Otis Winston is excited about a lot of things as he begins his tenure as Upper Arlington High School's boys track and field coach, not the least of which is the young talent he sees on a daily basis.

Underclassmen have accounted for most of the boys and girls team's top performances so far this season.

"It's interesting to watch this team," said Winston, who spent the past nine years coaching the girls team at New Albany. "We're covered from pole vault to the 3,200 (meters). We have pole vaulters. We have solid jumpers. We have nice throwers and a new throws coach (Bryan Ferres, previously of Central Crossing) doing some good things with them.

"It takes a village to train these kids. We all work together for the same result."

The Golden Bears have returned seven Division I regional qualifiers from a year ago in seniors Meredith Caswell, Zoe Manoukian and Emma Poole, sophomore Madeline Nichols and freshmen Eileen Dunn and Heidi Heuerman of the girls team and junior Garegin Soghomonyan of the boys team.

Caswell is a high jumper, Dunn, Heuerman, Manoukian and Nichols are distance runners and Poole and Soghomonyan are pole vaulters.

Soghomonyan turned in the boys team's top performance in the Panther Invitational on April 7 at Hilliard Darby, vaulting 12 feet to finish third. UA scored 17 points to finish last in the eight-team field, behind the champion and host Panthers (145).

That height was a foot short of Soghomonyan's personal best, which he set at regional last year when he cleared 13-0 to finish seventh.

"I am just starting off the season and I've only had a couple meets, so there are definitely improvements I can make to get back to where I was last year," said Soghomonyan, who fell one win shy of qualifying for the Division I state wrestling tournament in March. "I want to go about two feet better than I did last year, and then overall I want to make it to the state tournament this year. I know I have a long way to go, but I'm confident I can contend."

Other top performers for the boys at Darby included senior Justin Whitcomb, who placed fourth in the long jump (19-8); sophomore Max Czerwonka, who tied for fourth in the high jump (5-6); and junior Avery Heath, who was fifth in the 200 (23.67 seconds), two spots ahead of classmate Colin Isenbarger (23.7).

The distance medley of junior Emma Zid, Dunn, Heuerman and Sharp placed second (13:33.52) to lead the girls team to 34 points and seventh place in the Panther Invitational, behind champion Darby (139). Freshman Samantha Ansel shined in the hurdles, finishing fourth in both the 100 (16.88) and 300 (51.45).

"She could be something special," Winston said of Ansel. "I like what I've seen out of her already."

Winston was a four-time high jump champion at Ohio State from 1993-97 and a three-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes men's basketball team from 1994-97.

The girls team is coached by Latisha Wilder, who is in her sixth season.

UA opened its season at home March 28. The boys scored 81 points to finish ahead of Darby (56) and Worthington Kilbourne (30), and the girls were second (52) behind Kilbourne (66) and ahead of Darby (35).

Other top contributors for the boys team include seniors Michael Pomerants (distance) and Manny Tzagournis (sprints), juniors John Castetter (throws), Nicholas Chieffo (distance), Eddie Greenlee (throws), Thomas Harper (throws), Dexter Lewis (hurdles, sprints), Dylan Lewis (sprints) and Bryce Martyn (distance), sophomore Cooper Lape (distance) and freshman Isaac Perry (hurdles).

Other top contributors for the girls include seniors Mary Lee Fenner (hurdles, jumps, sprints) and Lindsey Spangler (pole vault), junior Jenna Bowers (middle distance), sophomores Emma Ramsey (sprints), Elizabeth Schueler (hurdles, sprints) and Hannah Sharp (sprints) and freshmen Anna Boggs (sprints) and Adrienne Wachtman (throws).

Bruns, Giller back to
lead volleyball team

Keeping the bigger picture in mind, third-year boys volleyball coach Greg Holowchak didn't get too excited when his team won two of its first three matches.

"It's going well. The match we lost (to begin the season, 25-13, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20 at St. Charles on March 24) was close, but we did well," Holowchak said. "We saw things we liked it, but there's a lot we need to work on. Passing isn't good enough yet. Passing and serving will determine how good we'll be, and our serving hurt us against St. Charles. We have good hitters, but better passing will show how good they can be."

UA followed up the loss to St. Charles with two wins in as many days, defeating host Chillicothe 25-15, 25-11, 25-12 on March 28 and Reynoldsburg 25-11, 25-6, 25-15 in its home opener March 29. The Raiders are a first-year program.

The Bears have six returnees, including senior outside hitter Gage Giller and junior right-side hitter/setter Mark Bruns. Giller had 174 kills, 77 solo blocks and 66 digs last year, while Bruns had 136 kills and 41 digs.

"Gage and Mark have been with us since freshman year and they're doing very well. They will be our leaders," Holowchak said.

"They're hitting the ball well and they're a lot better overall. Mark's almost 6-7 and Gage is 6-6. I feel good with them in the front row."

UA was 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing Hilliard Davidson on April 11.

The Bears lost to Gahanna 28-26, 25-19, 25-17 on April 4 and Pickerington North 25-18, 25-16, 25-13 on April 6 in league matches.

The other returnees are seniors Cam Gallucci (setter), Chad Lewis (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Parker Rapp (libero) and junior Chris Acock (middle hitter).

Last season, UA went 3-18 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio and lost to North 25-9, 25-9, 25-11 in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

TRACK & FIELD

March 28 -- vs. Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne

April 7 -- Panther Invitational at Hilliard Darby

April 11 -- at Hilliard Bradley with Pickerington North

April 15 -- Dublin Classic at Dublin Coffman

April 21 -- Fulton Relays at Lancaster

April 25 -- at Hilliard Davidson with Westerville Central

April 28 -- Olentangy Invitational

May 2 -- at Dublin Coffman

May 5 -- Larkin-Crosten Invitational at home

May 11, 13 -- OCC-Central meet at Dublin Coffman

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

March 24 -- at St. Charles

March 28 -- at Chillicothe

March 29 -- vs. Reynoldsburg

*April 4 -- vs. Gahanna

*April 6 -- at Pickerington North

April 10 -- vs. Northland

*April 11 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*April 13 -- at Dublin Coffman

*April 18 -- vs. Pickerington Central

April 19 -- at Briggs

*April 20 -- at Gahanna

*April 25 -- vs. Pickerington North

April 26 -- at Watterson

*April 27 -- at Hilliard Davidson

*May 2 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

May 3 -- vs. Chillicothe

*May 4 -- at Pickerington Central

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and softball teams:

BASEBALL

April 13 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange

April 15 -- At Massillon Jackson with Alliance Marlington

*April 17 -- At Marysville

*April 19 -- Home vs. Marysville

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 13 -- At Pickerington North

*April 18 -- At Newark

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 13 -- Home vs. Pickerington North

SOFTBALL

*April 13 -- At Hilliard Davidson

*April 17 -- Home vs. Westland

*April 19 -- At Marysville

*League contest