bears' best finish in the field events, placing fourth in the discus (135-2 1/2) as UA finished fifth (236-3 1/2) in the relay. The Bears also placed fifth in the 800 (1:32.81) and 1,600 (3:32.7) relays.
"We expect well more than 150 feet by the end of the year," Wilder said of Kompa, who had a throw of 146-9 in the dual meet against Darby. "I've seen him go over 150 in practice, but with throwers, you have to have the right conditions a lot of times to see some growth. I think Ben's fully capable."
Hartney's successors in two sports named
UA didn't leave its program to find successors for longtime cross country and boys track and field coach Dale Hartney, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Girls track coach Latisha Wilder will take over the cross country program, and assistant track coach Tim Jewett will be promoted to head coach of the boys track program, boys athletics director Michael Schaefer announced April 23.
Wilder is in her second season as head coach of the girls track team. Jewett has been an assistant track coach for the Bears for 11 years, Schaefer said.
"They've both been great influences to the kids," Schaefer said. "Those programs are heading in the right direction and (Wilder and Jewett) just made sense (to hire)."
Hartney served 28 seasons as the cross country coach and is in his 23rd season as the boys track coach. In track, he has worked mostly with the distance runners in both the boys and girls programs.
"I love running," Wilder said. "I enjoyed it a lot as an athlete (at Case Western Reserve University for a year before transferring to Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.), and when (Hartney) said he was retiring, I wasn't sure he was serious. Once it was obvious he was, I thought about the job and felt like I'd have enough time to dedicate to working with the kids."
Girls lacrosse team entering stretch run
The girls lacrosse team roared out of a 12-day stretch without any games by defeating Darby 17-0 in an OCC-Buckeye Division contest on April 25 and going 1-1 against two of the top teams in the state in the Cleveland Heights Invitational on April 27.
UA defeated defending Division II state champion Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 7-4 and lost to defending Division I champion Medina by the same score. The Bears lost to Medina 10-9 in the state final last year, marking the fourth consecutive season in which they finished as state runners-up.
Sophomore midfielder Molly Plasket had three goals against Hathaway Brown and senior midfielder Sydney Farwick scored three against Medina.
The Bears, who limited Medina to eight shots on goal, entered the week 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.
UA played 2012 Division II state runner-up New Albany in a league game May 1 and has home games against Cincinnati Sycamore on Friday, May 3, and Dublin Coffman on Saturday, May 4, before visiting Thomas Worthington on Wednesday, May 7, in its OCC-Buckeye and regular-season finale.
The game against Coffman originally was scheduled for April 16 but was postponed because of bad weather.