After a regular season in which it won three tournaments, placed second in the OCC-Central Division and reached its first Division I state team tournament, the Upper Arlington wrestling team will begin the postseason with a Division I sectional at home Saturday, Feb. 29.
The Golden Bears are seeded fourth of 47 teams in the district, behind Dublin Coffman, Lancaster and Olentangy Liberty.
Other top teams in the sectional include seventh-seeded Mount Vernon, ninth-seeded Dublin Scioto and 10th-seeded Olentangy Orange. Rounding out the field are Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Chillicothe, Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Darby, Northland, Reynoldsburg and Westland.
UA wrestlers Mason McHugh, David Sog-homonyan and Jake Thomas will try to win their second consecutive sectional titles. The Bears won their home sectional last year after finishing second to Orange each of the previous two seasons.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 6 and 7 at Darby.
Girls soccer, girls track coaches named
Andy Kessinger and Courtney Ruppert will be Upper Arlington's next girls soccer and girls track and field coaches, respectively, pending school board approval.
Kessinger replaces Chris Merrick, who went 50-39-20 overall and 15-11-8 in the OCC-Central Division in six seasons and led the Bears to a district championship in 2015.
Kessinger, a 1988 DeSales graduate, was on the Stallions' 1986 Class AA state championship team and played at Ohio Wesleyan from 1988-91 before playing professionally both in Germany and the U.S. with the Columbus Xoggz of the United States Indoor Soccer League and the National Professional Soccer League's Dayton Dynamo.
"I have three daughters (and) one (Ellie) is a sophomore at UA who plays in the program. When I found out about the opening, having been a soccer player and a club coach, I figured this was a chance to pay it forward in terms of work ethic, structure and teaching the game to girls who want to learn," Kessinger said.
"I love being a part of their development in the game and leaving an imprint."
Ruppert replaces Latisha Wilder, who had coached the girls track and field team since 2014. She also coached both the boys and girls cross country teams from 2013-17, replacing longtime coach Dale Hartney, and the girls team exclusively the past two seasons.
Ruppert, a 1998 graduate of Chillicothe Unioto, has coached track and field for five years at Hastings Middle School, where she also has coached cross country and volleyball.
"(The UA job) is a bucket-list job for me," Ruppert said. "Freshman to senior, I've coached a lot of these kids. I'm looking forward to building a program between middle school and high school and I think I can bridge that gap."
Girls basketball team losing scorers
Senior forwards Adrienne Wachtman and Erisa Pippins averaged 7.3 and 6.7 points, respectively, to lead the girls basketball team, which finished 10-13 overall with a 43-25 loss at 17th-seeded Scioto in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 15.
Sophomore guard Alyssa Gest added 7.1 points per game for the Bears, who battled injuries throughout the season. Junior forward Annie Hargraves missed several games in late January and early February because of a sprained ankle, while Wachtman and senior guard Valerie Feller also missed time early in the season.
Feller had nine points against Scioto to lead 25th-seeded UA, which lost five of its final six games and finished 5-5 in the OCC-Central, fourth behind Coffman (10-0).
Hargraves, an Ohio State lacrosse recruit, was named first-team all-league. Wachtman was second-team all-league, Pippins was special mention all-league and Feller was honorable mention all-league.