Kevin Adams set relatively modest goals for himself heading into the Division II state boys cross country meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
The Centennial High School junior far exceeded his expectations by placing 31st of 150 runners in a personal-best 16 minutes, 29.58 seconds. Mick Iacofano of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary won in 15:32.98.
"I had a really amazing race," Adams said. "I thought I could finish somewhere in the 50s if I ran my best race, so to finish 31st feels really good."
In the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, Adams finished 15th in 16:52.75 as the top 16 individuals advanced to state. Wyatt Uresti of Caledonia River Valley was the final individual state qualifier in 17:00.57.
In the district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial, Adams was seventh in 17:19.6 as the top 16 individuals advanced.
Adams was the first Centennial boys runner to qualify for state since Ryan Wilbur in 2003. Wilbur finished 83rd in 17:36.
"My goal was just to make it to state, so the pressure was off for this race," Adams said. "I tempered myself and didn't kill myself in the first mile, and I was able to pass the other kids who did go out too fast. I just put my heart into it and ran my best race. Running at state was the most satisfying experience and I'm already excited to see what I can do next year."
Volleyball team fell short in City final
The girls volleyball team easily won the vast majority of its matches during the regular season, but coach Brenden Pence said that dominance came back to haunt the Stars in a 25-27, 26-24, 25-22, 25-19 loss to Eastmoor Academy in the City League championship Oct. 30 at home.
Centennial finished 19-3 overall. Eastmoor went 16-5.
"We didn't face much adversity this season and when we faced adversity in this match, we didn't handle it very well," Pence said. "Eastmoor Academy was involved in more tough matches than we were this season, and I think they were more prepared for a competitive match than we were.
"Their experience made a big difference for them, too. They have five seniors in their lineup who helped them win this match last year. We had three sophomores starting for us and none of our girls had played in this match before, and I think the difference in experience showed."
After the Stars won the first game, they went ahead 6-1, 14-9 and 22-19 in the second game and 16-15 in the third game.
But the Warriors rallied to win the second and third games and never trailed in the fourth game.
Senior middle hitter Aaliyah Slappy had 12 kills and senior outside hitter Marissa Robertson had 11 kills to lead the Stars.
"They have a lot of good hitters, but we needed to read them and we should have been able to stop them," Slappy said. "Our weakness was our mental toughness. We didn't have a lot of competition to prepare us for this match and when we got down, we had a hard time coming back."
The Stars won the City League-North Division title at 16-0, finishing ahead of Whetstone (12-4), Brookhaven (10-5), Columbus East (10-5), Northland (8-8), Beechcroft (6-10), Columbus International (6-10), Mifflin (3-13) and Linden-McKinley (0-16).
Centennial swept Whetstone, winning 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 on Sept. 6 and 25-15, 25-10, 25-17 on Oct. 9.
But the ninth-seeded Stars lost to 11th-seeded Hamilton Township 25-17, 25-10, 25-12 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 17 at home.
"Beating Whetstone twice in three games was a big highlight," senior opposite hitter Mary Gardner said. "Our season went pretty well. Not much went wrong for us."
The Stars lose two senior starters in Gardner and Slappy, who were both first-team all-league.
Slappy had 146 kills, 41 aces and 27 blocks. Gardner had 145 kills and 75 aces.
Six players who started multiple matches are expected to return in juniors Alyah Dean (libero), Symfhani Pitts (opposite hitter) and Maya Robertson (outside hitter) and sophomores Sierra Hawkins (middle hitter), Sam Meanor (setter) and Marissa Robertson (outside hitter).
Marissa Robertson (179 kills, 112 digs, 68 aces, 11 blocks) was first-team all-league. Dean (203 digs, 69 aces) and Meanor (559 assists) were second-team all-league.
Hawkins (76 kills, 23 blocks) and Maya Robertson (81 digs, 31 aces) were honorable mention all-league.
Pitts had 71 aces and sophomore defensive specialist Danelle Easley had 85 digs.
"Our seniors were team players who filled their leadership roles well," Pence said. "We have a lot of talented kids coming back and our j.v. team didn't lose a (game) all year while going 20-0, so I feel good about our future."