Luis Bolanos-Cruz usually seems unflappable when he is throwing the shot put and discus for the Central Crossing High School boys track and field team, but the junior was taken out of his comfort zone during Division I district competition.
Storms caused delays May 15 in the district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby. Despite the disruptions, Bolanos-Cruz was able to advance in both events to the regional meet May 23 and Friday, May 25, at Pickerington North, keeping alive his hopes of a return trip to state.
"I was throwing the discus first, and I expected to throw over 160 (feet), but I was thrown off by the rain delays," he said. "But that's my fault for not being better prepared."
Bolanos-Cruz finished fourth in the discus (153-10) but would go on to win the shot put (53-5). The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional, where the top four qualify for state June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
"I threw the discus first and then I was the first flight in shot put," Bolanos-Cruz said. "My winning (shot-put) throw was my first throw. I was really tired going into shot, but I felt like I needed to produce and I was able to do that."
Throws coach Sarah Hall noticed the effect of the delay on Bolanos-Cruz.
"You could tell it bothered him," she said. "Luis just was getting ready to throw his first throw (in the discus) and they stopped it (because of lightning). He was just getting ready to step in the ring.
"It was a good hour (delay) and he was warmed up and ready to go, but he wasn't quite as warmed up as he was previous to that. I definitely think it affected him a little bit."
It's the second trip to regional for Bolanos-Cruz. Last year, he finished fourth in the shot put (51-11 1/2) to qualify for state and placed sixth in the discus (142-4).
"Last year at regional I was really nervous because of the high level of competition," he said. "All the best throwers from central Ohio were there, so you know there are going to be big throws. I just was fortunate enough to throw what I needed to in order to get out.
"I knew I had a good chance to go to state last year, and I had to throw one of my best throws to get there. I started last season at 41 (feet) and maybe some people thought my getting there (to regional) was just good luck or something like that. I had to prove that I was a consistent 50-plus thrower."
Bolanos-Cruz competed in the discus May 23 and will compete in the shot put Friday, May 25.
"It's nice to have the events on different days," he said. "That way I can just concentrate on them one at a time instead of competing and warming up for both. That should help a lot."
The district meet concluded May 19. The boys finished 12th (20 points) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109).
Jerry Irwin was sixth in the 100 meters (11.53 seconds), and C.J. Patrick was seventh in the 800 (1:58.84).
The girls team finished 16th (1) in district 2 behind champion Gahanna (164). Zoey Calafatis, Rachel Sinyuk, Haylee Snodgrass and Mia Martinez-Cruz were eighth in the 3,200 relay (11:21.82).
Season ends too soon for softball team
Ninth-year softball coach Rona Dorsey never takes losing easily, but the second-seeded Comets' 3-0 loss to 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a Division I district semifinal May 14 at Pickerington Central was especially tough to take.
The Comets, who finished 19-5 overall, had aspirations of winning at least a district title with one of the top pitchers in the state -- senior Emily Gant -- in the circle.
"We could not get a timely hit," Dorsey said. "In a nutshell, we gave them a couple of extra outs, misplayed a couple of balls and didn't hit the way we needed to do."
Central Crossing had a first-round bye. Gant and sophomore Megan Tittle combined to no-hit 37th-seeded Westerville South in a 5-0 second-round victory May 9 at home.
In the OCC-Central Division, the Comets finished second (8-2) behind Marysville (10-0) and ahead of Upper Arlington (6-4), Dublin Coffman (4-6), Hilliard Davidson (2-8) and Westland (0-10).
Gant, who was district Player of the Year and first-team all-league, led the Comets in both pitching and hitting. In 135 innings in the circle, she was 17-4 with 316 strikeouts and 0.52 ERA. She allowed only 12 walks and 46 hits and held opponents to a .100 batting average.
As a hitter, the Boston University signee batted .488 with one home run, eight RBI, 29 runs, six doubles, five triples, 13 stolen bases and a .567 on-base percentage.
The other two seniors were outfielder Brianna Garcia (.231, 5 RBI, 7 runs) and catcher Hannah Scott (.295, 1 homer, 22 RBI).
"All three of them meant so much to the team," Dorsey said. "Emily did so much work behind the scenes to do what she could to get better. Hannah was always positive and was a great leader for us on the field at catcher as well as off the field. Brianna was scrappy and had an energizing (and) great attitude and she worked hard for everything she did for us."
Junior shortstop Chloe Corum (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) and freshman outfielder Cheyenne Scott (second-team all-district) are the top players expected to return. Corum hit .342 and led the Comets in homers (4) and RBI (20) and scored 17 runs. Cheyenne Scott batted .424 with one homer, 19 RBI, 21 runs, five triples and 14 stolen bases.
Tittle (special mention all-league) was 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA, 20 strikeouts and 10 walks in 20 1/3 innings. She also hit .333 with eight RBI and five runs.
Sophomore third baseman Haley Maher (honorable mention all-league) batted .329 with 14 RBI and 11 runs, and junior second baseman Andi Rapp (second-team all-league) hit .278 with six RBI, 21 runs and nine stolen bases.
"After (the loss to Reynoldsburg), I told them we had the best pitcher in the state and that Emily is gone," Dorsey said. "I said that we needed someone to step in for her, but what we really need is to get some hitters. We have to improve at the plate in the offseason because you have to hit the ball to win."
Baseball team expects strong nucleus back
For the second consecutive season, the baseball team fell to Olentangy Orange in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The 35th-seeded Comets lost at 23rd-seeded Orange 9-0 on May 9 to finish 9-13 overall. They entered the contest on a five-game winning streak.
Last season, Central Crossing lost to the Pioneers 5-1.
"When we put together the five-game winning streak, we did a lot of things we didn't do against Orange," 16th-year coach Scott Todd said. "We were throwing strikes, we weren't committing errors, we were executing and we were getting big hits. When we don't do a couple of those things, it's tough for us to win."
The Comets opened the postseason May 7 with a 2-0 win at 25th-seeded Thomas Worthington. Sophomore Tyler Ronevich threw a one-hitter and sophomore Drew DeYarmon hit a solo home run.
Central Crossing finished fifth (5-10) in the OCC-Central behind Davidson (13-2), UA (10-5), Marysville (9-6) and Coffman (8-7) and ahead of Westland (0-15).
The Comets had only two seniors in designated hitter Ben Bohne and outfielder Mo Bostard, so they expect to return most of their lineup.
Junior Austin Woods (3B/OF/P; first-team all-district and all-league) led the Comets in batting average (.405), RBI (18) and stolen bases (12) and tied for the lead in runs with 17. On the mound, he was 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 16 walks in 21 innings.
Sophomore Matt Reed (2B; second-team all-league) batted .325 with seven RBI and 16 runs, and DeYarmon (1B) hit .319 with one homer, 15 RBI and 13 runs.
Junior J.J. Carr (3B/P; honorable mention all-league) batted .317 with 16 RBI and 12 runs. He led the Comets on the mound, going 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 28 walks in 41 innings.
Ronevich (P/1B/3B; honorable mention all-district and special mention all-league) was 2-5 with a 3.74 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 15 walks in 43 innings.
Junior Nash Baker (OF) hit .283 with eight RBI and nine runs, and junior Mannee Wells (SS) batted .273 with 10 RBI and 17 runs.
"We like what we have coming back," Todd said. "We had freshmen and sophomores from last year get better and continue to grow for this year and we expect that to continue. We should have a lot of three- and four-year varsity players next year."