The Upper Arlington girls cross country team will have a new leader this year, and seventh-year coach Latisha Wilder is excited to see who she will be.

Junior Sofia Sivilotti was the Golden Bears' top runner in the season-opening Pickerington Classic on Aug. 24 at Pickerington North, finishing 30th (21 minutes, 16.5 seconds) in the 12-team Panther Division race and leading the Golden Bears to 233 points and 11th place behind champion Thomas Worthington (83). But Wilder would not be surprised if other runners take turns leading the team after the graduation of four-time Division I state qualifier Heidi Heuerman.

"Every season has its challenges and this will be no different. We'll push through," Wilder said. "We have a lot of potential moving forward, but right now, we are pretty young. It's a different situation. We graduated four girls and they were a big chunk of this team. They were so consistent."

Also scoring in the Pickerington Classic were junior Elizabeth Lembach (43rd, 21:34), senior Emma Switzer (47th, 21:42.3) and sophomores Megan Kiehl (53rd, 21:47.3) and Eleni Kourlas (68th, 22:20.7).

"That was a good indication of where we are as a team," Wilder said. "We're having some finishes closer together. They know how important finishing close together is."

Heuerman placed 14th at state last year. She finished 31st as a junior, 60th as a sophomore and 50th as a freshman in 2015, the last time UA made state as a team.

Heuerman now runs at Wisconsin with her older sister, 2016 UA graduate Ann Heuerman.

Other runners expected to vie for spots in the top seven include senior Lindsey Rush, juniors Clara Gallapoo, Paige Stevenson and Hannah Timbrook, sophomore Haley Martin and freshman Jenna Drobny.

The boys team also lost its only state qualifier from a year ago in 2019 graduate Thomas Richter, who finished 52nd.

He was UA's first state competitor since Brendan Long in 2009.

Junior Charlie Nowinski finished 17th (16:57.8) in the Pickerington Classic to lead UA to fourth place (162) in the 18-team Panther Division behind the host Panthers (59), who were ranked fourth in Division I in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches' preseason poll.

Sophomore Nathan Mark was 24th (17:14.7), followed by junior Payton Domagalski (33rd, 17:24.9), senior Liam Gillespie (41st, 17:36.4) and sophomore Alex Nicol (47th, 17:50.4).

"We're super young," third-year coach Scott Meyers said. "I thought we'd take a step back this year (losing five of his top 10 runners), but we haven't."

Also competing for varsity spots are juniors Brendan Backiewicz, Jamie Nichols and Michael Wulf and sophomores Ryan Card and Donald Speas.

Last season, the boys placed second (46) in the OCC-Central Division meet behind Hilliard Davidson (23) before finishing third at district and seventh at regional. The girls were third in the league (76) behind champion Davidson (20), third at district and ninth at regional.

"We don't really talk about goals. We just set a culture that you work your tail off," Meyers said.

"There's nothing difficult about running. It's whoever does the most work. There is a natural talent, of course, but if you are a hard worker ... you can drop four minutes in a year. There is no magic trick."

Croci helping to lead field hockey team

Senior forward/midfielder Sophie Croci had five of the field hockey team's 13 goals through four games, as UA was 2-2 overall before playing defending state champion Columbus Academy on Sept. 3 and is 1-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division entering a Monday, Sept. 9, game at Dublin Coffman.

Croci is one of several returnees for the field hockey team, a group that also includes seniors Sophia Del Tosto (midfielder) and Olivia Wang (defender) and juniors Paris Alexander (forward/midfielder), Elizabeth Cramer (defender) and Katie Webber (forward).

Last season, the Bears went 10-7-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the league, tying Olentangy Orange for third behind champion Thomas Worthington (8-0).

"We're really high energy," fourth-year coach Sara Greaves said. "When we get rolling, especially in games we've won, that's been very nice. Even if we're behind, we've been able to regroup pretty quickly."

Alexander and freshman midfielder Emily Barker each had three goals through four games.

UA opened Aug. 19 with a 4-0 league win at Dublin Jerome. The Bears then lost to host Olentangy Liberty 5-1 on Aug. 21 and fell to visiting Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 3-2 on Aug. 24 before a 6-0 home win over Olentangy Berlin on Aug. 28.

Rounding out the roster are juniors Lucy DeVita (defender/midfielder), Louise Mitchell (forward/midfielder) and Emily Toohey (forward), sophomores Caroline Campbell (defender), Kara Depore (forward/midfielder), Mia Hargraves (defender), Jillian Kuehn (defender/midfielder), Caroline Langmeyer (goalkeeper) and Paige Merryman (forward/midfielder) and freshman Clara Reynolds (midfielder/forward).

Boys golfers nearing OCC title

Despite not winning the third round of the OCC-Central tournament Aug. 28 at Apple Valley, the boys golf team still sits atop the league standings entering the fourth and final round Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Darby Creek.

Led by Jud Turner's round of 76, UA shot a 325 at Apple Valley to come in second behind Coffman (321) and ahead of Davidson (346), Marysville (350), Central Crossing (418) and Westland (463). The Bears are 14-1 in the league, ahead of Coffman (13-2), Davidson (9-6), Marysville (6-9), Central Crossing (3-12) and Westland (0-15).

The girls team was firmly in second place in the OCC-Central entering the fourth and final round of its league tournament Sept. 4 at Blacklick Woods.

UA was 12-3 in the league, behind New Albany (15-0) and ahead of Coffman (9-6), Marysville (6-9), Davidson (2-13) and Canal Winchester (1-14).

In the third round Aug. 28 at Mentel Memorial, Emily Hummer shot a 73 to lead the Bears to a team score of 319 and second place behind the Eagles (294) and ahead of Coffman (328), Marysville (381), Davidson (398) and Canal Winchester (419).

Also scoring were Lizzie Murray (81), Julia Rabadam (81) and Reagan Nolan (84).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and boys water polo teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 7 -- Girls: Mason Invitational

FIELD HOCKEY

*Sept. 9 -- At Dublin Coffman

*Sept. 11 -- At Olentangy

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 7 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 9 -- Gdovin Memorial Invitational at Zanesville Country Club

Sept. 11 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 7 -- Eagle-Panther Invitational at Cooks Creek

Sept. 8 -- Mason Invitational at Golf Center at Kings Island

Sept. 9 -- Kettering Alter Invitational at NCR Country Club

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 7 -- At Beavercreek

*Sept. 10 -- At Central Crossing

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 7 -- At Beavercreek

*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Central Crossing

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 5 -- At Dublin Coffman

Sept. 10 -- At New Albany

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 7 -- At Dublin Scioto with Mount Vernon and Teays Valley

*Sept. 10 -- At Westland

BOYS WATER POLO

Sept. 7-8 -- Ohio Cup at Thomas Worthington

*League contest