One sentiment has motivated Isse Roble of the Central Crossing High School boys track and field team since last season ended.
"We had one of the best (3,200-meter relays) I've ever seen last year," Roble, a junior, said of 2012 graduates Will Doering, Kyle Dyer, Stanley Gates and Donovan Wonacott. "They taught me the ropes, and when they graduated, they said, 'It's up to you. Don't lose what we've built. We worked hard to give Central Crossing its reputation. Don't let it go away.'"
Gates now is running at Howard University, and the other three are at Shawnee State. That means the Comets are depending on Roble to consistently earn points in the 1,600 and 3,200, as well as the 3,200 relay.
In the season-opening Icebreaker Invitational on March 30 at Watkins Memorial, Roble was third in the 3,200 (10 minutes, 30.92 seconds) and helped the 3,200 relay place fourth (9:16.2) with juniors Matt Chamblin and Hunter Taylor and sophomore Cody Calafatis.
"Isse will score in boys distance every week. No matter where we go, that's what I see," said Billy Houghton, an assistant to second-year coach Doug Boggs.
Sophomore Kristina Myers was sixth in the 1,600 (6:02.44) and fourth in the 3,200 (13:16.49) for the girls team at Watkins Memorial, and classmate Maggie Swallows was fifth in the shot put (29 feet, 11 1/2 inches) and ninth in the discus (74-11).
"We're just getting into the groove of things, trying to show them how it goes," senior distance runner Molly Lalonde said. "Some of them have never experienced big meets before, but they're performing like they have."
Other key contributors are expected to include seniors Zane Aleman (pole vault), Luke Anderson (distance), Anthony Conde-Cabrera (sprinter), Brenda Pereyra-Perez (jumper, sprinter), Sami Peterson (pole vault) and Tyler Tope (long jump, hurdler, sprinter), junior Brittany Craig (pole vault), sophomores William De La Rosa (middle distance) and Jessica Stanley (middle distance) and freshmen Caleb Alexander (sprinter), Taylor Bernhard (middle distance), Natasha Holland (hurdler), Taylor Manivanh (sprinter), Ryan Peoples (thrower) and Sydney Peters (sprinter).
The boys tied Worthington Kilbourne for sixth (35) in the OCC-Central Division meet last year behind Hilliard Davidson (170.5), Dublin Coffman (146), Thomas Worthington (115.5), Hilliard Darby (80) and Upper Arlington (52) and ahead of Westland (25). The girls were seventh (20.5) behind Coffman (179.5), Davidson (164), Kilbourne (82), Darby (78.25), Thomas (62.75) and UA (56) and ahead of Westland (15).
Darby and Kilbourne have moved to the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Marys-ville and Olentangy Liberty.
In the 16-team district 1 meet, the boys finished ninth (25) behind champion Davidson (104), led by the first-place 3,200 relay (8:04.42). But the Comets' season ended at regional, where they tied Dublin Scioto, Hamilton Township and Marysville for 31st (3) behind champion Pickerington North (60) as 38 teams scored. Wonacott was sixth in the 1,600 (4:22.73), the 3,200 relay was ninth (8:04.59) and Dyer was 12th in the 800 (1:59.67).
The girls were 13th (15) in the 17-team district 2 meet behind champion Davidson (101.5) and did not score at regional as eventual state champion Reynoldsburg (77) won. Pereyra-Perez was 11th in the 400 (1:01.11) and 2012 graduate Kendall Witherup was 11th in the high jump (4-8).
In the Icebreaker Invitational, the boys were 13th (11) behind the champion and host Warriors (179) as 17 teams scored and the girls were 12th (12) behind champion Gahanna (198) as 16 teams scored.
In a tri-meet April 2 at Darby, the boys were third (30) behind Darby (73) and Pickerington North (71) and the girls were third (28) behind Darby (86) and North (60). Freshman Colter Bass won the long jump (18-5) and 100 (11.4), and Roble won the 3,200 (10:58.7). Swallows won the shot put (29-0), and Peterson won the pole vault in a school record 8-7, one inch better than her best effort last year.
"(Bass) has all the talent to make a championship run this season," Boggs said. "He finished second in the 200 by .01 (on April 2) ... not a bad start for his first high school meet."