Centennial High School girls track and field coach Rhonda Reese already that knew it was going to be difficult for her team to defend its City League championship after two of its top sprinters from a year ago, Aalyah Slappy and Jenna Herron, chose not to return this spring.
The task became even more challenging for the Stars when they learned that one of their best distance runners, Emiyah Kelly (foot injury), and one of their top sprinters, Isabella Luaces (concussion), wouldn't be able to compete in the City League meet May 13 and 15 at Whetstone.
Consequently, Reese altered her team's goals for the meet, in which Centennial scored 30 points to finish eighth behind Eastmoor Academy (111), Northland (104), Whetstone (81), Columbus International (56), Africentric (48), Walnut Ridge (34) and Brookhaven (31).
Beechcroft (29) finished ninth, followed by Independence (23), Columbus South (21), Marion-Franklin (16), Columbus West (8), Linden-McKinley (7), Columbus East (6), Briggs (4) and Mifflin (3).
"We only had six girls running for us and three girls throwing for us here, and that's what was left of our entire team this year so I knew we weren't going to win," Reese said. "I feel like the girls we did have healthy and competing here did really well, but we just didn't have the depth to compete with some of the bigger schools that brought full teams with them."
Kate Ryan led the Stars, winning the 3,200 meters (12 minutes, 41.16 seconds) and 1,600 (5:38.88) and teaming with Marissa Robertson, Lutasia Dennis and Dannelle Eastep to place fifth in the 3,200 relay (11:20.42).
"I didn't run really good times in the mile or two-mile, but I'm happy I won," Ryan said. "We didn't have a huge team this year, but we had a lot of good performances overall."
Also scoring for the Stars was Aubri Caslin, who placed fifth in the shot put (34 feet, 9 1/2 inches) and seventh in the discus (83-4).
"Marissa did a good job on our relays, but she is recovering from a knee injury that she suffered in basketball so she hasn't been able to hurdle for us," Reese said. "Kate was the biggest highlight for us, and Aubri did well, too."
The Stars are competing in the Division I, district 3 meet this week at Hilliard Darby. The event began May 22 with field events, continues Thursday, May 23, with running event preliminaries and concludes Saturday, May 25, with running event finals.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet Wednesday, May 29, and May 31 at Pickerington North.
"We're just going to compete hard and hope we qualify for regional," Ryan said. "I got passed at the very end of the 800 and finished fifth last year, so my goal is to top that performance."
Boys track team ties for third in City meet
The boys track and field team scored 43 points in the City meet to tie Brookhaven for third behind Eastmoor (132) and Independence (130.5).
Whetstone (41) finished fifth, followed by Linden (41), Northland (40.5), Walnut Ridge (36), Mifflin (35), Marion-Franklin (17), South (15), East (14), Briggs (12), Beechcroft (9), Africentric (5) and Columbus International (1).
The Stars had finished sixth in the City meet last season.
"It doesn't surprise me that we did better this year because we all put in a lot of hard work to improve," senior John Neutzling said. "We put everything we had into this meet and I'm proud of how we did as a team."
Neutzling placed fifth in the 3,200 (11:21.79) and sixth in the 1,600 (5:00.99) and teamed with Kevin Adams, Devante Brown and Jirequez Fair-Harris to place third in the 3,200 relay (8:41.22).
Adams won the 1,600 (4:46.28) and 3,200 (11:03.17) and Chisom Ifedi won the high jump (6-3).
"We knew Kevin was going to win both of his races, but Chisom was a nice surprise because he's a first-year track guy and he's only been doing the high jump for three weeks," coach Philip Farmer said. "We're young, so this was a great experience and we're already looking forward to what this team will be able to do here next year."
The Stars are competing in the Division II, district 1 meet this week at Westerville South. The meet began May 21 with field events, continued May 22 with running event preliminaries and concludes Saturday, May 25, with running event finals.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet May 30 and June 1 at Lexington.
"Our goal is to score more points and improve where our team finishes at district," said Farmer, whose team finished fifth (60) of 13 teams in the district 1 meet last year, behind champion Eastmoor (160). "Kevin wants to win both of his races at district, and I think Chisom has the potential to clear 6-4 there to make it to regional."
Season ends for boys tennis team
The boys tennis team struggled last week without its top singles player, junior Ben Oatney, and one of its second doubles players, junior Daniel Botti. Both players were out of town participating in a youth retreat.
The Stars lost to West 4-1 on May 15 to finish 9-2 in the City League and 10-3 overall. They canceled their league finale against Briggs because West (11-1) and Whetstone (12-0) had clinched berths in the City championship match.
"Missing our top guy hurt us against West," coach Barbara Stevenson said. "But I don't know if we would have beaten West even if Ben was there for us because West is a good team. We lost a close match to Whetstone (3-2 on April 22) and that's what cost us making it to the City final."
The Stars competed in the Division II sectional tournament May 16 and 18 at Columbus School for Girls.
The doubles team of sophomores Ben Bendolph and Weston Clarke and sophomore Martin Yzeiri (singles) won their opening matches before being eliminated, and the doubles team of senior Slobodan Zecevic and junior Lake Wilburn and junior Amad Hussain (singles) lost their opening matches.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Columbus Academy.
Zecevic originally was slated to play doubles at sectional with Oatney, who went 5-0 to place first at first singles in the City League tournament held April 30 at South and May 2 at Whetstone.
"Everyone had fun and enjoyed the experience of competing at sectional," Stevenson said.
"Overall, we had a really successful year, and Slobodan is the only senior we're losing, so I think we should be stronger next year."
Baseball team ousted from district tourney
The baseball team lost to 18th-seeded Buckeye Valley 7-1 in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 14 at home.
The 14th-seeded Stars, who committed five errors, finished 14-11.
Softball team falls in first round of district
The softball team lost to 13th-seeded Bexley 17-3 in five innings in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 13 at home.
The 12th-seeded Stars, who made four errors, finished 16-5.