Centennial High School cross country coach Rhonda Reese didn't think her girls team would have enough depth to win the City League meet Oct. 10 at Whetstone. After all, three of her seven runners were competing for only the second time.
So Reese was elated when the Stars scored 41 points to capture their fifth consecutive City championship ahead of Whetstone (42), Northland (77), Africentric (92) and Eastmoor Academy (97).
"We didn't even have enough (five) runners to score as a team in our first three meets of the season, so I don't think anyone was expecting us to win this meet this year," Reese said. "Whetstone's girls run a great pack. We just happen to have a couple of frontrunners, and the rest of our girls ran (personal-record times) behind them to make the difference.
"All of our girls ran so hard to improve their times that I would have still been satisfied if we hadn't have won, because I knew that they all did their best."
Sophomore Catherine Ryan won the race (19 minutes, 50 seconds) ahead of runner-up and teammate Emiyah Kelly (20:31).
Carmen Godel finished fifth (21:27) to earn first-team all-league honors with Ryan and Kelly.
Emily Carpenter (15th), Breanna Neutzling (21st), Natalie Thies (28th) and Claire Curran (46th) also competed for the Stars.
It was just the second cross country race for Godel, Thies and Curran.
"My time wasn't what I hoped it would be because I finished in 19:44 on this course (Sept. 19 while winning the Arrowhead Invitational)," Ryan said. "But it was fun to win this meet again, personally, and I'm proud of how we ran as a team because most of our girls set a new (personal record)."
The Stars will compete in the Division II district meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Watkins Memorial.
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
Last year, the Stars finished 11th (261) of 16 teams at district, behind champion Granville (61).
Ryan finished 11th (20:51.31) to become the only Stars runner to advance to regional. She placed 26th at regional in 20:36.45 as the top 16 advanced to state.
"Our team is very young so we most likely won't make it to regional, but my goal is to break my (personal record of 19:44) and to qualify as an individual along with one or two of my teammates," Ryan said.
Boys cross country squad second in City
The boys cross country team finished second (109) in the City meet behind Whetstone (37) and ahead of Columbus South (110), Eastmoor (119), Walnut Ridge (140), Africentric (141), Mifflin (186), Northland (188), Independence (192), Marion-Franklin (197) and Beechcroft (268).
The Stars had won the previous two City meets.
"I'm still excited about the way we ran because all of our boys pushed hard and did their best," Reese said. "We were missing a couple of boys who could have helped us, but they didn't make their grades and were ineligible to run."
Kevin Adams won the meet in 17:08, John Neutzling finished fifth (18:09) and Mathias Scherer finished 12th (19:01). Adams and Neutzling earned first-team all-league honors, and Scherer was second-team all-league.
Also competing for the Stars were Glauco Fontgalland (40th) and Shayekh Rara (58th).
"It feels amazing to win this race because I was 14th here as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore," said Adams, a junior. "It's hard sometimes when you're in the lead and the gator cart is the only thing ahead of you, but racing is all about pushing yourself, and I was able to hold on for first place."
The boys team will compete in the Division II, district 2 meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Watkins Memorial. The top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to the regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
Last year, Centennial finished second (59) in the 11-team district 2 meet behind Lakewood (58) and 10th (251) of 16 squads in the regional at Troy behind champion Springfield Shawnee (71).
"Our teams aren't likely to finish in the top four at district, but I think we have the potential to have two or three girls and two boys move on as individuals," Reese said. "All of our kids should be shooting for their (personal record) at district."
Football squad continues to struggle
The football team will play a City League-North Division game Friday, Oct. 19, at Columbus East. Centennial, which lost to Brookhaven 48-7 on Oct. 12 to drop to 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the City-North, defeated East 14-12 last year.
Charles Rodgers returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown against Brookhaven.
East lost to Beechcroft 66-13 on Oct. 12 to drop to 3-5 and 0-5. Junior quarterback James Curry rushed 1 yard for a score and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver P.J. Kinlocke.