The Worthington Kilbourne High School boys lacrosse team was not fazed by its return to the Division I postseason this year after spending the previous two seasons in Division II, where it won the state championship in 2016.
The second-seeded Wolves also weren't in awe of top-seeded Upper Arlington's tradition when the teams met in the Division I, Region 3 final May 25 at Fortress Obetz.
Even after falling behind 3-0 midway through the first quarter, the Wolves maintained their poise and confidence. They tied the score at 3 in the first quarter and then scored four of the game's final five goals to post an 8-7 victory.
"We have a good tradition, too, but traditions don't always win," senior attacker Nick Clay said. "We're not in awe of any team. We know if we play the way we're capable of playing, we can beat anybody."
It was the 14th regional championship for the Wolves, who improved to 17-5 and played Cincinnati St. Xavier in a state semifinal May 30 at Dayton Chaminade Julienne. The Bombers were 17-3 entering the contest.
The winner plays Dublin Coffman (21-1) or Cleveland St. Ignatius (15-7) in the state final at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Ohio Wesleyan.
"I'm sure everyone expected Arlington to be in the state tournament because that's usually the case," said coach Mike Lippert, whose team defeated third-seeded New Albany 7-3 in a regional semifinal May 22. "I believe the last time (UA) didn't make it to state was 2011 when we were state runners-up. In 2009, we beat them in the state championship and Christian Sorenson scored the go-ahead goal. That's another interesting storyline because that's Will Alban's brother."
Alban scored what proved to be the winning goal against UA in the regional final with 4 minutes, 27 seconds remaining. The Wolves then fended off the Golden Bears in the game's waning minutes to secure the win.
"This is incredible. We've wanted this opportunity all season and we got it and now we're going to state," said Alban, a sophomore attacker. "It was a perfect ground ball by Ryan Wesolowski and a great take up the field and a great look by Carson Kott that got me open for the shot. It was a team effort.
"I've been looking forward to this and dreaming about this ever since I saw my brother win the state championship in 2009 by beating (UA). This is exactly what I wanted to do. My brother did both (win state and beat UA) in the same game, but this gets us closer (to a state title) and gives us a chance."
Kilbourne, which lost to UA 6-5 in the regular season April 14, trailed 5-4 at halftime and fell behind 6-4 in the third quarter before a goal by Sam Biglin made it 6-5 entering the fourth quarter.
Carson Kott tied the score off an assist from Jake LeVette and Biglin scored off an assist from Clay to give the Wolves a 7-6 lead with 7:01 left. The Bears then tied the score with 6:13 remaining.
Kott, Wesolowski and Biglin each scored two goals for the Wolves.
"I am so proud of our guys, especially our seniors," Lippert said. "We've got 10 or 11 seniors who contribute and they get to play in the state tournament in their last season. Their hard work has paid off and they are getting rewarded."
Kilbourne has yet to play Coffman or St. Ignatius this season, but it did scrimmage the Shamrocks during the preseason.
"We played Coffman last year and scrimmaged them early this year and they are pretty talented," Lippert said. "They like to run and transition with their athleticism, as does St. Xavier. We don't know much about St. Ignatius."
Young reaches state for boys track team
Elijah Young will represent the boys track and field team in the Division I state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
The junior placed fourth in the long jump (21 feet, 4 inches) in the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North after coach Josh Stegman won an appeal.
"Elijah was fourth going into the last round of jumps in the finals and (Hilliard Bradley's Daevon Anderson) was seventh," Stegman said. "In (Anderson's) last jump, he went before the officials announced him and before they were ready. They originally called a foul, but then they met and decided to give (Anderson) an extra jump. In that extra jump, he went 21-10 1/2 to move into second place and bump Eli from fourth.
"When Eli didn't improve his mark on his last jump, we appealed the ruling, citing (Anderson) ignored the official when he jumped because they weren't ready. Therefore, it's a foul and he should not be awarded an extra jump. Our appeal was upheld and Eli gets to go to state."
The top four finishers in each regional event qualified for state, while two at-large berths also were awarded in each running event based on regional times statewide.
"Eli fouled three times and one of them was his furthest jump," Stegman said. "So we know he's right there and we're hoping he sets the school record."
Also competing at regional for the boys team was Jack Begley, who finished eighth in the 3,200 meters in a season-best 9:41.
"Jack is three seconds off the school record and the (3,200) was a very fast race," Stegman said. "He's got another year to come back and get that."
The Wolves scored six points to tie for 26th behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
Competing at regional for the girls team were Chidima Anaraodo in the discus (11th, 104-1) and Sasha Bomser in the 1,600 (12th, 5:32.8).
The Wolves did not score at regional.
"Chidima's last throw was way out there, but it hit the sector line and was ruled out," Stegman said. "She was pretty upset, but she has two more years and she can take solace in that she's ahead of where her sister (2017 graduate and state-placer Ndidiamaka Ana-raodo) was as a sophomore."
Girls lacrosse team ousted by Vikings
The third-seeded girls lacrosse team lost at second-seeded Columbus Academy 17-10 in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal May 22 to finish 13-8 overall.
Kilbourne had defeated 15th-seeded Dayton Miami Valley 20-1 in the first round May 17 and 16th-seeded Hartley 17-7 in a regional quarterfinal May 19.
The Wolves struggled to keep pace with the Vikings, who had edged host Kilbourne 14-13 in overtime late in the regular season May 8. Jackie Wolford and Morgan Miller both scored three goals in the regional semifinal.
Kilbourne finished 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place third, behind Dublin Jerome (6-0) and Thomas (5-1) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (3-3), Hilliard Darby (2-4), Bradley (1-5) and Delaware (0-6).
Kilbourne, which finished 10-11 last season, is losing seven seniors, including five starters in Miller (attacker), Kennedy Dauphin (defender), Christina DiMauro (attacker), Morgan Schutte (attacker) and Abby Smullen (attacker).
Among the expected return-ees are juniors Gracie Burford (goalkeeper), Bridget Maloney (defender) and Reilly St. Myer (defender), sophomores Lindsey Buterbaugh (defender), Lilli Hadden (attacker) and Wolford (attacker) and freshmen Ella Bally (defender) and Nicole Miller (midfielder).
Hadden, Schutte, St. Myer and Wolford all were named first-team all-league. Bally was second-team all-league and DiMauro made honorable mention.
Volleyball team had turnaround season
A strong season for the boys volleyball team ended May 22, when the second-seeded Wolves lost to third-seeded Watterson 17-25, 26-24, 25-17, 25-21 in a Division II East Region semifinal to finish 17-9 overall.
Kilbourne, which finished 11-14 last season, had opened the postseason by defeating sixth-seeded Licking Heights 25-10, 25-10, 25-15 in a regional quarterfinal May 19.
The Wolves went 8-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to place third, behind Darby (12-0) and Jerome (10-2) and ahead of Bradley and Thomas (both 5-7), Scioto (3-9) and Delaware (0-12).
Kilbourne is losing four seniors, including two starters in Lucas Hershberger (outside hitter) and Levi Smith (setter/opposite hitter).
Among the expected return-ees are juniors Evan Fisher (opposite hitter), Liam Pierce (outside hitter) and Jimmy Sauder (outside hitter) and sophomores Joe Dargenio (middle hitter) and Ethan Nestingen (setter).