When Skylar Wahlund looks back on the final act of his high school lacrosse career, he won't necessarily think of the first-place trophy he helped his team win.
"The big part I'll remember is the huddles we did," Wahlund, an Olentangy Liberty graduate heading to Ohio State, said of participating in the Vail Shootout in Vail, Colorado, in late June with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes team. "We put God, our relationships and beliefs in front of lacrosse. After games, we'd split into two groups and talk about religion. Our coaches would give us a Bible verse and we'd go over real-life scenarios and how we would handle them.
"That was really the best part about competing for FCA, but it was pretty nice to win, too."
Wahlund, a goalkeeper, was one of three area athletes on the FCA U19 team that went 5-0, defeating Laxachusetts 14-9 in the championship game June 27. Defender Jack DeSantis, a Maryland recruit from DeSales, and midfielder Johnny Wiseman, a Liberty graduate and Ohio State recruit, also were on the roster.
Wiseman scored four goals in the final.
"This was a unique group, a special group," coach Drew Wardlow said. "One of my assistant coaches, Kacy Kapinos, played at Ohio State and after our first practice, he told me: 'We're winning the whole thing.' It was just the way the guys conducted themselves on and off the field. They all accepted their roles. These are guys who were used to being the (key) guys on their high school teams, and here they were adjusting to different roles, whatever we needed them to do. They put it all together."
FCA cruised through pool play, defeating the Minnesota Chill 13-1 and Team Colorado 10-5 on June 24 and the Florida Kings 18-5 on June 25, and beat Team Colorado 15-6 in a semifinal June 26.
"The team we had was phenomenal," DeSantis said. "All of us but one guy are going to play Division I college lacrosse. We were pretty confident and we played really well."
DeSantis also played with FCA as a sophomore at a tournament in Lake Placid, New York, and planned to do so as a junior but sat out the summer because of a stress fracture in his right tibia. He immensely enjoyed both experiences, so much so that he hopes to intern with the organization during college while majoring in business and sales.
"Being on this team opened my eyes to so much more," he said. "It changed how I approached my life. Whenever I could at school, whenever I'd have some time, I'd go into our chapel and pray. It relieved a lot of stress."
A third Ohio State recruit, defender George Walsh of Baltimore, Maryland, also was on the team.
DeSantis met a future Maryland teammate, Will Plansky, during the tournament. Plansky, a defender from St. Sebastian's School in Needham, Massachusetts, played for Laxachusetts.
Plansky had been committed to Virginia until last summer.
The team took advantage of its time in Vail, touring the area about 100 miles west of Denver as well as playing paintball one day during its stay.
"Ohio isn't necessarily thought of as a lacrosse hotbed but the guys' tough mentality stood out," Wardlow said. "Johnny had a huge game in the final. Skylar had one of his top games in the final, and Jack was a great cog in the wheel of a pretty good defense. They were all extremely valuable."