Entering the City League meet Oct. 9 at Whetstone, junior Kate Ryan thought the Centennial High School girls cross country team's five-year streak of league championships was in jeopardy.
Two of the Stars' top runners have been slowed by health issues, as Ryan said she has felt fatigued in several races and Emiyah Kelly has been recovering from a foot injury that prematurely ended her track and field season.
That didn't stop Centennial from turning in its best performance of the season when it mattered most, as the Stars scored 33 points to win the meet and capture their sixth consecutive City title ahead of Whetstone (41), Northland (97), Walnut Ridge (111), Africentric (117) and Eastmoor Academy (179).
"This is really exciting because we've been working for this all year and we weren't sure if we were going to beat Whetstone, because they have a really good team and we haven't always run so well," Ryan said.
Ryan finished first for the third consecutive year (20 minutes, 3 seconds), while Alexis Vance-Townsend (third, 21:25), Jaleah Fair-Harris (fourth, 21:25) and Kelly (sixth, 21:56) also earned first-team all-league honors. Aiyanna Howard (21st, 24:49) rounded out the Stars' scoring.
"It was nice to win this race again because I've won it before and I wanted to keep that (streak) going," Ryan said. "Jaleah and Alexis really made the difference for us by getting third and fourth. Without them finishing so well, we couldn't have won."
The Stars will compete in the Division I, district 3 meet Saturday, Oct. 19, at Watkins Memorial. The top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to the regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Last year, Centennial finished 11th (246) in the 14-team Division II district meet behind champion Granville (41) as Ryan was 10th (20:43.82) to qualify for regional, where she placed 20th (20:02.71).
"I'm hoping to qualify for regional again, but I don't know if I will because I've been really off this season, feeling fatigued a lot," Ryan said. "I'll just need to give it my best shot."
The boys team finished second (74) in the City meet behind Whetstone (33) and ahead of Eastmoor (93), Walnut Ridge (142), Columbus International (145), Mifflin (160), Africentric (163), Northland (182) and Marion-Franklin (258).
Kevin Adams won for the second consecutive year in 16:54 to earn first-team all-league honors, while Noah Davis (13th, 19:18) was second-team all-league.
Rounding out the Stars' scoring were Dallas Gordon (17th, 19:41), Callan Reese (20th, 19:48) and Brian May (24th, 20:15).
"This race was a lot more competitive this year so it feels better to win it because I had to push myself until there was only a half-mile left," Adams said.
The Stars will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet, where the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional.
Last year, Centennial finished ninth (221) in the 12-team Division II, district 1 meet behind champion Granville (16). Adams placed seventh (17:19.6) to advance to regional, where he finished 15th (16:52.75) to become the team's first state qualifier since 2003.
He was 31st of 150 runners at state in a personal-best 16:29.58.
"Every meet we compete in from this point on will take strength and determination because competing in Division I will be a bigger challenge," Adams said. "I just hope I can get my best time ever before the season is over."
Girls volleyball team captures league title
The girls volleyball team defeated host Briggs 25-22, 25-14, 25-15 in the City title match Oct. 12.
"The first game was really close with us hitting a lot of unforced errors, but then we ran our offense really well and we won the second and third games by big margins," coach Brenden Pence said. "This was huge for our seniors because it was their last chance to win the City title. Our setter, Sam Meanor, probably had her best match of the season when it came to distributing the ball.
"(Opposite hitter) Marissa Robertson, (outside hitter) Sierra Hawkins and (outside hitter) Symfhani Pitts had a lot of great swings, and our middle hitters, Alyssa Dean and Jada Briggs, had big days offensively and defensively. (Libero) Maddi Parker had a good day serving and (libero) Alyah Dean played out of her mind defensively."
The Stars, who won the City-North at 14-0, improved to 16-6 overall before playing host to 15th-seeded Marion-Franklin in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 15. The Stars were the 10th seed.
The winner plays host Saturday, Oct. 19, to 19th-seeded Johnstown in the second round, with that winner advancing to a district semifinal Oct. 24 to face top-seeded Hartley, 17th-seeded Whitehall or 20th-seeded Brookhaven at Worthington Christian Middle School.
"We need to find that middle ground between being relaxed and still maintaining our focus, because when we do that, we play great," Pence said.
Boys golf squad takes second in league
The boys golf team finished second (180) in the City tournament Oct. 9 at Airport, behind Whetstone (168) and ahead of Briggs (217), Columbus West (221), Walnut Ridge (221), Brookhaven (223), Northland (235), Eastmoor (237), South (250) and Independence (262).
Phil Pezzatta shot a 39 to finish second. He was first-team all-league.
Football team to face East
The football team lost to Brookhaven 54-7 on Oct. 11 to extend its losing streak to three games and drop to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the City-North.
The Bearcats rushed for 416 yards while improving to 5-2 and 4-0, as running back David Peoples rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns and running back Davonte Lewis rushed for 74 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Jeremy Johnson scored on a 5-yard run for the Stars.
Centennial will play host Friday, Oct. 18, to Columbus East, which has lost five in a row.
The Tigers lost to Beechcroft 21-14 in overtime Oct. 11 to fall to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the City-North.
Girls soccer squad falls in title game
The girls soccer team lost to Whetstone 7-0 in the City title game Oct. 10 at Crew Stadium.
Centennial was 8-7 overall before it opened the Division II district tournament Oct. 16 at home against 12th-seeded Licking Valley. The Stars were the 10th seed.
The winner advanced to play at sixth-seeded Big Walnut in the second round Saturday, Oct. 19, with that winner moving on to a semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23, at second-seeded Bloom-Carroll or at home against 18th-seeded Caledonia River Valley.
The district final is Oct. 26 at Gahanna.
The Stars concluded the regular season Oct. 7 with a 5-0 loss to Whetstone to finish 7-2 in the City League.
Boys soccer team opens postseason
The boys soccer team beat Whetstone 3-1 on Oct. 7 and tied Beechcroft at 3 on Oct. 8 to move to 7-3-5 overall and finish 7-0-5 in the City-North.
The 10th-seeded Stars opened the Division II district tournament Oct. 15 by playing host to 24th-seeded Columbus South.
The winner plays in the second round Thursday, Oct. 17, at ninth-seeded Hartley. If the Stars get past that game, they would play in a semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22, against top-seeded Watterson, 16th-seeded Buckeye Valley or 21st-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek at the home of the highest seed.
The district final is Oct. 26 at Westerville North.