After finishing 13th in the Division I state meet last year, members of the Upper Arlington High School girls cross country team hardly shed a tear.
The Golden Bears smiled because they knew their top seven runners would be returning this season and they fully expected to be back at National Trail Raceway.
According to coach Latisha Wilder, a big reason UA will compete in the state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, is because its focus never wavered.
"All they want to do is get to the state meet and be competitive," said Wilder, who coached the boys team last year and is in her first season coaching the girls squad, following the retirement of 28-year coach Dale Hartney. "Starting back this summer and even before that, their goal was the state meet. We know what we have to do every week to get there, and I think the girls raced well (at regional)."
Sophomore Ann Heuerman paced UA at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North, placing sixth of 123 runners in 19 minutes, 3.25 seconds, as the Bears scored 104 points to place second behind Gahanna (90) as 16 teams scored.
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to state.
Also competing at regional were senior Dorrian Jaffe (11th, 19:18.78), junior Megan Brewer (23rd, 19:55.61), freshman Elisabeth Barbour (28th, 20:04.47), seniors Sarah Heuerman (49th, 20:30.56) and Karla Jeggle (78th, 21:06.72) and junior Erin Simko (79th, 21:07.6).
Ann Heuerman was part of a pack of runners who placed between third and seventh, finishing within 1.1 seconds of each other. She said she tucked in behind several runners in an attempt to partly avoid brisk conditions and a wind that occasionally gusted to more than 30 mph.
"I knew going in that I could get out fast and tuck in behind people if possible," Heuerman said. "I stayed with the pack when the wind was going and that played to my advantage. I knew after the second mile (that) we were basically done with the race and I just had to go, maybe try to pull away from the pack behind me."
Heuerman and Wilder both credited the team's success to its depth. The Bears' Nos. 4-7 runners have remained the same but their places have changed throughout the season.
The only addition to UA's lineup from a year ago is Barbour, who was the Bears' fifth runner in the season-opening Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club Invitational on Aug. 24 and has remained in the top seven since.
"Sometimes I can be seventh and, if I have a good race, I am fourth," Barbour said. "Everybody is getting better. If somebody has a good race, there's no telling what they can do."
Consequently, Wilder wouldn't be surprised if the order of the Bears' finishes changes at state.
"We just have an awesome team of seven girls. At any given day, that order can shuffle around," Wilder said. "That's one of our main strengths, that we do have that depth and that those girls can be in any order. That's what happens when you have solid depth. Certain girls race best in certain conditions and on certain courses."
The boys team did not have any regional qualifiers.
Close games defined boys soccer season
Eleven of the boys soccer team's 17 games this season were decided by two goals or fewer, including a season-ending 2-0 loss to 17th-seeded Dublin Jerome in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19 at home.
UA, which was seeded 13th and had a first-round bye, finished 8-8-1 overall after going 5-8-4 last season.
"We competed through every game," said coach Mic Rogers, whose team also had lost to Jerome in the regular season, falling 1-0 on Sept. 5. "At the end of the season, we didn't have the result we wanted. We didn't meet all of our goals, but I saw us get better throughout the year."
UA went 4-3 in the OCC-Central Division to place fifth, behind Dublin Coffman (6-1), Olentangy Liberty and Thomas Worthington (both 5-2) and Hilliard Davidson (4-2-1) and ahead of Marysville (2-4-1), Westland (1-6) and Central Crossing (0-7).
Senior forward/midfielder Juan Barros led the Bears with seven goals and five assists and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Also earning all-league honors were senior forward Joey Jentgen (second team), senior defender Griffin Turnbull (special mention) and senior forward Max Beck (honorable mention).
Jentgen had seven goals, including the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over Thomas on Aug. 27, and two assists.
"Barros had a great senior year," Rogers said. "So much of what he did led our offensive attack. Joey scored some important goals. Defensively, our two center backs -- (junior) Doug Barron and Griffin Turnbull -- were our leaders."
Among the expected return-ees are Barron, junior midfielder Jack Strahm, sophomore midfielder Jack Stummer and sophomore goalkeeper Will Collis, who recorded or contributed to seven shutouts this season.
Football team set to face Shamrocks
The football team plays host to Coffman in its regular-season finale Friday, Nov. 1.
UA improved to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Central with a 69-8 win over Westland on Oct. 25 and has won its last two games and three of its last four. Coffman is 6-3 and 5-1 and has won five consecutive games, including a 24-12 victory over Liberty on Oct. 25.
Both teams enter their matchup needing a win to have any chance of making the Division I, Region 2 playoffs. The Shamrocks were projected to be 14th in the region's computer ratings released by the OHSAA on Oct. 29 and the Bears were expected to be 20th. The top 16 teams in the region make the playoffs.
Neither Coffman nor UA controls its postseason destiny. Both teams will need help to secure a playoff berth.
Against Liberty, Shamrocks quarterback Ben Beckett completed 12 of 15 passes for 119 yards and rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Through nine games, he is 56-for-100 passing for 685 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Running back Dre Kendrick has fueled Coffman's ground game with 1,195 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He had 75 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against Liberty.
"(The Shamrocks) are a team that attacks you everywhere on the field," coach Mike Golden said. "They have a good, solid running game and their quarterback does a good job of distributing the ball."
UA is averaging 215 yards rushing per game, led by senior running back Chris Frey, who has verbally committed to Michigan State as a linebacker. Frey has rushed for 771 yards and six touchdowns on 136 carries on the season and had 47 yards rushing on six carries against Westland.
Senior slotback Lewis Hughes rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown on nine carries against Westland and has 347 yards and three scores on 51 carries this season. Senior running back Chase Greenlee has 330 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 62 carries.
Junior quarterback Kyle Kaparos has completed 52 of 111 passes for 684 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
"(UA's wing-T offense) is going to be another challenge for us," Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. "I think (against Liberty) we played a good, physical game. It was a good win for us because of where we've been and the teams we have played."