Upper Arlington Roundup: Cross country teams advance to state

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington’s Charlie Nowinski finished 14th at the Division I regional cross county meet Oct. 31 at Pickerington North. The Golden Bears were fifth in the team standings to earn their first team berth at state since 2004.

Upper Arlington girls cross country runner Elizabeth Lembach still has a tough time thinking about the end of her junior season, when the Golden Bears did not advance beyond a Division I district meet.

That made the team’s first district championship since 2014 that much more special for Lembach and the other returnees from last year’s top seven, Megan Kiehl and Lydia Schoedinger.

Top-10 finishes from standout freshman Aubrey Steiner (third, 18 minutes, 58.5 seconds), Schoedinger (fifth, 19:16.3) and Lembach (ninth, 19:40.4) powered UA to 70 points and first place in the district 3 meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby as Olentangy Liberty (82) was runner-up as 13 teams scored.

The Golden Bears followed up the district title by finishing fourth (141) at the regional Oct. 31 at Pickerington North to advance to state as a team for the first time since 2013. Hilliard Davidson (42) won the title, and other state qualifiers were Lancaster (135), Dublin Coffman (140) and Gahanna (181).

“Last year was devastating, but this was amazing,” said Lembach, a senior. “I was worried (after district) because we were losing two of our top runners but we added some awesome girls. We got a good grasp right away because of their work ethic. But after we won the Central Ohio Cross Country Invitational (on Sept. 19 at Three Creeks Metro Park), it was like ‘Wow, this is real.’ ”

Steiner, Schoedinger and Lembach finished first, fourth and seventh that day, and UA defeated runner-up Dublin Jerome by 29 points (64-93).

Juniors Rian Adkins and Tora Blamer and freshmen Maggie Malone and Adelaide Petras rounded out the top seven at district.

“The girls created an awesome environment. We had 10 girls battling for seven spots and a ton of freshmen who have been amazing,” first-year coach Allison Ewing said. “Seeing the older girls encourage them and bring them along has been awesome. The girls made it fun to watch them every weekend.”

At the regional, Schoedinger finished eighth in 19:30.6, followed by Steiner (11th, 19:37.1), Lembach (35th, 20:25.9), Malone (57th, 20:49.1) and Adkins (74th, 21:09.3).

For the boys team, senior Charlie Nowinski has led a largely stable top seven for the second consecutive season, although he cited several changes to his routine from a year ago.

Nowinski, whose personal-best time is 15:44.9, ran a 16:14.2 in the district 2 meet to finish third and lead UA to second place (63) behind champion Jerome (53).

Senior Payton Domagalski, juniors Ryan Card, Ty Fredrick, Nathan Mark and Alex Nicol and freshman Thomas McMahon rounded out the postseason top seven.

Nowinski said a diet consisting largely of fruits, vegetables and protein and longer runs over the summer helped him trim time.

“I knew I wanted to be significantly better than last year,” Nowinski said. “It’s helped me to go out faster and staying with that main pack. It’s brought my time down 40 seconds or so from last year. My goal is always to be in the top-10 and I’ve been able to do that most of the time.”

At regional, the Golden Bears (147) grabbed the final qualifying spot to advance to state for the first time since 2004, finishing fifth behind Hilliard Davidson (57), Dublin Coffman (128), Lancaster (137) and Dublin Jerome (138). 

Nowinski led UA by placing 14th in 16:33.3, followed by Nicol (37th, 17:07.7), Domagalski (39th in 17:09.9), Mark (47th, 17:15.8) and Card (48th, 17:16.8).

“At the beginning of the season, I told our boys I wanted them to run every race like it was their last,” coach Bryn Rohlck said. “They ran so hard this summer that I saw us turning into a team that would break down some barriers.

“We were anxious about how out of shape they might have been (without a track and field season in the spring), but they came out ready to go.”

Junior Megan Basil returns a shot during the Division II state doubles tournament Oct. 24. She and teammate Ella Hazelbaker, a senior, became the Golden Bears' first state champions since 2015.

Tennis team celebrates

strong season

The final weekend of the season contained ups and downs for the girls tennis team, but UA ended the year celebrating its first state champions in five years after senior Ella Hazelbaker and junior Megan Basil won the Division I doubles title Oct. 24 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

Basil and Hazelbaker, who went 4-0 at state and beat Centerville’s Caroline Hinshaw and Clara Owen 7-6, 6-3 in the final, are UA’s first champions since Olivia Kompa and Paige Kompa won doubles in 2015. Audrey Berger and Kyra Jung won in 2014.

Senior Noah Mizer and sophomore Ava Richard placed third in doubles.

The Bears finished 17-3 after falling to Mason 3-2 in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state final the next day at Reynoldsburg.

UA swept Toledo Notre Dame Academy 3-0 in a semifinal.

“We’re grateful that we made it this far,” coach Shaun Stamps said. “We had a great Friday and Saturday in Mason with our individual players but we just came up a little short (in the OTCA final). Everybody fought to the very last point of their season. They fought to the very last day.

“(Basil and Hazelbaker) had to play really well and they played really well. The draw was what we wanted for both teams. When we got the draw, we thought we had a shot to get both teams to the semis and it happened. Megan and Ella played a great semifinal and continued right into the final. They didn’t let up. They deserved it.”

UA, which has been represented at state in 28 of the past 29 seasons, also went 5-0 in the OCC-Central to win its 31st league championship in 32 seasons by one match ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (4-1).

Other players eligible to return include juniors Anna Leach and Olivia Westin and freshman Isabella Roth.

Field hockey team

falls to New Albany

The field hockey team’s season endedOct. 27 with a familiar result, as it lost 2-1 in overtime at fourth-seeded New Albany in a district semifinal.

Sophomore midfielder Emily Barker scored the tying goal with five minutes left in the second half for fifth-seeded UA, which finished 11-7 overall and 7-1 in the COFHL-West. The Bears also lost to the Eagles 3-2 in double overtime Sept. 30.

Senior forward Katie Webber scored a team-leading 16 goals for UA, which opened the postseason Oct. 22 with a 2-0 home win over 14th-seeded Dublin Scioto. Barker added 11 goals and six more players scored between two and four goals each.

Other players eligible to return for the Bears, who improved by four wins from 2019 and won their first seven league games, include juniors Caroline Campbell (midfielder/defender), Mia Hargraves (midfielder/defender), Caroline Langmeyer (goalie) and Brooke Stauffer (goalie) and freshman Sammie Callaghan (forward).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

FIELD HOCKEY

•Record: 11-7 overall

•COFHL-West standings: Thomas Worthington (8-0), Upper Arlington (7-1), Olentangy Liberty (5-2-1), Dublin Jerome (4-2-2), Olentangy (4-4), Olentangy Orange (3-4-1), Dublin Scioto (2-6), Dublin Coffman (1-7), Olentangy Berlin (0-8)

•Seniors lost: Paris Alexander, Elizabeth Cramer, Lucy DeVita, Claire Kramer, Louise Mitchell, Emily Toohey and Katie Webber

•Key returnees: Emily Barker, Sammie Callaghan, Caroline Campbell, Mia Hargraves, Caroline Langmeyer and Brooke Stauffer

•Postseason: Defeated Scioto 2-0; lost to New Albany 2-1 (OT) in district semifinal

GIRLS TENNIS

•Record: 17-3 overall 

•OCC-Central standings: Upper Arlington (5-0), Coffman (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Orange (2-3), Hilliard Bradley (1-4), Hilliard Davidson (0-5)

•Seniors lost: Ella Hazelbaker, Noah Mizer and Emma Wang

•Key returnees: Megan Basil, Ellis Mizer, Ava Richard and Isabella Roth