In her second season as Upper Arlington High School field hockey coach, Sara Greaves senses excitement about the sport throughout not only her program, but the community.

Thirteen of the 33 players in her program are freshmen, something Greaves attributes to increased participation at the middle school level.

"I'm optimistic because a number of the freshmen were involved in offseason activities, whether that was lifting with the team, summer conditioning, open fields or playing with a club team," said Greaves, whose team was 1-1 overall before playing New Albany on Sept. 6 and is 0-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division. "We kicked off our first-ever middle school camp this summer. We are starting to create a buzz about field hockey in Upper Arlington, so I think that as our class sizes and skill distribution begin to stabilize, we will have a good foundation for future years."

For now, the Golden Bears' fortunes will at least partly depend on the performance of five returning starters in senior Margot Whipps (defender) and juniors Abby Dietrich (forward), Grace Golembiewski (def-ender), Chloe Ruscilli (defender) and Hannah Sharp (midfielder).

Sophomore forward Sophie Croci had two goals in UA's season-opening 4-2 win over the visiting Hilliard Lynx on Aug. 19, and Dietrich and senior forward Mary Jeffers added one each.

UA followed that up with losses to Columbus Academy (5-0 on Aug. 22) and Olentangy Liberty (2-1 on Aug. 30) in its league opener.

Greaves said the team's field vision has improved noticeably since last year, when the Bears went 9-6-1 overall and lost to Watterson 3-0 in a district semifinal.

"We are doing a much better job at finding the (open) space and I think that we are starting to mature in our decision-making," Greaves said. "Granted, four of the five consistent returning starters are juniors this season so we still have room to grow and learn, but we have made definite progress."

Junior Faith Seely takes over as the full-time starting goalkeeper after splitting time with 2017 graduate Libby Mislan last year.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Callie Burton (forward/midfielder), Ryleigh Hutson (midfielder), Natalie Meredith (forward), Sarah Murray (defender), Vivi Roach (forward/midfielder) and Amanda Shroyer (midfielder), juniors Addy Baldwin (forward) and Chloe Dolbow (forward/midfielder), sophomores Sophia Del Tosto (defender/midfielder) and Olivia Wang (defender/midfielder) and freshman Elizabeth Cramer (forward/midfielder).

UA was 5-2-1 in the COFHL-West last year, placing third behind champion Thomas Worthington (8-0). The Cardinals are two-time defending state champions, which gives the Bears an up-close look at their ultimate goal.

"We have a group of dreamers that believe in their potential, so we're going to continue working towards the biggest prize," Greaves said. "I just don't believe in limiting the scope of our goals because anything can happen during the season."

Cross country teams
running well early

Girls cross country coach Latisha Wilder proudly carried the Division I first-place trophy home from the Westerville North Classic on Sept. 2, but Wilder insisted she is not emphasizing finishes early in the season.

"Right now, my focus is on everybody staying healthy and for us to train in this part of the season," Wilder said. "I am not focused on time so much as I am performance and how well the girls are racing and training during the week. Our biggest goal is to qualify as a team for the state meet, but this is one tough region to get through."

Six of UA's top seven runners are back, led by junior Heidi Heuerman, who finished 60th at last year's state meet. Heuerman placed second in the Westerville North Classic (19 minutes, 16.3 seconds) to lead UA to 39 points in the 10-team field, ahead of runner-up Hilliard Bradley (78).

Also back for the Bears are juniors Eileen Dunn and Mallory Sharp and sophomores Lindsey Rush, Madelyn Skidmore and Emma Switzer. Freshman Sofia Sivilotti was in UA's top seven in each of its first two races.

UA opened Aug. 26 by finishing fourth (131) of 12 teams in the Panther Division of the Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North behind champion Liberty (54).

Also vying for time in the top seven are sophomores Erin Hannigan and Sonia Mustric and freshman Elizabeth Lembach.

The boys team is coached by former assistant Scott Meyers, who was Division I state runner-up in 2005 as a senior at Beavercreek and later ran at Ohio University.

Wilder had coached both teams each of the past four years.

Returnees for the boys include seniors Nick Chieffo and Jimmy Contakis, juniors Jack Amling, Drew Paxton, Thomas Richter, Cole Smith and Nathaniel Swords and sophomores Benjamin Crespo and Daniel Owens.

Richter has led the boys in each of their first two races, finishing 18th (16:48.12) in the Pickerington Classic and 15th (16:39.67) in the Hot Summer Bash on Sept. 2 at Hilliard Davidson.

UA was 10th (213) of 12 teams in the Panther Division at the Pickerington Classic behind the host and champion Panthers (85), and finished sixth (162) in the 10-team Hot Summer Bash behind champion Centerville (51).

Boys golfers continue
to lead league tourney

Matt Cramer led the boys golf team for third time in as many rounds of the OCC-Central tournament Aug. 30 at Clover Valley, shooting a 74 to power UA to a team score of 309 that kept them atop the league.

Also scoring for the Bears were Nathan Kelley (78), Quinn Patterson (78) and Dane Goodwin (79). UA finished ahead of Dublin Coffman (314), Davidson (326), Marysville (353), Central Crossing (381) and Westland (529).

The Bears are 14-1 in the OCC-Central entering the fourth and final round Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Darby Creek, ahead of Coffman (13-2), Davidson (9-6), Marysville (6-9), Central Crossing (3-12) and Westland (0-15).

Cramer shot a 77 in the first round Aug. 8 at Apple Valley, tying Goodwin atop the team that day, and added a 74 in the second round Aug. 14 at Turnberry.

Girls golfers close
in on league title

The girls golf team enters the fourth and final round of the OCC-Central tournament Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Royal American needing to finish third or better to clinch its second consecutive league championship.

UA is 15-0 in the league, ahead of Coffman (12-3), New Albany (6-9), Canal Winchester and Davidson (both 5-10) and Marysville (2-13).

In the third round Aug. 29 at Mentel Memorial, Lilly Carine and Emily Hummer each shot a 74 to lead the Bears to a team score of 308, ahead of Coffman (316), New Albany (335), Davidson (351), Canal Winchester (372) and Marysville (375). Also scoring for the Bears were Julia Rabadam (78) and Maddie Frank (82).

Frank shot a program-record 67 in the second round Aug. 15 at Westchester.

UA won the OCC-Ohio title last year, unseating four-time defending champion Pickerington North.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 26 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North

Sept. 2 -- Boys: Hot Summer Bash at Hilliard Davidson; Girls: Westerville North Classic

Sept. 9 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 16 -- Boys: Otterbein Invitational; Girls: Trinity-Valkyrie Cross Country Invitational at E.P. Sawyer State Park

Sept. 23 -- Boys: Saturday Night Lights at Centerville; Girls: Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster

Sept. 30 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 7 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington

Oct. 14 -- OCC-Central at Hilliard Davidson

FIELD HOCKEY

Aug. 19 -- vs. Hilliard Lynx

Aug. 22 -- at Columbus Academy

*Aug. 29 -- at Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 6 -- at New Albany

*Sept. 11 -- vs. Olentangy

*Sept. 14 -- at Dublin Scioto

Sept. 18 -- vs. Watterson

Sept. 19 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

Sept. 25 -- vs. Hartley

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

Sept. 30 -- at Cincinnati Ursuline Academy

*Oct. 2 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Oct. 4 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

Oct. 7 -- vs. Cincinnati St. Ursula

*Oct. 11 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and boys water polo teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 9 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 11 -- Gdovin Memorial Invitational at Zanesville Country Club

Sept. 13 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 7 -- Olentangy Orange and Pickerington North at Blackhawk

Sept. 11 -- Canal Winchester and Gahanna at Kyber Run

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Royal American

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester

*Sept. 12 -- At Central Crossing

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Gahanna

*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Central Crossing

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 7 -- At Dublin Coffman

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 7- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Sept. 12 -- At Westland

BOYS WATER POLO

Sept. 9-10 -- Ohio Cup at Thomas Worthington

Sept. 13 -- At St. Charles

*League contest