Upper Arlington High School boys cross country coach Scott Meyers is not shy about sharing his high expectations for this season.

After the Golden Bears finished fourth in the Panther Division at the season-opening Panther Classic on Aug. 25 at Pickerington North, Meyers talked more about the team's long-term goals than the race that had just concluded.

"It was good to beat Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne (on Aug. 25). They were both in the (Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches) preseason poll, which means nothing, but we beat both of them," said Meyers, who is in his second season. "If I saw UA's name in the top 20, I'd be ecstatic. It probably hasn't happened since 2005 or 2006.

"The goal all along has been to be top five at regional and make the state meet. That's still the goal, and we've had some good showings so far."

Six of the top seven runners to end last year return for the boys team, which has not been to the Division I state meet since 2004, and all of the girls team's top seven runners are back.

In the Panther Classic, the boys scored 133 points to finish behind champion Gahanna (85) in the 17-team Panther Division. The girls were sixth (123) of 12 teams in the same division as Olentangy Orange won (70).

For the boys team, seniors Jack Amling, Thomas Richter, Cole Smith and Nathan Swords return, as does junior Daniel Owens.

Amling finished 13th at the Panther Classic (17 minutes, 2.46 seconds), followed by Richter (15th, 17:09.53), sophomore Charlie Nowinski (27th, 17:29.1), Owens (34th, 17:34.03) and Swords (44th, 17:46.3).

Senior Heidi Heuerman leads a deep group of girls returnees that also includes classmates Elizabeth Clingan and Eileen Dunn, juniors Lindsey Rush and Emma Switzer and sophomores Elizabeth Lembach and Sofia Sivilotti. Heuerman finished 31st at state last year and 60th as a sophomore.

The girls team was sixth at regional, one spot shy of advancing to state.

Scoring for the girls Aug. 25 were Heuerman (third, 19:03.17), Dunn (21st, 20:51.51), Lembach (22nd, 20:58.44), Clingan (38th, 21:29.57) and Sivilotti (39th, 21:30.34).

The girls' first win of the season came Sept. 1 in the Westerville North Classic, where Heuerman finished first (19:15.61) and UA scored 57 points to win the 11-team race ahead of runner-up Teays Valley (79).

"I am seeing their confidence and leadership on the course. When we are getting prepped for races, I really see (the leadership)," sixth-year girls coach Latisha Wilder said. "The physical part is challenging for everybody, but I think mentally is where I am seeing the most growth from them. I want to see how that will impact the rest of the team."

Both coaches expect to see some jockeying for position, especially lower in the lineup.

"Five through eight will be a battle all season, which is good," Meyers said. "All we changed from last year was bumping up mileage. We run a lot. You can't run too many miles in coach Meyers' program.

"My seniors are here to work and that has definitely rubbed off on the rest of the team. That bodes well for the future. If the underclassmen want to be good, they know they have to work."

The boys team finished third (68) in last year's OCC-Central Division meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (24). The girls were second (53) to Davidson (22).

Other boys runners include juniors Andrew DeVoe, Liam Gillespie and Will Reynolds and sophomore Payton Domagalski. Other girls contributors are expected to include sophomore twins Danika and Natasha Ratnapradipa and freshmen Eleni Kourlas.

The Ratnapradipa sisters are move-ins from Huntsville, Texas.

"We have work to do. It's early in the season and all we can do is press towards where we need to be," Wilder said. "With the freshman girls, the more they run and the more they get used to that extra mile, they will be fine. But our top seven will just get stronger as the season progresses."

Field hockey team striving for more

In her third season as field hockey coach, Sara Greaves sees a new level of commitment and skill from her players.

That is nothing against her previous two teams, both of which won nine games, but Greaves noticed some key differences early.

"We have more girls playing in the offseason and those girls have developed a lot more technical skill," Greaves said. "We've also been able to do more complex drills because the girls have a better game sense than we've traditionally had. For the first time in recent history, we have a number of girls interested in playing in college, so I think that's bringing a new level of intensity, focus, commitment and energy to the team."

Eight players return for UA, which was 2-2 overall before playing New Albany on Sept. 5 and is 0-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division entering a Monday, Sept. 10, game at Olentangy.

Returnees are seniors Abby Dietrich (forward/defender), Grace Golembiewski (midfielder/defender), Chloe Ruscilli (defender), Faith Seely (goalkeeper) and Hannah Sharp (midfielder), juniors Sophie Croci (forward/midfielder) and Olivia Wang (defender) and sophomore Elizabeth Cramer (forward/midfielder).

UA opened with a 7-0 home loss to Columbus Academy on Aug. 23, but rebounded to defeat hosts Gates Mills Hawken and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown by 2-0 scores on Aug. 25 and lost to Liberty 4-1 in its league opener Aug. 29.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Addy Baldwin (forward) and Chloe Dolbow (forward), junior Sophia Del Tosto (midfielder/defender) and sophomores Paris Alexander (forward/midfielder), Lucy DeVita (defender), Claire Kramer (forward), Louise Mitchell (midfielder/defender) and Katie Webber (forward).

Last season, UA went 9-6-3 overall and 5-2-1 in the COFHL-West to finish third behind champion Thomas Worthington (7-0). The Bears lost to Academy 3-0 in a district semifinal.

"The biggest team goal is that the girls want to make it to the third round of the tournament," Greaves said. "I think we can do it. This is certainly the strongest team I've seen in my three seasons at UA."

Boys golf team nearing OCC title

The boys golf team has all but clinched the OCC-Central championship entering the fourth and final round of the league tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Darby Creek.

UA is 15-0 in the league, ahead of Dublin Coffman (11-4), Davidson (10-5), Marysville (6-9), Central Crossing (2-13) and Westland (1-14).

Led by Quinn Patterson's round of 77, UA shot a 313 in the third round Aug. 29 at Apple Valley to finish ahead of Coffman (322), Davidson (329), Marysville (343), Central Crossing (414) and Westland (492).

Also scoring for the Bears were Jud Turner (78), Matt Cramer (79) and Joe Mollica (79).

The girls golf team is in second place in the OCC-Central as they prepare for the final round of their league tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Westchester. UA is 11-4, behind New Albany (15-0) and ahead of Coffman (10-5), Davidson (6-9), Marysville (2-13) and Canal Winchester (1-14).

The Bears shot a 329 in the third round Aug. 29 at Mentel Memorial to place third behind the Eagles (292) and Shamrocks (322) and ahead of Davidson (358), Marysville (386) and Canal Winchester (397).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 25 -- Panther Classic at Pickerington North

Sept. 1 -- Boys: Asics Hot Summer Bash at Hilliard Davidson; Girls: Westerville North Classic

Sept. 8 -- Girls: McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 15 -- Friendship Invitational at Cedarville

Sept. 22 -- Boys: Saturday Night Lights at Centerville; Girls: Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster

Sept. 29 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 6 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington

Oct. 13 -- OCC-Central meet at Hilliard Davidson

FIELD HOCKEY

Aug. 23 -- vs. Columbus Academy

Aug. 25 -- at Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown with Gates Mills Hawken

*Aug. 29 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 5 -- vs. New Albany

*Sept. 10 -- at Olentangy

*Sept. 12 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

Sept. 17 -- vs. Watterson

Sept. 19 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 24 -- at Olentangy Orange

*Sept. 26 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

*Oct. 1 -- at Olentangy Berlin

*Oct. 3 -- at Thomas Worthington

Oct. 6 -- at Cincinnati Ursuline Academy

Oct. 6 -- at Cincinnati St. Ursula

*Oct. 10 -- at 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, boys water polo and girls water polo teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 10 -- Gdovin Memorial Invitational at Zanesville Country Club

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 8 -- Eagle-Panther Invitational at Cooks Creek

Sept. 10 -- Olentangy Liberty at Raymond Memorial

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Westchester

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 6 -- At Hilliard Bradley

Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin

Sept. 8 -- At Olentangy

Sept. 11 -- At DeSales

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 6 -- At Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 11 -- At Big Walnut

BOYS WATER POLO

Sept. 8-9 -- Ohio Cup at Thomas Worthington

Sept. 12 -- Home vs. St. Charles

GIRLS WATER POLO

Sept. 8-9 -- Cincinnati Sycamore Invitational

*League contest