As the Centennial High School girls track and field team huddled together at the end of the City League meet, the Stars felt confident they had won based on the scoring updates they had been receiving during the event.
When it was announced that Eastmoor Academy had scored 93 points to win the title ahead of runner-up Centennial (85), the Stars let out a collective groan and a few members of the team fell to the ground in disbelief.
"When they announced the score, we were shocked and confused," coach Rhonda Reese said. "We outscored Eastmoor 15-0 in the 1,600 (meters) and we thought that gave us a (14-point) lead going into the final race (1,600 relay) based on the scores they had been announcing throughout the day.
"But apparently, they hadn't added in the (16) points that Eastmoor had scored in the shot put until after the 1,600 relay was over, even though the shot put was one of the first events that was finished here. When they added those points to Eastmoor's score it was enough to give them the victory."
Rounding out the scoring in the meet, which was held May 12 and 14, were Whetstone (80), Northland (75), Africentric (74), Columbus International (40), Columbus East (37.5), Walnut Ridge (29), Columbus South (23), Beechcroft (19), Columbus West (15), Independence (13.5), Marion-Franklin (12), Brookhaven (10), Briggs (10), Linden-McKinley (8) and host Mifflin (3).
Reese was disappointed the Stars fell short of their first league title since 2012, but proud that her team improved on last year's eighth-place finish.
"Our goal was to win, so this is a big disappointment," Reese said. "But we were a big underdog coming into this meet, and to come that close with only 11 girls scoring points for us is something to be proud of."
Kate Ryan helped score 32 points for the Stars, as she won both the 3,200 (12 minutes, 59.89 seconds) and 1,600 (5:36.7).
Ryan also joined Alexis Vance-Townsend, Jaleah Fair-Harris and Abbey Adelaide to finish second in the 3,200 relay (10:34.26) and teamed with Vance-Townsend, Obayemi Oreoluwa and Izzi Luaces to finish fifth in the 1,600 relay (4:20.65).
Jazille Williams won the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) and placed sixth in the 300 hurdles (51.73). Marissa Robertson finished second in the high jump (4-10) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (52.67). DeAuja Thompson finished second in the long jump (16-3/4).
"We did great in the 3,200 and high jump," Reese said. "Kate Ryan had a great all-round day, too. Eastmoor Academy dominated the field events and that was a lot to overcome."
The boys and girls teams are competing in the Division I, district 2 meet, which began May 20 and concludes Saturday, May 24, at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional Wednesday, May 28, and May 30 at Pickerington North.
"Our district is really stacked in all the events, so our goal is to move as many people as we can to regional," Reese said.
The boys team finished fifth (55) in the City meet behind Eastmoor (162), Independence (88), Northland (74) and East (56) and ahead of Walnut Ridge (39), Linden (38), Marion-Franklin (31), Whetstone (27), Briggs (19), Mifflin (11), West (9), International (6) and Brookhaven (4).
Kevin Adams won both the 3,200 (10:42.9) and 1,600 (4:36.49). Chisom Ifedi placed second in both the high jump (6-4) and long jump (21-9).
Softball team to battle Briggs
The softball team plays host to Briggs on Thursday, May 22, in the City championship game.
The Stars, who are 15-4 overall and finished 14-0 in the City-North Division, are seeking their first City title since 2011.
The Bruins, who were 15-11 overall and 13-0 in the City-South before playing Eastmoor on May 16, last won the City title in 2006. Briggs has reached the City final the past seven seasons only to lose each time.
"Both of us have good pitchers and good defenses, so it should be a low-scoring game," Centennial coach Malik Dean said. "Our girls are hungry for it, because my daughter (senior shortstop Alyah Dean) is our only player who was part of that championship team three years ago. Briggs has a good history of making it this far, but they haven't won it in a long time, so nerves could be a factor for them."
Leading the Stars' offense are Alyssa Dean (.535, 20 RBI, 22 runs), Emily Erenpreiss (.521, 22 RBI, 24 runs), Molly Brumfield (.509, 25 RBI, 29 runs), Aryn Brnusak (.481, 8 RBI, 16 runs), Lexi Thompson (.432, 29 RBI, 25 runs), Katie Conroy (.412, 13 RBI, 19 runs) and Natalie Thies (.404, 20 RBI, 13 runs).
In the circle, Thies is 13-3 with a 1.18 ERA, 124 strikeouts and 20 walks in 77 innings.
"We need to continue to pitch and play defense the way we have all season," coach Dean said. "We also need to consistently put the ball into play."
Briggs is led by junior pitchers Randi Chalfant and Loni Sammons, seniors Rebecca Morro (C), Sam Rainey (CF) and Sarah Sharfenaker (2B), junior Dez Merriman (SS) and sophomore Presley Rackham (LF).
"Centennial's a good team, but we played a brutal schedule against big schools to prepare ourselves for this challenge," Briggs coach Herb Sharfenaker said. "We need to be aggressive and swing the bats instead of falling behind in the count. We can't kick the ball around much because Centennial is the kind of team that will take advantage of any opportunity we give them."
In the Division II district tournament, the 10th-seeded Stars defeated 17th-seeded Beechcroft 12-10 in the first round May 12 at home.
"We took a 12-0 lead in the second inning and then we just stopped playing," coach Dean said. "We left runners on base every inning and we kicked the ball around and walked a lot of people to help them score 10 runs on four hits."
Centennial then lost at second-seeded Jonathan Alder 15-0 in five innings in the second round May 15. The Stars were outhit 17-2.
"We played well, but they were the superior team," coach Dean said.
Season ends for boys tennis team
The boys tennis team lost to Central Crossing 5-0 on May 13 to finish 6-4 overall.
Then in a Division I sectional tournament May 16 at Hilliard Davidson, Martin Yzeiri and Sean Perry each went 0-1 in singles and Amad Hussain and Edmond Shek went 0-1 in doubles to end the Stars' season.
Ben Bendolph and Sharif Moon had to default their doubles match because Moon wasn't available to play. Coach Barbara Stevenson said she couldn't find anyone to play a third singles position at sectional because the rest of her varsity players had other obligations.
Baseball team ousted from district tourney
The 16th-seeded baseball team fell to 17th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek 7-4 in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 13 at home.
The Stars finished 12-7.