The Upper Arlington High School boys and girls water polo teams couldn't have ended their regular-season schedule with a bigger reminder of their goals.
On Oct. 9, the Golden Bears played host to Cincinnati Sycamore, the opponent the boys and girls teams defeated in their respective state finals a year ago. The girls team was 22-1 before facing Sycamore, with its only loss coming against Pennsylvania power West Lawn Wilson in the Beast of the East tournament. Young and relatively inexperienced, the boys team has spent much of the season trying to find its way and was 12-9 before facing the Aviators.
Both teams had almost two weeks off from games before playing Sycamore. UA has eight days off between its games against Sycamore and the start of the South Region tournament, which will be held Oct. 18 and 19 at Mason.
"It is a good way to refocus coming into October," boys coach Mike de Bear said. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel at this point. You shouldn't do that at this point in the season. We're just trying to be more consistent. We're starting two freshmen (goalkeeper Alex Rabe and Drew Wilson) and a sophomore (Ethan Fischer), with more younger guys playing a lot. We have high hopes for this team, and we know we're taking everybody's best shot."
Senior Thomas Trace, who was named state Player of the Year and an All-American last season, had a team-high 75 goals through 21 games. Junior Ian Watson had 44 goals and 21 assists.
"Thomas is obviously our go-to guy, but we're best when our supplemental parts are playing well," de Bear said. "Ian will be our go-to guy next year. He's stepped up at a lot of important times."
The girls team went 2-1 in the Beast of the East tournament Sept. 20 and 21 in Reading, Pa., losing to Wilson 10-7 in a semifinal.
Seniors Julie Dierker, Mara Egeler, Jenny Smith and Betsy Trace and junior Gracie Long have been among the Bears' key players this season.
"Our whole starting lineup has a fair amount of experience," girls coach Dan Peterkoski said. "They're all seniors with the exception of Gracie Long, who is a junior. There should be a lot of knowledge and big-game experience in the pool at any time."
The top three boys and girls teams at the South Region tournament will advance to the state Oct. 25 and 26 at Mason.
Berger, Jung win sectional tennis title
Junior Audrey Berger and freshman Kyra Jung of the girls tennis team won a Division I sectional doubles championship Oct. 5 at home, defeating their teammates, senior Beniva Ganther and freshman Anna-Marie Reynolds, 6-4, 6-1 in the final.
Both doubles teams will be joined at district Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Davidson by sophomore Olivia Kompa.
Kompa placed third at sectional in singles, defeating Watterson's Maria Jeric 6-0, 6-1 in the third-place match as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced.
Berger and Jung won all four matches at sectional. Ganther and Reynolds went 3-1 and Kompa went 4-1.
Also at sectional, freshman Ashley Weeks went 2-1 at singles, falling one win shy of qualifying, and senior Emily Flitcraft went 1-1 in singles.
UA is looking to be represented at state after a one-year absence. No Bears qualified last year for the first time since 1992. The top four finishers in singles and doubles at district will advance to state Oct. 18 at Ohio State and Oct. 19 at Davidson.
The Bears also are still alive in the OTCA Division I tournament. They defeated New Albany 3-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 1 and will play Dublin Jerome in the district final on a date to be determined.
Volleyball team will open tourney on road
The girls volleyball team is seeded 36th of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play a first-round match at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at fourth-seeded Grove City.
The winner will play 31st-seeded Westland in the second round Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the home of the higher seed.
UA lost its first OCC-Central Division match with Westland 25-21, 25-20, 25-19 on Sept. 12. The teams played again Oct. 8. The Bears entered the match 2-17 overall and 1-11 in the OCC-Central and on a 10-match losing streak.
Entering the week, UA hadn't won since Sept. 9, when it beat Olentangy Orange 25-13, 19-25, 25-16, 17-25, 15-10.