After winning just seven matches last season, the Dublin Jerome High School boys volleyball team made it all the way to a Division I East Region final this spring.
The seventh-seeded Celtics lost to top-seeded Hilliard Darby 25-12, 25-10, 25-12 on May 26 at Westerville Central to finish 13-11 overall. Darby advanced to a state quarterfinal Saturday, June 3, at Capital University.
"It means a lot," senior opposite Anes Shaltami said. "Our goal from the beginning of the season was to get to the regional final."
Shaltami was one of five seniors in the program, with Max Bennett (middle hitter), Logan Eberhardt (middle hitter) and Cole Wilson (outside hitter) among the others.
Jerome lost both of its matches in the Battle of Dublin on May 12 but opened the Division I East Region tournament with a 25-12, 23-25, 25-20, 26-24 win over sixth-seeded Gahanna on May 20. It then upset fifth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18 in a regional semifinal May 23.
"Technically, (the wins over Gahanna and Liberty) were upsets, but I was confident in our boys," coach Phil Cagnoli said. "We play a good, controlled brand of volleyball and our seniors come up big almost every time they step onto the court. We set out early on this year to reach the regional final, so this was a great step for us."
The Celtics finished third in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 8-4, behind Darby (12-0) and Scioto (10-2) and ahead of Hilliard Bradley (6-6), Worthington Kilbourne (4-8), Delaware (2-10) and Thomas Worthington (0-12).
Among those eligible to return are juniors Chris Clapp (defensive specialist), Chris Obert (outside hitter) and Nate Prenger (setter) and freshman Tommy Poole (libero).
Boys lacrosse team
ousted by Shamrocks
This season mirrored last year's in some ways for the boys lacrosse team.
In addition to losing in a regional semifinal to Coffman for the second consecutive season, the Celtics again finished 14-5 overall.
Unlike last spring when it was a league runner-up, Jerome's season featured a league title, as it went 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish ahead of Delaware (5-1), Kilbourne (4-2), Thomas (3-3), Scioto (2-4), Bradley (1-5) and Darby (0-6).
First-year coach Andy Asmo was named league Coach of the Year.
After opening the postseason with a 17-5 win over 14th-seeded Darby on May 17, the third-seeded Celtics defeated sixth-seeded St. Charles 14-11 on May 20 at home before losing to Coffman 11-10 in two overtimes in a regional semifinal May 24.
Jerome also lost to the Shamrocks 9-8 on April 8.
"I feel like when it was all said and done, (Coffman) made one more play (in the tournament game)," Asmo said. "They made one less mistake than we did. There was a lot of Dublin support, which was great to see."
The Celtics are losing 18 seniors, led by first-team all-league honorees Hunter Barco (attacker), Mitch Canaday (attacker), Michael Klass (faceoff specialist), Josh Miller (goalkeeper), Jackson Ozello (long-stick midfielder) and Connor Westerheide (midfielder).
Seniors Cade Apple (midfielder), Matt Arnold (defender), Michael Romanelli (midfielder) and Paxton Stern (attacker) all made second-team all-league, and senior Matt Sladoje (midfielder) was honorable mention all-league.
Among the expected returnees are sophomore Brandon Infante (defender), who made first-team all-league, as well as juniors Grant Grytza (goalie) and Chris Posacki (midfielder) and sophomores Andrew Brim (mid-fielder/attacker), Vince Comfort (long-stick midfielder) and Jack Moses (midfielder).
Boys track season
ends at regional
The boys track and field team had three competitors at the Division I regional May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North, but none advanced to state.
Junior Kellen Posacki placed sixth in the 3,200 meters (9 minutes, 29.68 seconds) to score three points as Jerome tied for 31st behind champion Thomas (73) as 37 teams scored.
Also competing were junior Alec Scheurle in the discus (10th, 130 feet, 4 inches) and junior Carson DeCarlo in the pole vault (no height).
Posacki also qualified for regional in the 1,600 but elected to only run the 3,200.
"Overall, I'm extremely proud of all three of the boys who made the regional," first-year coach Kalvin McRae said. "All three are juniors, so that's something to build on for next year."
Jerome finished fourth (75.5) at the OCC-Cardinal meet May 11 and 13 at Coffman, behind Thomas (192), Darby (155) and Bradley (85) and ahead of Delaware (51), Scioto (44.5) and Kilbourne (22).
The Celtics then scored 45 points to place sixth of 15 teams in the district 1 meet that concluded May 20, behind champion Olentangy Orange (124).
Others eligible to return include juniors Jeremy Coad (distance), Max Darrow (sprints), Cade Kacherski (sprints), Andrew Reese (distance), Alex Sanders (distance), Koh Takamasa (long jump) and Chris Viola (middle distance) and freshmen Elliott Cook (middle distance), Arjun Dhankani (middle distance) and Blake Hara (sprints).
Much of girls track
team set to return
There were just five seniors on the girls track and field team, which did not have any Division I regional qualifiers.
The Celtics scored 41 points in the OCC-Cardinal meet to finish seventh, behind Darby (189), Thomas (143), Scioto (91), Delaware (72), Bradley (51) and Kilbourne (44), and finished 11th (17) of 16 teams in the district 1 meet.
"I'm really happy with how the season went overall," coach Randi Beatty said. "We only have five seniors graduating, so the majority of the team is coming back next year and the middle school is developing athletes. One of the things we wanted to do this year was score more points in field events, and we did that. We had a lot of (personal records) this year."
Freshman Emily Oiler (sprints) and junior Paige Elder (discus) are among the expected returnees, along with juniors Jessica Blake (middle distance), Alex Dean (sprints), Raquel Ruck (sprints, middle distance) and Kat Willette (middle distance), sophomores Kenzie Bowers (sprints), Hayley Jacobs (sprints) and Emma Ryan (distance) and freshmen Nadia Colter (sprints) and Lauren Scheurle (throws).
Season ends for
girls lacrosse team
The girls lacrosse team lost to second-seeded Thomas Worthington 15-5 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal May 23 to finish 16-4 overall.
The third-seeded Celtics beat 15th-seeded Kettering Fairmont 26-3 on May 16 and sixth-seeded Pickerington Central 20-3 on May 19 to reach the semifinal.
Jerome also lost to Thomas 20-17 on May 11 for the OCC-Cardinal title.
The Celtics went 5-1 in the league to finish second, behind the Cardinals (6-0) and ahead of Kilbourne (4-2), Darby (3-3), Bradley (2-4), Scioto (1-5) and Delaware (0-6).
Jerome is losing just two seniors in attackers Hannah Rashidi and Cameron Finnegan, who scored 64 and 62 goals, respectively.
The Celtics also are losing coach Caroline Chao, who is stepping down after three seasons.
"I think they need to have some new blood, and maybe a younger perspective will be good for the team," Chao said. "I'm very proud of what we accomplished in the program, but I'm going to step back and reflect. This was the first time Jerome has ever won more than 11 games in a season, so we definitely did very, very well."
Freshman midfielder Isabel Francati, who led the offense with 68 goals and 15 assists, should be the top returnee next year.
Others eligible to return include juniors Isabel Heminger (midfielder) and Antavia Horne (defender) and sophomores Kate Edwards (defender), Mandy Menning (attacker), Mackenzie Potts (goalie), Gabby Rothermund (midfielder/attacker) and Mary Grace Zamary (mid-fielder/defender).