Isaac Perry of the Upper Arlington High School boys track and field team saw how year-round work paid off for teammate Max Czerwonka when it came to the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, so he decided to take up indoor competition himself.
Not only did both of them advance to the Division I state indoor meet, but they have continued pushing each other to the point that hurdles has become a strength for the Golden Bears as they enter the final month of the season.
Czerwonka and Perry are ranked ninth (14.98 seconds) and 15th (15.24), respectively, in the area this week in the 110 hurdles. Both also have hung in the 42-second range for most of the season in the 300 hurdles, but Perry shattered his previous best of 41.82 by winning the Olentangy Invitational on April 26 in 40.66.
Czerwonka ran a wind-aided but personal-best 14.98 in the 110 hurdles during a tri-meet April 23 at Hilliard Davidson. At the Olentangy Invitational, Czerwonka and Perry came in first (15.24) and second (15.35), respectively, in that event -- the same finishes they recorded in last year's OCC-Central Division meet.
"We're hungry (for success) and we do help and challenge each other," said Czerwonka, a senior. "When one of us beats the other one, the other guy wants to win the next time out and we work that much harder because of that. We thought (hurdles) could be a strength in this program and with me and Isaac, we almost always place and help the team get points. That's important to us."
In the indoor state meet, Czerwonka finished 17th in the 60 hurdles (8.44) and Perry, a junior, was 20th (8.51).
"This was my first year doing indoor and Max has done it for a few years. We were both happy to get to state," Perry said. "For me, it was mostly about committing more to track. It's a great community to be a part of and it was important to me to achieve some goals."
Hurdles also has been a strength for the girls team, thanks in large part to junior Sonia Mustric. Although she splits time between relays and sprints, Mustric considers hurdles her preferred event after taking up the event last season.
Mustric placed second in the 300 hurdles (50.02) at the Olentangy Invitational, 3.03 seconds off her personal-best time. Her best time in the 100 hurdles is 16.77, which she set in the Joe Lenge Dublin Classic on April 13 at Dublin Coffman.
"I was afraid I wasn't tall enough to get over the hurdles and then I saw the other girls doing it and figured I could, too," Mustric said. "Freshman year (at Thomas Worthington), I was very versatile. I told my coaches to just put me in whatever race they wanted. I wanted to help my team however I could. Sophomore year is when you narrow things down. The coaches believe in me and my hurdling abilities and I've been able to do more with their help."
Bears hurdles coach Phil Wright downplayed his own contributions, saying he saw this season's success from his hurdlers coming for a long time.
"I saw this from them last year," Wright said. "Max and Isaac have improved a lot more than I expected. They put in a lot more work in the offseason. It's all upside for those guys. Sonia doesn't do the same amount of work as they do, but she'll get better."
UA's final tune-up for the OCC-Central meet will be its annual Larkin/Crosten Invitational on Friday, May 3. The 12-team meet will be held at Thomas because of construction at UA.
Rounding out the field will be Coffman, DeSales, Dublin Scioto, Granville, Hartley, Lancaster, Northland, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North's girls, Reynoldsburg, St. Charles and Watterson.
The OCC-Central meet will be held May 9 and 11 at Davidson.
Girls lacrosse team back in form
The girls lacrosse team began its season by having a 42-game winning streak snapped at the hands of Division II power DeSales, 8-5 on March 21, but quickly regained form by tying one of the top teams in the Midwest and again dominating local competition.
The Bears were 11-2-1 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central before playing Coffman on April 30 and were ranked third in the state as of April 27 by LaxNumbers.com.
UA beat top-ranked New Albany 11-8 on April 20 in a rematch of last year's Division I state championship game. DeSales was ranked second in the state as of April 27.
"The year started with a lot of questions, but we've had a few key wins that have made us realize we're still a state contender," coach Wendy Pinta said. "We've had some gritty wins and a work ethic that's helped us make up for some areas where we might be a little weak. We've really gotten better on our ride and causing turnovers. We have to be strong at those things. Tons of communication and good off-the-ball work have made that happen."
UA outscored its first five league opponents 91-10, including wins last week over Davidson (17-2 on April 24) and Gahanna (18-3 on April 25).
Among their out-of-state games, the Bears tied Winnetka New Trier, the top-ranked team in Illinois, at 8 on April 6 and fell to the second-ranked team in that state, Wilmette Loyola Academy, 10-5 on April 27 in the Memories Matter Laurel School and Cleveland Heights Invitational.
Sophie Ballou had a team-leading 47 goals through 14 games, and according to Pinta, the Bears had won 147 of 190 draws through 12 games. Clara Gallapoo and Ellena Schildmeyer have taken the majority of draws.
"We've had a strong draw control. It's been really dominating," Pinta said. "That was somewhere where we were really questioning how it would go with having some inexperience there."
Boys tennis team wins league again
The boys tennis team's 4-1 win at Coffman on April 23 allowed the Bears to clinch the OCC-Central championship, their 37th league title in a row, and kept them alive in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament.
UA won every court except first singles against the Shamrocks, including a 6-7, 7-5, 7-5 win at first doubles by Emerson Dean and Joey Holland over Coffman's Anton Bakunin and Cobie Frank, to finish 4-0 in the OCC-Central.
That was the Bears' only match last week. They were 11-6 overall after a 3-2 loss to Wellington on April 29 and are scheduled to play host to Dublin Jerome on Thursday, May 2, in an OTCA district semifinal.
The winner advances to the district final on a date to be determined.
New Albany was ranked first in the state last week by OhioTennisZone.com. UA was ranked ninth and Jerome was sixth.
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 3 -- At Hilliard Davidson. The Golden Bears defeated the Wildcats 12-10 on April 10 and 7-1 on April 12.
May 4 -- Watterson at Ohio State
*May 6 -- Westland at Fred Beekman Park. The Golden Bears defeated the Cougars 14-0 on April 15 and 8-0 on April 17.
May 7 -- At Thomas Worthington
*May 8 -- At Marysville. The Golden Bears defeated the Monarchs 12-4 on April 22 and 1-0 in 10 innings on April 24.
May 4 -- Indianapolis Junior Sprints and Sculling Championships at Eagle Creek Park
May 4 -- Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice at Wellington
May 3 -- At Cincinnati Sycamore
May 7 -- At Dublin Jerome
May 2 -- At Watterson in makeup from April 26
May 3 -- Dublin Scioto at Tremont Elementary
May 8 -- 17th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 22nd-seeded New Albany at Tremont Elementary in second round of Division I district tournament. The Golden Bears are seeded 13th of 45 teams.
May 2 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome in Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district semifinal
May 4 -- New Albany Eagle Cup
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Thomas Worthington
*May 2 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson. The Golden Bears lost to the Comets 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 on April 11.
May 3 -- Home vs. Watterson
May 6 -- At DeSales
*May 7 -- At Pickerington Central. The Golden Bears lost to the Tigers 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-18 on April 16.
May 8 -- At St. Charles