Junior Zoey Weil will attempt to bring home the first Division I state championship for the Centennial High School girls tennis team when she competes Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
In order to do that, she was working on her health this week after retiring from the district championship match against Pickerington North's Cassie Alcala on Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.
"I hurt my (lower) back two weeks ago when I was serving and I re-pulled it or tweaked it late in the first set (of the championship match) when I was running to my right and reached for the ball," said Weil, who won the first set 6-4 and struggled through a 6-1 loss in the second set before calling it a day. "The last time was a lot worse and I was off my feet for two days. I didn't want that to happen again, so it was best for me to stop the match."
Weil finished third at state last season after beating Alcala 6-2, 6-2 in the district final.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at district qualified for state.
Weil defeated Kathleen Jones of Olentangy 6-3, 6-1 in her semifinal Oct. 14.
The state qualifiers were settled after the first two district rounds Oct. 12 at Hilliard Bradley, where Zeil defeated Granville's Eleanor Male 6-1, 6-1 and Dublin Scioto's Nicole Santoso 6-0, 6-0.
"I wanted to go to state after winning the district title so I could maintain my confidence," Weil said. "The seeding at state doesn't really matter to me. I played well, so my confidence isn't shaken. The only thing I lost was the chance to win back-to-back district titles or even three in a row. But that's OK, especially if I reach my goal of winning at state. That's more important.
"I'm going to take a day or two off and get a massage and then get back at it and see how I feel."
"Zoey's hard work has really paid off this year," coach Barbara Stevenson said. "She has just improved so much since last year. It's hard to hit the ball deep over her and she covers the court well for a big girl."
The nearly 6-foot Weil laughed about that.
"I've grown an inch and a half in the past year and I'm 5-11 3/4," she said. "It seems like everyone notices that first. I hear that a lot."
Football team faces Mifflin in home finale
Quarterback Jaylen Gilbert and receiver Craig Burt connected four times for 94 yards and two touchdowns in the football team's 45-27 win over Linden-McKinley on Oct. 13.
The Stars should expect a tougher challenge Friday, Oct. 20, when they face Mifflin in their home finale.
The Punchers were projected to be third in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings this week after beating East 45-12 on Oct. 13 to improve to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the City League-North Division.
Mifflin also has a strong passing connection between quarterback Daveonn Logan and receiver Jeremiah Jackson. They hooked up nine times for 232 yards, including touchdowns of 89 and 60 yards, against East.
Logan was 9-for-12 passing for 273 yards and also led the team with 38 yards rushing. Jackson added a kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Punchers have scored at least 27 points in all but two games, a 14-8 loss to Beechcroft on Sept. 15 and a 20-0 win over Whetstone on Oct. 6.
Against Linden, Gilbert was 7-for-11 passing for 130 yards with touchdowns of 1 and 41 yards to Burt and an 11-yarder to Charles Dean. He also had a 9-yard touchdown run.
Running back Luchene Davis ran for 152 yards and a touchdown, and Khari Woods returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
The Stars led 21-19 at halftime before using a 21-0 third quarter to pull away.
Cross country teams set for postseason
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in Division I district meets Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watkins Memorial.
The boys will compete in a 17-team district 1 race, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 28 at Pickerington North. The girls will compete in an 18-team district 2 race, from which the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional.
The girls finished second (64 points) behind host Whetstone (64) and ahead of Northland (75), Eastmoor Academy (77), Walnut Ridge (93) and Africentric (125) in the City meet Oct. 11. The Stars had won eight consecutive City titles.
Chloe Flemming led Centennial, placing third in 21 minutes, 41.3 seconds. She was followed by Laren Reesman (sixth, 22:36.9), Camilla Richards (10th, 23:22.4), Gwen Moran (19th, 24:43.3) and Emily Boyer (32nd, 27:37.6). The Stars competed without senior Olivia Turner, who was league runner-up last season.
The boys finished third (61) behind Eastmoor (51) and Whetstone (56) and ahead of Walnut Ridge (87), Mifflin (128), Northland (128), Africentric (214), East (276), Independence (283), West (296), Beechcroft (296) and South (303).
Will Zimmerman (fourth, 17:58.8), Luke Zimmerman (seventh, 18:22.8) and Kaleb Turner (11th, 18:35.4) led the way, followed by Ben Klingler (15th, 18:48.8) and Jeff Kimball (24th, 20:10.4).
The top seven runners in each race earned first-team all-league. Those finishing eighth through 14th were second-team all-league.
Girls volleyball team opens postseason
The girls volleyball team lost to Northland 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-23 on Oct. 10 to close the regular season 13-6 overall and 11-3 in the City-North. The Stars tied the Vikings for second behind Whetstone (14-0) in the league standings.
The Stars were hoping to avenge their two regular-season losses to Whetstone in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 17. The Stars were seeded 38th and the host Braves were seeded 35th of 50 teams.
The winner plays at third-seeded DeSales in the second round Thursday, Oct. 19. That winner advances to a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Franklin Heights against 17th-seeded Upper Arlington, 22nd-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 23rd-seeded Westerville Central.
The Stars did not play DeSales, UA, Bradley or Central in the regular season.
The district final is Oct. 28 at Franklin Heights.
Boys soccer team begins tournament
The boys soccer team was 6-7-2 entering the Division II district tournament.
The Stars were seeded 11th of 27 teams and played host to 21st-seeded Caledonia River Valley in the first round Oct. 17. The winner advanced to the second round Saturday, Oct. 21, and plays fourth-seeded Columbus Academy or 26th-seeded Lakewood at the home of the higher seed.
The district semifinal is Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the home of the higher seed. Possible opponents are second-seeded Belxey, 14th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek and 19th-seeded London. The Stars beat London 3-0 on Aug. 31, but did not play Bexley or Amanda-Clearcreek in the regular season.
The district final is Oct. 28 at a neutral site to be determined.
Centennial finished 3-2-2 in the City-North after beating International 6-0 on Oct. 9 and closed the regular season by losing to Watterson 2-0 on Oct. 10.
Jordan Walker scored three goals against International. Also scoring were Emmanuel Ochieng, Matthew Jacobsen and Max Lee.