About 150 yards from where sophomore Adrienne Wachtman practiced throwing the discus and shot put for the Upper Arlington High School girls track and field team on April 26, the Golden Bears' softball team was busy blasting four home runs in the first inning of a 22-0 rout of Westland.
Wachtman's older sisters, Annika and Elli, played softball for UA and now play basketball at Capital University, but Adrienne gave up the sport four years ago and decided to simultaneously forge her own path and take up a sport important to her family's history.
Now, she's too excited thinking about her future with the girls track and field team to reflect much on the past.
"Softball was a little too slow for me, not really my speed," Wachtman said. "I was looking for a sport in the spring and I happened to come into track. Throwing is a natural thing for me. I am not a huge fan of running, so I like to avoid that as much as possible."
Wachtman is seeking a second consecutive Division I regional berth in the discus and hopes to add both high jump and shot put accolades during the next month. She threw a personal-best 116 feet, 6 inches at last year's district meet to finish second and threw 107-11 at regional for a 10th-place finish, six spots shy of advancing to state.
Wachtman's season-best distance in the discus is 112-6 1/2, achieved during the Olentangy Invitational on April 27. She ranked sixth in last week's area honor roll in the high jump (5-3) and 10th in the shot put (35-6 3/4), one spot behind teammate Kaila Borgards (35-7 1/2), an exchange student from Germany.
"Adrienne has benefited from that competition with Kaila," said boys coach Bryan Ferres, who works with throwers on both teams. "I started to teach her the turn (earlier this year) for shot, but her distance dropped so we reverted her back to a stride and she's bounced back. She is more of a strider than a turner. If she hits that turn in discus, she will go over 125."
Wachtman said rigorous weight training helped her gain almost 30 pounds during her freshman year. She won the OCC-Central Division title in the discus and placed second in the shot put before her memorable postseason.
"What I did last year exceeded my expectations by a lot. I didn't think I was going to make it past district," she said. "I just stuck with it and tried to practice as much as possible. I can always thank my teammates and coaches for pushing me and critiquing me in everything I do."
Wachtman's maternal grandfather, George Troutman, has been Capital's record holder in the shot put (55-6 1/2) since 1958. Also that year, he set the Crusaders' discus record of 152-7 1/4 -- a mark that stood until 1978 -- and was taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the ninth round of the NFL Draft.
Wachtman followed her sisters' lead by playing basketball, coming off the bench as a center this past season. Last fall, she took up water polo and played goalkeeper as UA finished second in the state.
"The treading and swimming were hard to get used to," Wachtman said. "It definitely helped for all my sports. A lot of water polo is arms and shoulders with throwing and legs with treading, so it's a full-body workout there. (For) basketball, it helps with endurance."
UA hopes field events will continue to be a strength during its annual Larkin/Crosten Invitational on Friday, May 4. Rounding out the field are Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto, Granville, Hamilton Township, Hartley, Lancaster, Northland, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North, Reynoldsburg and Watterson.
Wachtman and distance runner Heidi Heuerman were the girls team's only regional qualifiers last year. UA has not had a girls athlete make state in a field event since 2005, when Olivia Both and Jessica Widmayer competed in the high jump.
Dana Denning won the state discus title in 1991 with a throw of 152-5.
"(Wachtman) always pushes to be the best. Last year, she was feeling things out, but this year, she is here to win," boys thrower John Castetter said. "Going into the regional, she started to get the vibe of 'Hey, I'm really good at this and I could win.' She wasn't here to play around. She has always had a great competitive spirit. She just wanted to get the process down. She is a born winner."
Boys tennis coach cautiously optimistic
The boys tennis team's only losses through nine matches were to St. Charles, the sixth-ranked team in Division I last week by OhioTennisZone.com, and Cincinnati Indian Hill, which was ranked first in Division II.
In between those two setbacks, UA beat Cincinnati St. Xavier, ranked third in Division I, 3-2 on April 25, but coach Will Thieman kept his expectations tempered for his own sixth-ranked team, which was 9-2 overall before playing Wellington on April 30 and is 4-0 in the OCC-Central.
"The (win over St. Xavier) was a good experience," Thieman said. "I'm still moving things around and trying to compete with our best lineup. We're close to playing our best tennis. Doubles have gotten better. We're making more shots and keeping our opponents on their toes."
UA lost to Indian Hill 3-2 on April 21 and St. Charles 3-2 on April 27, but Thieman said he did not field his usual lineup against the Cardinals because of the chance that the two teams might meet again in the near future.
The Bears will play host to Thomas Worthington on Friday, May 4, in the third round of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament. The winner will visit Dublin Jerome or St. Charles in a district semifinal on a date to be determined.
Josh Cole, who usually plays first singles, played first doubles with Will Reynolds against the Cardinals and the duo defeated Patrick O'Neil and Quyen Thai 6-3, 6-4. Elliot Jones and Paige Kompa, who have alternated between singles and doubles, shut out St. Charles' Will Prophater and Ben Wolfe 6-0, 6-0 at second doubles.
"Everybody is having fun and competing as hard as they can," Thieman said. "Pretty much everybody has played in a few spots during the season. You never know where you'll need somebody in the lineup."
Volleyball team gets to double-digit wins
Despite splitting its first two matches last week, the boys volleyball team reached the 10-win mark for the first time in nine years with six matches to go in the regular season.
UA was 10-4 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on May 1. The Bears rebounded from a 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 25-16 loss to Coffman on April 24 with a 25-12, 25-20, 24-26, 25-10 win over Reynoldsburg two nights later. They then lost to Pickerington North 12-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 on April 27.
UA already has its best record since going 10-11 in 2009.
The loss to North snapped a stretch of four wins in five matches for the Bears.
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington baseball, crew, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 4 -- At Dublin Coffman. The Golden Bears lost to the Shamrocks 4-3 on April 20 and won 6-5 in eight innings on April 26.
May 5 -- At Toronto with Cadiz Harrison Central
May 9 -- Home vs. 29th-seeded Whetstone or 30th-seeded Dublin Scioto in second round of Division I district tournament. The Golden Bears are seeded fifth.
May 5 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Moeller
May 4 -- At Cincinnati Summit Country Day
May 8 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
May 5 -- Home vs. DeSales
May 9 -- At 17th-seeded Scioto in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner visits 13th-seeded Olentangy in second round May 9. The Golden Bears are seeded 21st.
*May 3 -- Home vs. Marysville in makeup from April 17
May 4 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington in third round of Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament
May 8 -- At Olentangy in makeup from April 3
TRACK & FIELD
May 4 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at home
May 7 -- Home vs. DeSales
*May 8 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Golden Bears defeated the Tigers 23-25, 14-25, 27-25, 25-17, 15-5 on April 17.
May 9 -- At Olentangy Orange