Upper Arlington Athletics: Some teams playing waiting game
Julia Rabadam's hopes for a Division I state championship -- whether individually, for her team or both -- remained very much alive as the Upper Arlington girls golf team began tryouts Aug. 3 at Turnberry.
Rabadam, a senior and Cincinnati commit, helped lead the Golden Bears to a second-place finish at last year's state tournament behind OCC-Central Division rival New Albany, which hasn't lost a match since the 2017 season. Two teammates from last year's top five also return in senior Reagan Nolan and junior Eileen Murray.
At this point, Rabadam expects to compete in the season's biggest tournaments even as the road through the regular season features an unprecedented detour for some UA teams.
All UA fall teams with the exception of water polo began training on or close to Aug. 1, but they face a catch. Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, UA will begin the school year Wednesday, Aug. 19, with virtual learning, during which time golf and tennis will be allowed to compete but other sports will be limited to practices.
The district's hope last week was that virtual learning will last until at least Sept. 18.
"I understand why UA is taking these measures to try to keep us safe with the whole pandemic," Rabadam said. "Not going to school the first month is one of the big reasons, but as a team we'll all try to keep practicing and keep going."
UA began August in Phase 1, in which contact is prohibited and groups are limited to 10 or fewer. The district had progressed into Phase 3, in which contact was allowed, by late July before regressing.
Water polo season was moved to the spring in July by a unanimous vote of coaches statewide.
Winter and spring teams currently are not training.
"Once we move into hybrid learning, whenever that is, then we think we'll be able to continue (all) sports," athletics director Tony Pusateri.
The boys golf team began its season Aug. 6 with the first round of the four-round OCC-Central Division tournament at Denison Golf Club. The girls opened Aug. 7 with Pickerington North's Panther Invitational at Turnberry, in which Rabadam tied for medalist honors with a 73 and the Bears finished seventh (335) of 27 teams as Mason won (307).
The girls tennis team was to open Aug. 12 at Dayton Chaminade Julienne.
All other fall teams were scheduled to play their openers between Aug. 21 and 29.
Also, the Ohio High School Athletic Association released a proposal Aug. 7 for a shortened football season in which all teams would qualify for the playoffs after a six-game regular season, but the plan needed Gov. Mike DeWine's approval. The proposal called for the season to begin the final weekend of August, as previously scheduled, with the postseason beginning Oct. 9 and ending no later than Nov. 21.
"All of us want a season and we all know that what we're facing is new for everybody. We're dealing with turmoil and challenges we haven't seen," said first-year football coach Justin Buttermore, whose team is scheduled to open Aug. 28 at Reynoldsburg. "We've split the offense and defense into position groups, spread out over the entire field (at Marv Moorehead Memorial Stadium), and we're split between the weight room and the field. We got a lot of work in this summer and had some 7-on-7 competition against each other. We're preparing as if we'll have a season and following the rules at the same time."
Senior Emily Zhang and freshman Mary Murray join the girls golf team's top five under first-year coach Andrew Hoobler, a 2001 graduate of UA who takes over for Steve Ford.
"The five girls are going to provide the competition themselves. As the season progresses, they will want to be fluid within those five (spots) but it all will figure itself out as we move forward," Hoobler said. "Every bag is important. It doesn't matter if you're the first or fifth girl, you never know when that score is going to count. Every girl has to have that attitude."
The boys golf team has won four consecutive OCC-Central championships and will rely largely on youth this season. Sophomore Dylan Cullman earned the top spot in tryouts, followed by freshman Brady Catalano, junior Daniel Goldberg and seniors Jud Turner and Jack McLaughlin, respectively, to round out the top five.
Goldberg's 76 led UA in the first round of the league tournament, in which the Bears shot a 329 and placed fourth behind Olentangy Liberty (296), Olentangy Orange (308) and Dublin Coffman (321) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (333) and Hilliard Bradley (334).
Also scoring were Catalano (83), Cullman (83) and Turner (87).
The second round was Aug. 12 at Turnberry.
"(Cullman) was an up-and-coming freshman last year who I knew was going to be a good player. He made our fifth spot of the tryouts but didn't hold on to it. ... (This year), he made everybody aware of where he was," third-year coach Troy Arbaugh said. "This top three is pretty clear, it just depends on where they fall in the pecking order. They're going to battle all year to hold on to those spots."
Seniors Joey Holland and Nick Porter will start the season on the B team but could challenge for the fifth spot on varsity.
At a glance
*Coach: Troy Arbaugh, third season
*Top players: Brady Catalano, Dillon Coleman, Daniel Goldberg, Jack McLaughlin and Jud Turner
*Key losses: Joe Mollica and Max Sloan
*2019 OCC-Central standings: Upper Arlington (19-1), Dublin Coffman (17-3), Hilliard Davidson (12-8), Marysville (8-12), Central Crossing (4-16), Westland (0-20)
*2019 postseason: Third at sectional, seventh at district
*Coach: Andrew Hoobler, first season
*Top players: Eileen Murray, Mary Murray, Reagan Nolan, Julia Rabadam and Emily Zhang
*Key losses: Emily Hummer and Lizzie Murray
*2019 OCC-Central standings: New Albany (20-0), UA (16-4), Coffman (12-8), Marysville (8-12), Davidson (3-17), Canal Winchester (1-19)
*2019 postseason: First at sectional, second at district, second at state