Another move forward in the running career of Dublin Jerome High School sophomore Elliott Cook took place June 2 during the Division I state boys track and field meet at Ohio State.
After placing 46th at the 2016 state cross country meet and improving to 43rd last fall, Cook earned all-state honors for the first time by placing fifth in the 1,600 meters in a program-record 4 minutes, 13.1 seconds.
The Celtics' only state qualifier, he edged Hilliard Davidson's Andrew Tighe (4:13.13) for fifth place to score four points as Jerome tied for 43rd behind champion Pickerington Central (58) as 69 teams scored.
Cook used the word "speechless" to describe how it felt to set the program record.
"I'm beyond excited," he said. "I came out here hoping to make the podium. My goal was 4:12. My first 800 was a lot faster than usual, but that's what I expected with it being at state, and I tried to finish strong the last 200."
Cook won the district 3 title in the 1,600 in 4:20.63 on May 19 at Hilliard Darby and followed with a third-place finish (4:14.3) at the regional meet held May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
"I've been training for this basically since December," Cook said. "I'm just going to be ready to go (for the fall). The biggest thing about this season is the experience for next year."
Cook was one of six regional qualifiers for the Celtics, who finished seventh (47.5) of 14 teams at district behind champion Olentangy Orange (133) and tied for 20th (8) at regional behind champion Pickerington Central (97) as 41 teams scored.
Also at regional, Cook joined seniors Anthony Alvarez, Frank Blair and Chris Viola on the 10th-place 1,600 relay (3:26.76), senior Alec Scheurle was seventh in the discus (140 feet, 4 inches) and junior Tony Gyimah was 13th in the shot put (45-7 1/4).
"Elliott is a tremendous worker," coach Kalvin McRae said. "He's good at multiple events. At one point, he had one of the top times in the area in the 400 and then at the (OCC-Cardinal Division) meet he went (4:18.04) in the mile and came back with a (1:58.09) in the 800. Our goal was to get him to the state meet and we decided to go with the mile. The beauty is that we'll have a plan and a strategy for him."
The Celtics finished fourth (98) in the league meet May 10 and 12 at Coffman, behind Hilliard Bradley (143.5), Darby (128.5) and Thomas Worthington (104.5) and ahead of Scioto (77.5), Worthington Kilbourne (42) and Delaware (35).
Others eligible to return include juniors Andrew McPherson (middle distance), Joseph Pinney (hurdles), David Reinhart (middle distance), Alex Smythe (sprints), Ross Stevenson (pole vault) and Chris Zhao (discus), sophomores Arjun Dhankani (middle distance), Blake Hara (sprints), Samuel Muhleman (hurdles) and Scott Sonnanstine (hurdles) and freshmen Theo Rousset (middle distance) and Ezra Strickland (sprints, high jump).
"Ezra Strickland is a freshman, but he won at the (league) meet in the high jump," McRae said. "Next year, Blake Hara will be in four events. We're looking forward to having Ross Stevenson back, and Alex Smythe is another sprinter. We're extremely happy with the progress. We got faster."
Several athletes to return in girls track
Of the seven athletes who scored points at the Division I, district 3 meet for the girls track and field team, four are eligible to return.
Jerome finished 12th (11) of 14 teams at district behind champion Pickerington North (109) as no athletes advanced to regional.
Senior Paige Elder placed fifth in the discus (100-6), senior Kathryn Willette was sixth in the 1,600 (5:26), senior Jessica Blake finished seventh in the 300 hurdles (48.06), sophomore Lauren Scheurle was eighth in the discus (95-1) and the 3,200 relay of Willette, junior Larkin Thomas, sophomore Madison Weigle and freshman Lauren Metzger placed eighth (10:02.47).
The Celtics finished fifth (63.5) in the OCC-Cardinal meet, behind Darby (146.5), Thomas (141), Scioto (116) and Delaware (93) and ahead of Kilbourne (39.5) and Bradley (31.5).
Others eligible to return include juniors Nicole Bowen (distance), Hayley Jacobs (sprints), Abigail Lenz (distance) and Lily Taggart (long jump), sophomores Nadia Coalter (sprints), Abigail Damewood (pole vault), Emily Oiler (sprints), Mackenzie Weeks (pole vault) and Manaka Yamauchi (hurdles) and freshman Kirsten Mitchell (sprints, middle distance).
Volleyball team again goes on tourney run
Each of the five players who were honored at either the league or regional levels are eligible to return for the boys volleyball team, which was a Division I regional runner-up for the second consecutive season.
Sophomore Tommy Poole (libero), who was named first-team all-OCC-Cardinal and second-team all-East Region, is expected to be the top returnee from a team that finished 18-6 overall.
"One thing we always hang our hat on is just always playing our hardest and bringing energy and effort," coach Phil Cagnoli said. "When we've struggled in the past, we seem to have a knack for long rallies and we always seem to win those points. That, in turn, feeds our energy and puts us in a spot where we get a lot of momentum."
Jerome went 10-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish second behind Darby (12-0) and ahead of Kilbourne (7-5), Bradley (5-7), Thomas (5-7), Scioto (3-9) and Delaware (0-12).
Seeded fifth, the Celtics opened the regional tournament with wins over 14th-seeded Orange 25-19, 27-25, 25-21 on May 19 and third-seeded Davidson 17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 on May 22 before falling to top-seeded Darby 25-22, 25-11, 25-10 in a regional final May 25.
Sophomore Leo Morales (opposite/setter) was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, junior Gage Utrup (outside hitter) was second-team all-league, junior Brendan Zimovan (middle hitter) was special mention all-league and freshman Tyler Nutting (outside hitter) was honorable mention all-league.
Cagnoli was named co-Coach of the Year in the league with Darby's Evan Bell.
Others eligible to return include junior Cam Rich (opposite) and sophomores Gavin Balak (middle hitter) and Nathan Chao (outside hitter/setter).
"I think we do a lot of things well," Cagnoli said. "We're really returning almost our entire team."