Upper Arlington Roundup: Relays set pace for Golden Bears girls track team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
The Golden Bears' Ellie Ford soars on a high-jump attempt during the Upper Arlington Invitational on April 2. Ford, a junior, is expected to compete in hurdles, jumps and sprints.

Courtney Ruppert couldn’t have asked for a better start to her first season as Upper Arlington girls track and field coach, considering the Golden Bears finished second in their first invitational and first in the second, the inaugural Upper Arlington Invitational on April 2.

For Ruppert, the best part is that she can’t pinpoint one reason for the team’s success.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” she said. “There isn’t one standout area. We just have a lot of consistency and depth.

"It’s more than I expected this early. I thought we might have a rocky start because of COVID(-19 coronavirus pandemic) and not getting in all of our training over the winter, but we’re starting stronger than I expected.”

Relays have been a particularly strong point early, as UA swept all four during the opening Cincinnati La Salle Legends Track and Field Classic on March 27 and won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays during its home invitational.

Seniors Adiah Bonham, Ella Krimm, Elizabeth Lembach, Emma Schueler and Sofia Sivilotti, sophomore Clara Reynolds and freshmen Maggie Malone, Elaina Schneider and Aubrey Steiner were among the key contributors.

Lembach, Malone and Steiner were on the girls cross country team that finished 16th in the Division I state meet in November, and Schueler is a Miami University swimming recruit.

“I think our relays are farther along because we shuffle people around to see who’s the best fit,” Ruppert said. “It’s a plug-and-play thing so it’s exciting.”

Senior Hope Perry, junior Ellie Ford and sophomore Amelia Pearson should contribute in hurdles, jumps and sprints. Reynolds will run sprints and middle distance.

Ford was ninth in the pole vault (10 feet, 6 inches) in the Division I indoor state meet March 6 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva.

Throwers include junior Evie Sanford and freshman Maddison Tyree.

GIRLS TRACK & FIELD

•Coach: Courtney Ruppert, first season

•Next meet: April 17 at Dublin Coffman Joe Lenge Dublin Classic

•Key athletes: Ellie Ford, Hope Perry, Evie Sanford, Emma Schueler and Aubrey Steiner

Distance runners

leading boys team

Even as second-year boys track and field coach Bryan Ferres handed out trophies following the Upper Arlington Invitational, he was in awe of his team finishing second.

“Our distance team is carrying things right now and so is mid-distance,” Ferres said. “Some of our sprinters are coming out of nowhere, really. Overall, we’re well-rounded and scoring points left and right.

"I had no idea (coming into) this year. We didn’t know exactly what we had, but right now we’re excelling in distance, middle distance and sprints, and field guys are picking up some extra important points.”

Seniors Payton Domagalski and Charlie Nowinski, juniors Evan Hughes and Alex Nicol and sophomore Thomas McMahon are among the top distance runners. All but Hughes helped the boys cross country team to its first state appearance since 2004 and a 14th-place finish.

Nowinski finished ninth in the 3,200 (9:28.47) at the indoor state meet.

“We’re looking at some state-caliber guys,” Ferres said. “(Nowinski) did very well at indoor state so he is carrying that onto outdoors. He’s been training really hard.”

Junior Caden Woods and sophomores Luke Branch-Rockey and Justin Miller have emerged as top sprinters.

Senior Jason Ferola will participate in hurdles, sprints and throws, the latter with classmates Quinlin Scherl and Cole Schweitzer.

Other field athletes include senior George Shade (jumps) and junior Matthew McHugh (pole vault, sprints).

BOYS TRACK & FIELD

•Coach: Bryan Ferres, second season

•Next meet: April 17 at Joe Lenge Dublin Classic

•Key athletes: Luke Branch-Rockey, Payton Domagalski, Charlie Nowinski, Cole Schweitzer and Caden Woods

Hari, Holland return

for young tennis team

Seniors Avi Hari and Joey Holland are the only two returnees from 2019 for the boys tennis team, which hopes to begin a new streak of representation at the Division I state tournament.

Fourth-year coach Will Thieman said senior Jack Jones and sophomore Ethan Samora also were expected to play prominent roles last season, although spots in this season's lineup are expected to be flexible early.

“It’s a very, very new team. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in the last week or two. Guys are in the right spots more than they were and just learning and making shots,” Thieman said. “They’re in the right position on the court, doing the little things. That’s getting much better. We’ll definitely move some people around (between singles and doubles). We’re still finding what works.”

UA won its 37th consecutive league championship in 2019 but did not have any state qualifiers for the first time since 1958.

Samora, Jones and Holland began the season at first, second and third singles, respectively. Hari played first doubles with junior Daniel Goldberg, and junior Ryan Baxley and freshman Ford Clark played second doubles.

Junior Joe Saalman, sophomore John Horn and freshman Luca Sivilotti also could see varsity time. Carrying 10 players is an increase from most years for Thieman.

“I took 10 only because I haven’t really seen anybody play in two years,” Thieman said. “We have two freshmen and two sophomores in that top 10 I really want to work with and help get better. They’ll get their opportunities to play. You don’t really know what you have until later in the season.”

BOYS TENNIS

•Coach: Will Thieman, fourth season

•Next match: April 15 at Olentangy Liberty

•Key athletes: Daniel Goldberg, Avi Hari, Joey Holland, Jack Jones and Ethan Samora

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave