The Dublin Jerome High School boys volleyball team knew what it was getting into when it faced top-seeded and perennial power Hilliard Darby in a Division I East Region final May 25 at Westerville Central.
That the fifth-seeded Celtics even had the opportunity to play that match, though, isn't a bad consolation prize for a program that continues to progress.
For the second consecutive season, Jerome finished as a regional runner-up, falling one step short of reaching the eight-team state tournament.
"We're right back where we were last year," coach Phil Cagnoli said. "It's not new to us, but it seems to be new to everybody else. I continue to receive messages of surprise from people. (Darby is) kind of one of the blue bloods and we're the new kid on the block, so we don't get the benefit of the doubt. ... But you don't get to 18-5 without doing a lot of things well."
The Celtics upset third-seeded Hilliard Davidson 17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 in a regional semifinal May 22 at Darby. Then, in the regional final, the host Panthers edged Jerome in the first set on their way to a 25-22, 25-11, 25-10 win.
The Celtics' final record of 18-5 included two other losses to Darby, which won state titles in 2013 and 2015 and was state runner-up last season.
Against Davidson, which was the OCC-Ohio Division champion, Jerome overcame a slow start.
"What we did better than (Davidson) was that we kept our heads up after every point," sophomore libero Tommy Poole said. "It's always a next-ball mentality even if we got a sweet kill. You earn the next point and win the match. I also think we executed pretty well. Our passing was pretty decent and our outsides were able to put it in.
"(Darby is) very technical. They're really tall and strong at the net. ... It's always exciting, every game on the court, whether it's postseason or (regular season). We're always ranked lower than we should be, but that makes us want to push more and drive to beat every team."
Cook advances to state track meet
A two-time state qualifier in cross country, sophomore Elliott Cook is looking forward to his first opportunity to compete in the Division I state track and field meet.
Cook placed third in the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 14.3 seconds) in the regional meet held May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North and will represent the Celtics at the state meet this weekend at Ohio State. His event is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Saturday, June 2.
"I'm so excited," Cook said. "I've been (to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium) the last two years to watch it and I just can't wait for the atmosphere."
Cook also competed at regional on the 1,600 relay that finished 10th (3:26.76). He was joined on the relay by seniors Anthony Alvarez, Frank Blair and Chris Viola.
Also scoring at regional for the boys team was senior Alec Scheurle, who placed seventh in the discus (140 feet, 4 inches) as Jerome scored eight points to tie for 20th behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
The Celtics' other regional representative was junior Tony Gyimah, who finished 13th in the shot put (45-7 1/4).
The girls team didn't have any competitors at regional.
Girls lacrosse season ends in regional semi
The girls lacrosse team finished 13-5 overall after losing 10-9 in overtime to third-seeded Thomas Worthington in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal, which began May 21 and was completed May 22 after being suspended because of bad weather.
The second-seeded Celtics opened the postseason with a 19-2 victory over 16th-seeded Marysville on May 14 and beat ninth-seeded Pickerington Central 17-7 in a regional quarterfinal May 18.
"We have a ton of young talent, but specifically a ton of freshmen," coach Kendall Gordon said. "That's one of the things that is really exciting for us moving forward. They're the future and who we're going to be looking to in years to come."
Gordon was named OCC Coach of the Year in her first season with a program that had just two seniors in Antavia Horne (defender) and Shayla Nguyen (attacker).
Juniors Gabby Rothermund (midfielder) and Kate Edwards (defender) are expected to be the top returnees for the Celtics, who went 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish ahead of Thomas (5-1), Worthington Kilbourne (4-2), Scioto (3-3), Darby (2-4), Hilliard Bradley (1-5) and Delaware (0-6).
Junior Mackenzie Potts (goalkeeper) was second-team all-league and sophomore Sydney Stone (midfielder) was honorable mention all-league.
Juniors Mandy Menning (attacker) and Mary Grace Zamary (defender), sophomore Emmy Peele (midfielder) and freshmen Katelyn Root (midfielder), Izzy Seikel (midfielder) and Anna Speeney (defender) also were key players.
Others eligible to return include juniors Claire Tzagournis (attacker), Payton Kessler (attacker) and Abby Kloss (defender), sophomores Taylor Bohl (attacker), Olivia Chandler (midfielder/defender), Hannah Lim (defender), Kelly Mamula (attacker), Katie McKibben (attacker) and Olivia Sivak (attacker) and freshmen Catie Berniger (attacker), Olivia Brooks (attacker), Jamie Cline (midfielder) and Ava Czechajewski (defender).
Boys lacrosse team to return large group
The boys lacrosse team is losing just five seniors after going 15-6 overall and placing second in the OCC-Cardinal.
Seniors Nick Gosnell (midfielder) and Kellen Posacki (attacker) both suffered injuries late in the season.
"We only have two seniors that (were) seeing the field (during the postseason) and I think we've had five freshman that have played a lot," coach Andy Asmo said.
The Celtics were seeded fourth for the Division I, Region 1 tournament and opened the postseason with wins over 15th-seeded Marysville (21-3 on May 15) and sixth-seeded Delaware (11-6 on May 18) before losing to top-seeded Coffman 19-6 in a regional semifinal May 22.
Jerome went 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish behind Kilbourne (6-0) and ahead of Delaware (4-2), Thomas (3-3), Darby (2-4), Bradley (1-5) and Scioto (0-6).
Senior attacker Chris Posacki (32 goals, 16 assists), Kellen Posacki (24 goals, 10 assists) and Gosnell (17 goals, 9 assists) were key players on offense and seniors Charlie Farmer and Grant Grytza were the team's top two goalies.
Chris Posacki, junior attacker Andrew Brim (38 goals, 34 assists) and junior defender Brandon Infante all were named first-team all-league.
Juniors Vince Comfort (long-stick midfielder) and Ray Prochko (midfielder) and sophomore Zach Dubois (defender) were second-team all-league, while junior defender J.P. Weaver was honorable mention all-league.
"Andrew Brim is probably our offensive leader and Brandon Infante is our defensive leader," Asmo said.
Juniors Mason Arnold (attacker), Reid McCrabb (attacker), Logan Miller (defender), Ryan Rhoades (midfielder) and Trey Welch (midfielder) and freshmen Will Ackert (long-stick midfielder), Carter Barco (midfielder), Ian Dean (midfielder), Jack Donahue (midfielder), Seth Martin (long-stick midfielder) and K.J. Robinette (defender) are others eligible to return.
Freshman Collin Tervo could be the favorite to take over at goalie next season.