Upper Arlington gymnastics coach Brittany Maynard called winning a third consecutive OCC-Central Division championship something "that really hasn't been a spoken goal."
Having finished an undefeated season in the league by winning the OCC-Central meet Feb. 12 at Marysville, the Golden Bears plan to take the same approach at this weekend's district meet when it comes to earning their first state team berth since 2015.
"(A league championship) has been talked about, but it's been brushed under the rug," Maynard said. "My philosophy is we don't look at the end goal, we look at what's attainable. That's doing our best routines, and a title and a great score are icing on the cake."
Addy Pittenger's third-place finish in the all-around (33.2) led UA to a season-high 131.875 points at the league meet and first place ahead of the host Monarchs (130.3), Grove City (125.2), Hilliard Davidson (123.75), Central Crossing (117.25), Westland (107.375), Dublin Coffman (103.725) and Franklin Heights (103.275).
The Bears finished 14-0 with 32 points in the overall league standings, ahead of Marysville (28, 12-2), Grove City (24, 10-4), Central Crossing and Davidson (18, 7-7), Westland (12, 4-10), Coffman (8, 2-12) and Franklin Heights (4, 0-14). UA has not lost in league competition since the 2016-17 season.
Amelia Pearson placed second on balance beam (8.75) and Pittenger was third on uneven bars (8.3), tied teammate Tally Angelis for third on floor exercise (8.8) and tied teammate Taylor Shockley for fifth on vault (8.8).
"A lot of girls stepped up, especially in our bar routine, and that made me really proud," Shockley said. "We're getting much stronger all around. All of our girls put all their effort into floor because that's what we love to do the most."
Five Bears scored 8.0 or better on floor.
"This is probably the first meet of the season where we've had consistent (8.0 scores) on all four events that have counted toward the team score," Maynard said. "We've cleaned up our bar routines and tried to get rid of stops there. We focused on connections on beam we were struggling with and we cleaned up our vault and floor landings to save a tenth of a point here or there."
UA will try for its first state team meet appearance since 2015 when it participates in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 22, at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top three teams advance to state Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley and the top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to the state individual meet Feb. 29 at Bradley.
Boys team earns share of OCC title
Despite not returning any starters from last season, the boys basketball team surged at the right time to earn a share of the OCC-Central championship and carry momentum into the Division I district tournament.
Quinn Corna's 17 points and a career-high 16 points from Liam Keethler, nine of which came on 3-pointers, led UA to a 53-41 home win over Coffman on Feb. 14. The Bears outscored the Shamrocks 20-5 in the third quarter after trailing 26-19 at halftime to force a tie for first place with Coffman and Marysville, as all three teams went 8-2.
UA defeated Marysville 55-46 on Feb. 7 to remain in contention for the championship and won eight of its last nine regular-season games. The Bears, who are 14-8 overall, are seeded 19th of 49 teams in the district tournament and will visit 14th-seeded Canal Winchester in a first-round game Saturday, Feb. 22.
Canal Winchester was 14-7 before playing Zanesville on Feb. 18.
The winner will play host to 22nd-seeded Whitehall in the second round Feb. 28.
Hockey team wins first CBJ Cup
The hockey team achieved a program first Feb. 16, scoring two goals in a span of 1 minute, 25 seconds late in the second period to defeat second-seeded St. Charles 3-0 in the Blue Jackets Cup final at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Duncan MacDonald and Sam Burns scored in the final two minutes of the second period and Will Lawless added an empty net goal with 1:32 to go for top-seeded UA, which finished the regular season at 34-0-1.
The tie came against St. Charles, 3-all on Jan. 31 at the Ice Haus.
"We tried to get a little aggressive on the forecheck (Jan. 31) and it didn't work out too well, so we went back to our standard setup and had the guys try and execute a little more," coach Brett Howden said. "These kids keep going, they keep battling. That's all we can ask for. They want to win today and lose tomorrow and if you're always winning today, you'll never lose."
Goaltender Garrett Alderman made 21 saves to record his 12th shutout of the season.
UA defeated eighth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller 5-1 in the first round Feb. 13 and edged fifth-seeded Dublin Jerome 2-1 in a semifinal Feb. 15, both at the Ice Haus.
Seeded first in the 25-team district tournament, UA will play 22nd-seeded Dublin Scioto or 23rd-seeded Troy in a second-round game Saturday, Feb. 22, at Chiller North. The winner advances to a district quarterfinal Feb. 29.
Wrestlers fall in first state match
The wrestling team won two weight classes in its first Division I state team tournament match Feb. 16, falling to second-seeded Elyria 62-12 in a quarterfinal at St. John Arena.
Jake Badgeley pinned Gage Steffe in 2 minutes, 21 seconds at 220 pounds. At 145, Mason McHugh pinned Izzak Pedrazza in 3:51.
UA was competing for the first time in the tournament, which began in 2013.
The Bears were coming off a first-place finish (191) in the 15-team All-North Tournament the previous day at Jerome ahead of runner-up Hilliard Darby (166.5). Jesse Bowers (138), McHugh (145) and Jake Thomas (120) all finished first.
UA finished 4-1 in the OCC-Central with a 57-14 home win over Westland on Feb. 13.