Upper Arlington Roundup: Golden Bears girls track and field squad takes leap forward
Courtney Ruppert was thrilled not just that her Upper Arlington girls track and field team ended its season — her first as head coach — in the Division I state meet, but also about the manner in which that happened.
The Golden Bears’ six qualifiers across five events were the program’s most at state since 2004, when 11 Bears competed in seven events.
Five times since 2013, UA’s only state qualifier was in the 3,200 meters.
Senior Emma Schueler, sophomore Clara Reynolds and freshmen Maggie Robertson and Elaina Schneider provided the team’s best finish June 5 at Hilliard Darby when they placed seventh in the 1,600 relay in 3 minutes, 58.49 seconds.
“The girls were consistent from early on and able to maintain that. That’s a pretty successful season in my book,” Ruppert said. “Of late we’d only been taking distance kids (to state), so it was exciting to flip the script a little bit and showcase our talent in other realms. The really exciting thing is of those six girls, four are (returning).”
Junior Ellie Ford finished ninth in the pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches), senior Hope Perry was 10th in the 100 hurdles (15.24), Reynolds tied for 10th in the 400 (58.52) and the 800 relay of Reynolds, Robertson, Schneider and Schueler placed 14th (1:44.98).
UA scored two points and tied Chagrin Falls Kenston, Cuyahoga Falls, Independence, Lebanon, Macedonia Nordonia, Miamisburg and Trotwood-Madison for 63rd place behind champion Mentor (70) as 75 teams scored.
The relay was UA’s first to make state since 2010, when the 3,200 relay placed 11th.
Ford vaulted 11-6 on her second try but did not clear any of her three attempts at 12-0, which would have edged the program record of 11-8 she set by finishing fourth at regional May 28 at Pickerington North.
“(My season) started out a little bit rough but it got better at the end,” Ford said. “I was nervous (coming to state). There’s a lot of competition.
“I loved the experience of getting here. I’m starting to get more into this and I’m hoping to vault better this winter and next year and go to college.”
Other athletes eligible to return include junior Evie Sanford (throws), sophomore Amelia Pearson (hurdles, sprints) and freshmen Quinn Buttermore (sprints), Sammie Callaghan (sprints), Maggie Malone (distance) and Maddison Tyree (throws).
The boys team, which did not have any state qualifiers, expects to return two of its four regional competitors in sophomores Luke Branch-Rockey and Justin Miller. Both were on the 12th-place 3,200 relay.
Also expected back are juniors Luke Eriksen (distance), Max Gillum (sprints), Evan Hughes (distance), Hayden Kegg (throws), Matthew McHugh (pole vault), Justin Murdick (jumps) and Ned Neely (sprints) and freshman Ezra Liu (sprints).
Some of them were at Darby to support the girls, which is exactly what the coaches want to see.
“It’s all very cohesive. The coed side of things came together,” Ruppert said. “The guys supported the girls and that’s all we can ask for as coaches, that they act as one group.”
TRACK & FIELD
•OCC-Central standings: Boys — Olentangy Orange (137), Hilliard Davidson (104), Dublin Coffman (92), Olentangy Liberty (76), Hilliard Bradley (65), Upper Arlington (46); Girls — Orange (140), Davidson (117), UA (93), Liberty (75), Coffman (60), Bradley (38)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Omar Abuhammad, Trent Clayton, Payton Domagalski, Edward Dominek, Jason Ferola, Zane Graver, Jaylin Hines, Evan Jakovic, Coleman Kegler, Michael Lee, Charlie Nowinski, Dylan Nowinski, Quinlin Scherl, Cole Schweitzer, George Shade and Michael Wulf; Girls — Adiah Bonham, Ella Krimm, Elizabeth Lembach, Louise Mitchell, Katelyn Nowinski, Hope Perry, Vanmathi Santhanam, Emma Schueler, Sofia Sivilotti and Hannah Timbrook
•Key returnees: Boys — Luke Branch-Rockey, Luke Eriksen, Evan Hughes, Matthew McHugh and Justin Miller; Girls — Quinn Buttermore, Ellie Ford, Clara Reynolds, Evie Sanford and Elaina Schneider
•Postseason: Boys — Ninth (22) at district behind champion Pickerington Central (104), did not score at regional; Girls — Second (76) at district behind champion Central (85), eighth (26) at regional behind champion Gahanna (84), tied for 63rd (2) at state behind champion Mentor (70)