Chisom Ifedi of the Centennial High School boys track and field team wasn't particularly good in the long jump last season.
Then, after he landed awkwardly and sprained his right wrist while competing in the event, he vowed his long-jumping days were over.
At the urging of his coaches, Ifedi reluctantly gave the long jump another try this season to help the Stars score points.
The junior never imagined he would go on to place second (21 feet, 8 3/4 inches) in the Division I regional meet held May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North, advancing to state Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7, at Ohio State by finishing in the top four.
"I tried the long jump a few times last year but I wasn't good at it at all, so I didn't enjoy doing it," said Ifedi, whose squad finished 18th (12 points) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (74) as 37 teams scored. "After I sprained my wrist long-jumping, I was fed up with it and I thought I'd never do it again. But when I wanted to try something new this year my coaches talked me into giving this another chance and I'm really glad I listened to them.
"I've been pretty consistent this year, but none of us did that well at regional because the track was kind of slanted uphill and that messed with our heads. I'm just really happy that I'm going to state because I never would have thought that would happen for me in this event."
Ifedi hopes he can go at least 23-0 at state. He placed second with a personal-best 22-7 in the district 2 meet held May 20, 21 and 24 at Hilliard Darby.
"I just want to beat the personal record I set at district by jumping 23 feet or better," he said. "I'll be happy if I can do that because I never thought I'd ever get this far in this event."
Ifedi also finished fifth in the high jump at regional, clearing a team-record 6-7. Kam-eron Smith of Pickerington Central and Mike Wood of Thomas Worthington cleared the same height in fewer attempts to finish third and fourth, respectively.
Ifedi, who placed sixth in the high jump (6-5) in the Division II state meet last season, learned firsthand that competing in Division I is more difficult.
"I can see the difference because there are a lot more good people competing in Division I," he said. "But it's been fun competing in the Division I meets this year, because it's nice to know you're going up against the best competition in the state."
Ifedi also won the high jump (6-5) at district to help the Stars finish 12th (22) behind champion Watkins Memorial (108) as 17 squads scored.
The top four placers in each district event qualified for regional. Senior Kevin Adams placed fifth in the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 28.25 seconds) to account for the rest of the Stars' scoring at district.
Williams ends season at regional
As the lone representative for the girls track team in the Division I regional, freshman Jazille Williams finished ninth in the high jump (5-0).
Centennial failed to score in the meet, which Pickerington Central won with 75 points as 41 teams scored.
The Stars finished 12th (8) in the district 2 meet behind champion Gahanna (150) as 15 teams scored.
Williams finished fourth in the high jump (5-2) and junior Izzi Luaces finished sixth in the long jump (16-3).
Centennial finished second (85) in the City League meet May 12 and 14 at Mifflin, behind Eastmoor Academy (93) and ahead of 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 Mifflin (3).
Junior Kate Ryan helped score 32 points for the Stars, as she won the 3,200 (12:59.89) and 1,600 (5:36.7). She also combined with freshmen 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, freshman Obayemi Oreoluwa and Luaces to finish fifth in the 1,600 relay (4:20.65).
Williams won the high jump (5-2) and placed sixth in the 300 hurdles (51.73).
Junior Marissa Robertson finished second in the high jump (4-10) and placed seventh in the 300 hurdles (52.67).
Sophomore DeAuja Thompson was second in the long jump (16-3/4).
"We don't lose anyone to graduation and we have a lot of freshmen who are going to get better, so I feel good about our future," coach Rhonda Reese said.