Zoe Rigsby didn't plan to participate in all four events this season for the Upper Arlington High School gymnastics team, and the conversation in which that was suggested by coach Melanie Palsgrove was, by her coach's account, somewhat one-sided.
"She didn't want to do (balance) beam or (uneven) bars, but at the end of the day, it's about your team so we had that conversation and she chose to side with me that she'd do all four events," Palsgrove said, laughing at the end. "When you're young, you don't really see the end result, but down the road, I didn't want her to walk away regretting anything. I know she will walk away from this sport feeling fulfilled at what she did, no regrets."
Rigsby, a senior who took up gymnastics at age 7 and was coached by Palsgrove at Universal Gymnasts in Hilliard, admits her favorite event by a long shot is floor exercise and says her only regrets this season would come if the Golden Bears do not win their first OCC-Central Division championship in 14 years Saturday, Feb. 10, at Hilliard Davidson or reach the individual state meet for the third time in five years.
"It would be nice to get 2018 up there," Rigsby said, pointing to a banner in UA's freshman gym -- in which home competitions are held -- that lists the program's championships. "(This year) is going pretty well for me right now. I just need more repetition to get better overall.
"I've always done all events, but I'm better at some than others and I dislike some more than others. But we needed six people per event, so I came in. I hate bars. Even in club, I hated it, but it's all right. I'm just not as comfortable on them."
Rigsby said floor long has been her preferred event largely because her mother was a ballet dancer for 25 years in San Francisco, Pennsylvania and Columbus.
"I grew up in the dancer world, so floor is just a favorite of mine in that aspect and it's on the ground," Zoe said. "My mother works with us on turns and leaps and stuff because she was never a gymnast, but she watched me growing up so she knows a lot about the sport."
By virtue of her parents, Rigsby also holds the distinction of having a restaurant named after her.
The youngest of restaurateurs Kent and Tasi Rigsby's four children, her namesake is Zoe's Cafe on East Main Street in Bexley. The Rigsbys, who ran Rigsby's Kitchen in the Short North for more than 30 years as well as the now-closed Eleni-Christina Bakery -- which is named after their oldest daughter -- also own Tasi Cafe in the Short North.
Zoe's Cafe opened in 2014.
Tasi Rigsby spent six years as an instructor at Universal Gymnasts and returned to teaching this season as one of Palsgrove's assistants.
"I was just going to work one day a week and then I got to working every day," Tasi said. "She started this when she was not quite 7, and she has the chance to finish her career with Mel.
"What's great with high school gymnastics is you have the opportunity to be a teen and (have) the camaraderie and have teammates and support one another. Club is more cut-throat and intense, anywhere from four to six hours a day. Here, it's a few hours a day."
UA's most recent league championship came in 2004. The Bears were 6-0 in OCC-Central duals before a Feb. 7 meet at league rival Dublin Coffman that also included Central Crossing, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights and Grove City.
UA finished second (127.25) in last year's league meet, behind Marysville (128.85) and ahead of Davidson (124.125), Grove City (123.175), Central Crossing (114.125), Westland (111.825), Coffman (93.425) and Franklin Heights (25.775).
"(I just want them to) give their best and I will be happy with that, but they have to be happy with the outcome, also," Palsgrove said. "At the end of the day, if we don't win the league meet, we still have a chance to get to state. But this matters a lot to the girls." Zoe Rigsby plans to head west after graduation to attend the University of Colorado, where she will major in physiology. Her eventual goal is to be a physical therapist.
"My brothers live out there and I like the outdoors," she said. "I want to experience something different."
Feller helping lead girls team's defense
The girls basketball team has won games in which it scored anywhere between 40 and 73 points, but one constant has been a defense that allowed an average of 39 points through 19 games.
One constant within that constant, according to coach Chris Savage, has been the play of sophomore guard Valerie Feller.
"She plays big minutes and plays absolutely tenacious defense," Savage said. "She sets the tone in that way for the rest of her teammates. She works extremely hard and makes everybody else better. She doesn't care about stats. She knows she won't be the highest scorer on the team.
"I've probably known she had this in her since (she was in) sixth or seventh grade. She is a tough, hard-nosed kid. She's the type of person who will do whatever she can to win."
Feller had a total of 12 points through 20 games. Half of those came in a 73-19 win over Marysville on Jan. 5.
UA was 16-4 overall before playing Westerville South on Feb. 6 and is 7-2 in the OCC-Central entering its league and regular-season finale Friday, Feb. 9, at Marysville.
The Bears won two games last week, defeating Westerville Central 57-48 on Jan. 30 and Westland 76-13 on Feb. 2. Macy Spielman led the team offensively in both games, scoring 19 and 26 points, respectively, and had 989 career points before Feb. 6.
UA is seeded seventh of 50 teams in the Division I district tournament. The Bears will play host to 35th-seeded Grove City in the first round Feb. 17.
Boys basketball team on track for title
The boys basketball team controls its destiny for a third consecutive OCC-Central championship after edging host Coffman 44-41 on Feb. 3 in a showdown between the league's co-leaders.
Dane Goodwin capped a 19-point, 16-rebound performance with a 3-pointer as time expired to complete a comeback from a six-point deficit halfway through the fourth quarter.
UA trailed 39-33 with four minutes to play, but Goodwin hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 41 with 1 minute, 23 seconds left and the Bears drained most of the final minute before his winning shot.
"I was supposed to get the ball with around three seconds left and I got it a little early, so I had to check the clock and see what I had. I put up a prayer. Sometimes those fall," Goodwin said. "To get it done like that is special."
It was the latest memorable moment in the rivalry for the senior guard, a Notre Dame recruit who also became the program's all-time leading scorer in a win over the Shamrocks on Feb. 17, 2017.
"It was basketball savvy and basketball IQ on Dane's part to have that awareness," coach Tim Casey said.
"We had to keep grinding and keep working. Our guys kept battling and kept working and had some big defensive plays."
UA, which was ranked third in last week's Division I state poll, was 17-1 overall before playing Westerville South on Feb. 6 and is 8-0 in the OCC-Central, one game ahead of Coffman (7-1).
The Bears play host to Marysville on Friday, Feb. 9, in a league contest and will face Coffman in a rematch Feb. 16 at home to wrap up the regular season.
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 9 -- At Marysville. The Golden Bears defeated the Monarchs 75-36 on Jan. 5.
*Feb. 9 -- At Marysville. The Golden Bears defeated the Monarchs 73-19 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 10 -- OCC-Central meet at Hilliard Davidson
Feb. 8 -- Fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller in first round of Blue Jackets Cup at Chiller Easton. The Golden Bears are seeded fourth. Winner plays top-seeded Dublin Jerome or eighth-seeded Watterson in semifinal Feb. 9 at Chiller Easton. Semifinal winner advances to championship game Feb. 11 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division I sectional at home. Winner of each sectional event automatically qualifies for district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. There is no diving at sectional.
*Feb. 8 -- At Dublin Coffman
Feb. 10 -- All-North Invitational at Dublin Jerome