Ralph Young Award: Upper Arlington thrilled to earn second All-Sports trophy
Upper Arlington athletics director Tony Pusateri quickly learned the importance of the Ralph Young All-Sports Award a decade ago, when he was in the same job at Dublin Coffman.
The Shamrocks were named the OCC-Central Division's top overall program in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, and once Pusateri came to UA in 2015, he made sure to keep his coaches and players apprised of their place in the standings on a regular basis.
After the Golden Bears clinched their first All-Sports Award since its inaugural year of 2009-10, Pusateri made no secret of how proud he was.
"When you go up against the teams we go up against, it's huge," he said. "This is a big deal."
First- or second-place finishes in nine sports helped UA amass 57 points to finish first, ahead of Coffman (55), Marysville (44), Hilliard Davidson (43), Central Crossing (24) and Westland (16).
The All-Sports Award, in its 11th year, goes to the school in each of the OCC's five divisions that performs the best in the conference's common sports over the course of the school year.
Six points were awarded for finishing first outright, five for tying for first or placing second, four for finishing third and so on.
There were 11 common sports in the OCC-Central.
For the first time, only fall and winter sports point totals were tabulated because the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of the spring season.
UA won outright OCC-Central championships in boys golf, gymnastics, girls swimming and diving and girls tennis and earned three-way ties for first place in boys basketball, with Coffman and Marysville, and football, with Coffman and Davidson.
The football team's league championship was its first since 2008.
"To know that our team's success is reflected in an award for the high school says a lot for the work our girls put in. It's nice to be represented," said gymnastics coach Brittany Maynard, whose team won its third consecutive OCC-Central title. "From the first day I took this job, I could tell the girls took a lot of pride in wearing UA and the Bears on their uniform. They realize they are representing the school and the community every time they compete."
Pusateri and assistant athletics director Spencer Smith cited coaching stability as a primary factor in winning the award. Only football coach Jeremey Scally was in his first season at UA last year, but he left in January to take the same position at Davidson, where he previously had been an assistant for 12 years.
"That kind of stability usually gets results," Pusateri said.
The other All-Sports Award winners were Big Walnut in the OCC-Capital, Dublin Jerome in the OCC-Cardinal, Gahanna in the OCC-Ohio and Olentangy Liberty in the OCC-Buckeye.
The award is named in honor of Young, a longtime OCC secretary and track official who also managed basketball tournaments at the sectional, district and regional levels for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Young, who died in 2019, also served as athletics director at Delaware and treasurer of the OHSAA's Central District.
Pusateri acknowledged UA could face a tough road to a repeat next year. As part of conference realignment, the Bears, Coffman and Davidson will remain in the OCC-Central and be joined by Hilliard Bradley, Liberty and Olentangy Orange.
Bradley and Orange finished second in the Ralph Young standings in the OCC-Cardinal and OCC-Buckeye, respectively.
"From our leadership down, the one thing that was apparent to me when I got to UA was not just how many sports we have, but how well the program is run and how successful we are in a lot of sports," boys golf coach Troy Arbaugh said. "To see all of our state championships (17) is outstanding, but so is all of the success of the other sports."