Placing fifth in the 400 meters in the Division I girls state track and field meet June 2 wasn't exactly the finish Ruby Greenwood was seeking when she set off for Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Still, at the beginning of the season, the Centennial High School senior wasn't expecting to qualify for state.
"I really wasn't thinking about going to state when the season began, so I guess I should feel pretty good about taking fifth place," said Greenwood, who finished in 56.92 seconds. "But it wasn't my best time and I wanted a top-three finish, so that's a little disappointing."
However, Greenwood's mood changed later on when she was approached by several college coaches.
"When they found out that Ruby didn't have any real offers to run in college and that she was just a second-year runner, they basically circled and engulfed her," coach Brittni White said. "They realize that Ruby is a gem, a diamond in the rough that they can coach up. She is very willing to learn and put in the work and they can see potential in her.
"Wherever she goes, I'm going to be watching closely because I think she's just scratching the surface and will continue to get better. She's not one of those athletes who has already peaked or reached her max, so that's very exciting."
Greenwood advanced to state by finishing second (56.39) behind Pickerington Central's Jaydan Wood (53.85) in the regional that concluded May 25 at Pickerington North. Wood went on to win the state title in 54.18.
In her state preliminary race June 1, Greenwood was fourth in 56.71 and was the second central Ohio runner behind Wood (55.64). In the final, Greenwood was disappointed that she let Thomas Worthington's Jazzlynn Gaiters move past her to finish fourth (56.01).
"I think she was upset because she was second in the regional and fourth in the prelims and had beaten (Gaiters) a few times earlier this season," White said. "She wanted to be the area's second best behind a state champion."
As the Stars' lone state qualifier, Greenwood earned four points to give Centennial a tie for 44th behind champion Gahanna (51) as 64 teams scored.
Greenwood also was the Stars' lone competitor at regional, where Centennial tied for 21st (8) behind champion Gahanna (84) as 32 teams scored. In addition to competing in the 400, she also placed 10th in the 200 (25.88).
In the district 2 meet, which concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, Greenwood finished third in the 400 (58.03) and fourth in the 200 (27.45).
Also scoring for Centennial was senior Olivia Turner, who placed sixth in the 1,600 (5:35.01). The Stars finished 10th (14) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164).
"We're going to miss our seniors, Ruby and Olivia and Paris French, without a doubt," White said. "We're really going to need these young girls to step up, and we're definitely going to need to increase our numbers. We had a small team this season and then had a ton of injuries on top of that."
In the City League meet that concluded May 9 at Africentric, Turner won the 800 (2:26.68) and 1,600 (5:41.01) and was on the second-place 1,600 relay (4:14.82) with Greenwood, French and sophomore Lucy Bednar-Warren.
The Stars placed fourth (68.5) behind Northland (101), Whetstone (85) and Beechcroft (81) and ahead of Eastmoor Academy (64), East (45), Africentric (43), Walnut Ridge (36), Briggs (28), South (25), Mifflin (20), Independence (11), Linden-McKinley (5) and Marion-Franklin (3.5).
Greenwood won the 400 (58.6), was third in the 200 (25.68) and finished fourth in the 100 (12.67).
Sophomore Sky Harris finished fourth in the 100 hurdles (17.83) and fifth in the long jump (14 feet, 11 3/4 inches), junior Shamara Bridges tied for fourth in the shot put (31-1/2) and junior Dayja Franklin was sixth in the shot put (30-5). Franklin was seventh in the discus (75-3) and Bridges was eighth in the discus (73-3).
Boys team should return experience
While the boys team is losing five seniors, the Stars are expecting to have a more experienced squad next season.
Among the seniors was Coreion Watts, a Division I regional qualifier who finished 13th in the 400 (51.52). The team's other regional representative was sophomore Kelvin Gilliam, who finished 11th in the discus (124-0).
Both advanced to regional by placing in the top four in the district 3 meet. Gilliam was third in the discus (140-9) and Watts was fourth in the 400 (51.6) as the Stars placed 12th (15) of 14 teams behind champion Olentangy Orange (133).
Also at district, the 400 relay of sophomore Luchene Davis, junior Kamryn Simpson, senior Jordan Walker and sophomore Chemlahyah Yisrael was seventh (44.79), the 800 relay of Watts, Yisrael, Davis and Simpson was eighth (1:33.75) and the 1,600 relay of Yisrael, Davis, Watts and Walker was eighth (3:41.98).
"We've got a core of good young guys, but we need more depth, so we'll be working on building numbers for next season," coach Darrin Green said. "I know we have some talent at Centennial, we've just got to get those guys out there."
In the City meet, Gilliam won the discus (129-6) and placed fifth in the shot put (41-3 1/2) as the Stars finished sixth (41) behind Eastmoor (160), Northland (118), Walnut Ridge (65), Mifflin (55) and Whetstone (53) and ahead of East (38), Africentric (36), Marion-Franklin (25), Linden (12), Briggs (5), Beechcroft (4), South (2), Independence (1) and West (1).
Watts was third in the 400 (50.53) and seventh in the 200 (23.38). He also anchored the fifth-place 800 relay (1:34.09) behind Simpson, Davis and Walker.
Junior Kaleb Turner was sixth in the 1,600 (5:02.46) and seventh in the 3,200 (11:55.45). Also placing sixth were sophomore Falusho Obayemi in the 300 hurdles (44.23) and the 400 relay (45.13) of Davis, Simpson, Obayemi and Yisrael. Freshman Jeff Kimball was eighth in the 3,200 (11:57.25).