Mark Trifelos likes having to catch his breath after Upper Arlington High School wrestling practices, and that's exactly what Golden Bears coach Matt Stout wants to see.
A senior who wrestles at 152 and 160 pounds and one of six returning Division I district qualifiers, Trifelos embraces the faster, more exhausting practices Stout has implemented this season as UA tries to contend for the OCC-Central Division championship and advance at least one individual to state for the first time since 2013.
"We (have a) much faster tempo on drilling. A lot of people like to mess around during drills and see it as the easy part of practice, so we picked up the tempo," Trifelos said. "With conditioning, we're doing more after practice and we do certain things on certain days. We'll do sprints, then a regimen of pull-ups and frog jumps or something to make it extra hard. We've never done that before.
"Everyone hates it during it, but then afterwards, they realize they've put in some hard work and they feel good. I'm all about working hard. That's what makes you separate yourself in the room."
Trifelos and sophomore Jesse Bowers (126) shared the most wins among returning wrestlers from a year ago, as Bowers went 28-14 and Trifelos was 28-18. Bowers fell a win short of advancing to state.
The Bears opened Dec. 2 by finishing second (237 points) in their 12-team home event, the Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational, behind Vandalia Butler (267). Trifelos and junior Holden Freeman won the 160 and 195 titles, respectively.
Even so, the Bears do not look like the team Stout envisioned. Seniors Teddy Hill, Dante Landolfi, Henry Ledman, Seth Morley and Garegin Soghomonyan, all of whom were district qualifiers last year, left the team during the preseason.
Landolfi had a team-best 36-6 record last season.
UA went 15-5 in duals last season, their most dual wins since having 16 in 1981-82. The Bears went 3-2 in the OCC-Central, placing third behind Dublin Coffman (5-0) and Marysville (4-1).
"Some younger kids will have to wrestle, kids who we otherwise wanted to have get some experience at the (junior varsity) level. We have to throw them into the fire now," said Stout, who is in his seventh season. "We're happy with the kids we have ... but we've had to readjust our goals for this year. With the team we have now, we are young and building."
UA's other returning district qualifiers are juniors Mitch Herren (113), Joey Orlando (126/132) and Gavin Shafer (145) and sophomore Daniel Beam (106).
Herren was 14-2 last season before breaking the femur in his left leg during a practice in early January.
"My freshman year, I weighed about 100 pounds. I could wrestle, but I couldn't compete with the bigger dogs, the top guys, because I was too small," Herren said. "I thought I had a great shot to get to state last year. I want to make up for that, for sure."
According to Stout, other expected contributors are junior Sebastian Chambers (160), sophomores David Adams (220), Mason McHugh (132/138), Miles Pearson (138) and David Soghomonyan (182) and freshmen Ian McCormick (170) and Jacob Shanklin (120).
Beam, Bowers, Herren, Pearson, Shafer, Shanklin and David Soghomonyan all finished second in their respective weight classes at the Lee Spitzer invitational.
Senior Jack Stephens was expected to wrestle at heavyweight but was injured in football and will miss the entire season.
"We're really thin in the upper weights," Stout said. "We expect our underclassmen to contribute significantly."
New gymnastics coach named
Melanie Palsgrove has been named gymnastics coach, the fifth person to hold that position in as many years.
According to athletics director Tony Pusateri, Palsgrove has coached gymnastics for 30 years, including 10 at Universal Gymnasts in Hilliard. She also served as team director at that facility for seven years.
Palsgrove replaces Erin May, a second-grade teacher at Tremont Elementary School who stepped down to devote more time to a personal business making handmade items to be sold at festivals.
UA opened its season Dec. 5 with a home tri-meet against Washington Court House Miami Trace and Worthington Kilbourne.
"(Palsgrove) has worked with a lot of coaches from around the area and a lot of our kids as well," Pusateri said.
"The kids seem to like and respect her."
UA also is seeking a girls golf coach. Steve Gdovin, who coached the boys golf team in 2015 and 2016, led the girls team on an interim basis this fall after 11-year coach Kristi Ghidotti resigned during the season. Gdovin said at the time of his hiring that he was unsure whether he would return next year on a full-time basis.
Gdovin had stepped down as boys coach to spend more time with his family.
Applicants should send a resume to Pusateri at email@example.com.
Dec. 2 -- Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at home
Dec. 6 -- at Olentangy Orange
Dec. 7 -- at Big Walnut
Dec. 16 -- Firebird Classic at Kettering Fairmont
Dec. 27-28 -- Medina Invitational Tournament
*Jan. 11 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Jan. 18 -- at *Central Crossing with Gahanna and Logan
Jan. 20 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Marysville
Jan. 27 -- vs. Steubenville and Toledo St. John's
*Feb. 8 -- at Dublin Coffman
Feb. 10 -- All-North Invitational at Dublin Jerome
*Feb. 15 -- vs. Westland
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington girls basketball, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 8 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
Dec. 9 -- Home vs. Northland
Dec. 12 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*Dec. 8 -- Dublin Coffman at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Dec. 9 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Northland Ice Center
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 8 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Dec. 9 -- Home vs. New Albany