Isse Roble of the Central Crossing High School boys track and field team recently went for a run with former teammate Donovan Wonacott, a 2012 graduate now competing at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth.
Perhaps inevitably, banter turned to talk of Roble's season. The junior placed eighth in the 3,200 meters (10 minutes, 13.21 seconds) in the 16-team Division I, district 3 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, falling four spots shy of advancing to the regional meet held May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North. He also anchored the Comets' 1,600 and 3,200 relays that finished 12th (4:08.44) and 13th (9:16.3), respectively, at district.
His district performance made Roble hungrier for next season. He wants to break the program records in the 3,200 (9:48) and 1,600 (4:21.95), both of which were set by Wonacott in 2012.
"I ran that 10:13 at district, and I'll do anything I can to get 9:48," said Roble, who occasionally competed in sprint events this spring. "That's what I want, and that's what's going to drive me all offseason. I'll go high-mileage and I'll be faster in time for cross country in the fall.
"If I get the records, I will be beside myself."
That's the kind of attitude that has coach Doug Boggs already anticipating next season, despite the loss of the program's only state qualifier this season in Brenda Pereyra Perez and eight other seniors.
"That sort of leadership is extremely valuable," Boggs said. "I want kids who will aggressively reach for their goals."
Pereyra Perez finished 15th in the long jump (15 feet, 11 inches) in the Division I state meet held June 7 and 8. She was Central Crossing's first state qualifier since 2009, when Matt Shaffer finished 12th in the 800 (1:55.21), and was the first state qualifier for the girls team since 2007, when Jordan Kennedy finished 15th in the 800 (2:20.08).
The Central Crossing girls team did not score at state as Solon (47) won the team championship and 74 teams scored.
At regional, Pereyra Perez placed fourth in the long jump (16-9 3/4) and seventh in the 100 (12.79) and senior Molly Lalonde finished 12th in the 3,200 (11:55.04), as the top four finishers in each event qualified for state. The Comets scored seven points to tie Northland and Thomas Worthington for 25th behind co-champions Gahanna (55) and Pickerington Central (55) as 39 teams scored.
Lalonde also qualified for regional in the 1,600 but opted not to compete in the event.
In the 16-team district 3 meet, Pereyra Perez finished first in the long jump in a program-record 17-2 1/2 and placed third in the 100 (12.57), and Lalonde placed fourth in both the 1,600 (program-record 5:17.16) and 3,200 (11:36.41), as the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional.
The Comets finished eighth (36) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (141).
The boys team did not have any regional qualifiers. Roble's finish in the 3,200 earned one point for the Comets, who finished 16th behind champion Granville (117).
In the OCC-Central Division meet May 16 and 18, Pereyra Perez was the highest finisher for the girls team, placing third in the long jump (15-9 1/2), 100 (12.95) and 400 (59.96). The Comets scored 49 points to place sixth behind Hilliard Davidson (141.5), Coffman (140), Olentangy Liberty (110), Upper Arlington (97) and host Thomas Worthington (79.5) and ahead of Marysville (36) and Westland (9).
The highest finisher for the boys team in the OCC-Central meet was junior Toryko Grace, a first-year thrower who placed third in the discus (program-record 137-5) as the Comets placed eighth (28) behind Davidson (204.5), Liberty (127), Thomas (75), Coffman (72.5), UA (61), Marysville (53) and Westland (31).
In addition to Grace and Roble, among those expected to be key contributors next season are freshmen Colter Bass (long jump) and Ryan Peoples (throws).
Bass was hindered late in the season by knee and hamstring problems.
"His upside is tremendous," Boggs said. "He'll do lots of offseason stuff, and he has a personal trainer. He learned what it takes to be aggressive the whole season."
Among those expected to key contributors for the girls team next season are sophomores Kristina Myers (distance), Jessica Stanley (middle distance) and Maggie Swallows (throws) and freshmen Caleb Alexander (sprints), Taylor Manivanh (sprints), Kailee Peters (sprints) and Sydney Peters (sprints).
"Overall, this was a very young (program), and I can't complain about what we were able to do this year," said Boggs, who completed his third season leading the program. "We had some good young runners and some very strong senior leaders. I hope (the underclassmen) saw what it takes to go hard and set out achieving their goals the right way."