Senior Kellen Posacki and sophomore Elliott Cook used words like "honor" and "emotional" to describe how they felt about competing in the Division I state boys cross country meet Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
The Dublin Jerome High School runners took steps up from a year ago when they also competed at state as individuals.
Posacki placed 26th of 183 runners in 16 minutes, 6.3 seconds to miss earning all-Ohio honors by one spot and Cook finished 43rd (16:19.9).
Last season, Posacki took 33rd and Cook was 46th at state.
"I think they both were pleased overall," coach Dave Wadenstierna said. "Kellen would have liked to have finished in the top 25, but he's got to feel good about his race. It was a great run for him. With Elliott being only a sophomore, he'll be in a leadership position next year as a junior who's been to state twice."
The state finishes capped a season in which the Celtics earned a runner-up finish (61 points) in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Oct. 14, behind Thomas Worthington (35) and ahead of host Hilliard Darby (81), Scioto (83), Worthington Kilbourne (108), Hilliard Bradley (143) and Delaware (224).
Jerome finished third (91) in the 16-team district 3 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial behind Olentangy Liberty (49) and Thomas (87) as the top six moved on, and then placed seventh (195) in the 16-team regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North behind champion Hilliard Davidson (91) as the top five advanced to state.
At regional, Posacki placed 12th (16:12.9) and Cook was 15th (16:17.23) as the top 20 runners advanced.
Sophomore Arjun Dhankani was the team's No. 3 runner at regional, finishing 39th (16:52.28), followed by senior Alex Sanders (53rd, 17:01.06), freshman Kyle Von Cannon (108th, 17:56.76), junior Sahil Ambardekar (115th, 18:02.91) and senior Jeremy Coad (121st, 18:13.34).
"Obviously, we wanted to be one of the top five teams at the regional," Wadenstierna said. "But overall, a lot of great things happened this year."
Girls soccer season ousted by Patriots
The girls soccer team lost to Liberty 2-0 in a Division I regional final Nov. 4 at Scioto to finish 15-4-2 overall.
The game was scoreless at halftime before the Patriots' Madison Rapier and Abby Townsend scored goals early in the second half.
"We knew they'd be a tough opponent and I thought we'd be a little more successful, but that's why we play," coach Kelly Brothers said.
Jerome was seeded fourth in the district tournament and beat 42nd-seeded Mifflin 18-0 on Oct. 19, 16th-seeded Marysville 4-1 on Oct. 24 and sixth-seeded Olentangy 4-1 in a district final Oct. 28.
The Celtics then survived a shootout to beat Pickerington North 4-3 in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Olentangy. North was the district's top seed, but Jerome also beat the Panthers 3-1 on Oct. 12.
The Celtics won the OCC-Cardinal title, going 5-0-1 to finish ahead of Darby (5-1), Bradley (3-2-1), Thomas (2-3-1), Delaware and Scioto (both 1-3-2) and Kilbourne (0-5-1).
Jerome is losing seven seniors, led by midfielder Madison Burrier and forward Rachel Butler, both of whom were named first-team all-league, and goalkeeper Jess Walsh, who was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Emma Sears (forward) was named league Player of the Year. Juniors Riley Mullady (center back/midfielder), Bronwen Sears (mid-fielder/defender) and Sam Poptic (defender) made second-team all-league and junior Isabelle Francati (defender) was special mention all-league.
"This is the group (of seniors) I will be saddest to see go," Brothers said. "(We've) got a lot of great players coming back next year, but these seniors will be missed."
Boys soccer team falls to Shamrocks
The boys soccer team saw its season end with a 5-0 loss to Coffman in a Division I regional final Nov. 4 at Scioto.
A year ago, the Celtics lost to the Shamrocks 6-3 in a regional semifinal.
Jerome lost to Coffman 2-1 on Sept. 14, but in the rematch, the Celtics were unable to take advantage of a couple early scoring opportunities and the Shamrocks built a 2-0 lead by halftime.
"When they put a couple in, it's really hard to come back from that," coach Nate Maust said.
The Celtics finished 14-2-5 overall. Seeded third in the district tournament, they beat Dresden Tri-Valley 9-0 on Oct. 21, 16th-seeded Bradley 4-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 25 and eighth-seeded Olentangy 1-0 in a district final Oct. 28.
Jerome then defeated Westerville South 4-2 in a regional semifinal Nov. 1 at Westerville Central.
The Celtics won the OCC-Cardinal title, going 5-0-1 to finish ahead of Kilbourne (3-1-2), Bradley and Thomas (both 3-3), Darby (2-2-2), Delaware (2-3-1) and Scioto (0-6).
Jerome is losing nine seniors, including midfielder/forward Carter Patchett, midfielder Chris Dowling and goalie Erik McGwire. Patchett was league Player of the Year and Dowling and McGwire both made first-team all-league.
Seniors Trevor Johnson (defender), Blake Wyse (forward) and Zach Ziolo (forward) were second-team all-league.
Among the top returnees should be Jacson Luthy (defender), who was special mention all-league, and sophomore Connor Moser (defender), who was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return include juniors Alex Chou (midfielder), Luke Fassett (midfielder), Tre Herndon III (midfielder), Nathan Obert (defender) and Matthew Stein (forward).
"To be the last two teams in central Ohio and in this region is a feat in itself," Maust said.
"I'm really proud of this group of seniors. Jerome has a ton of potential this year and in the next couple years, and I think we've got to learn from it and move on."
Several key girls runners to return
Of the seven runners who competed for the girls cross country team in the Division I regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North, four are eligible to return.
Senior Jessica Blake finished 65th (20:30.97) at regional and was the team's No. 1 runner for much of the season.
Jerome finished 15th (374) at regional as the top five teams advanced to state.
"Jessica Blake stepped up and did a really good job for us," coach Megan Brar said. "Another of our seniors, Halle Bentley, also had a great (regional) race. It was exciting to be around this team. We had some freshmen step up and a couple sophomores. We'll miss our seniors."
Jerome placed fourth (94) in the OCC-Cardinal meet Oct. 14, behind Thomas (47), host Darby (74) and Bradley (88) and ahead of Kilbourne (101), Scioto (110) and Delaware (158).
Blake finished 21st (19:59.9) in the district 3 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial as the Celtics were fifth (192) of 18 teams, behind champion Davidson (25).
Sophomore Madison Weigle placed 73rd (20:39.23) at regional as the team's No. 2 runner.
The other regional competitors were senior Elizabeth Turley, junior Abby Lenz and freshman Lauren Metzger. Sophomore Nithya Warrier competed at district.
Other key runners included junior Nicole Bowen, sophomore Manaka Yamaucki and freshman Anna Speeney.