Shawn Jacobsen saved his best for last.
Representing the Centennial High School boys swimming and diving team, the senior became the first swimmer in program history to score at state.
Jacobsen placed ninth in the 100-yard freestyle in the Division II state meet Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorioum in Canton, lowering his school record to 48.12 seconds.
"Knowing this was my last high school meet, I wanted to ultimately be at my very best," said Jacobsen, who also placed 17th in the 50 free (22.16) on Feb. 21. "That motivated me. I wanted to represent this program in a special way and being the first swimmer to score at state is special."
Jacobsen missed scoring in the 50 free by one spot. The top eight in the preliminaries compete in the championship final, and the next eight compete in the consolation final. The 16th qualifying time for the finals in the 50 free was 22.15.
Jacobsen also just missed the championship final in the 100 free, as the eighth time in the preliminaries was 48.37 and he finished in 48.45. His time in the consolation final would've placed sixth in the championship final.
"He just missed moving into the championship finals in the 100 free and just missed scoring in the 50 free, but he set school records and did the best he could," coach Leanne Rubadue said. "It was a great way for him to end a terrific season and terrific career."
Jacobsen totaled nine points for the Stars, who tied for 43rd behind champion Huntington Valley University (331) as 61 teams scored.
"It was very humbling to walk in here and be in this environment," Jacobsen said. "I've never experienced anything like this before."
Jacobsen was just the second swimmer in program history to compete at state. The other was Aaron Maharry, a 2013 graduate who was a three-time qualifier, advancing in the 100 breaststroke as a sophomore and junior and in the 50 free as a senior.
"This meant a lot for the program because it's something we've never done before," Rubadue said. "We were hoping that we'd also have a diver here, but (freshman) Alec Proudfoot just missed making it. He was fourth at district and the top three made it. But next year we'd like to see him here."
Jacobsen was district runner-up in both of his individual events Feb. 14 at Ohio State, finishing the 50 free in a school-record 21.85 and the 100 free in 48.64. He also was on the fifth-place 200 free relay (1:35.87) and seventh-place 200 medley relay (1:49.23) with senior Nathan Massey and juniors Kyle Juracich and Andrew Smith.
Among other expected returnees are junior Evan Massey, sophomores Jacob Barnes, Jeff Kimball, Jabe Miller and Dominic Rochards and freshman Aiden Szolosi.
The girls team had only divers Alexis Cox and Bella Moore competing in the Division I district meet after scoring just two points at sectional.
Among expected returnees are juniors Cox, Zoe Dickinson, Cada Dixon, Mary LaForrest and Nina Zimmerman, sophomores Moore, Joy Chambers and Amanda Varian and freshmen Anna Dixon, Olivia Hoffman and Maddie Nelson.
Two girls bowlers to roll at district
Senior Jeslin Deets and sophomore Kylie Crissinger-Acuna will represent the girls bowling team in the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.
Both advanced from the sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. Deets rolled a 495 three-game series to place 37th of 222 competitors and earn the ninth of 16 individual district-qualifying spots, and Crissinger-Acuna tied for 47th (480) and was the 12th individual qualifier.
At district, the top three individuals not on a qualifying team will advance to state March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The Stars placed 25th (2,749) of 37 teams at sectional, with the top 16 advancing to district. They were 162 pins shy of the final qualifier, Teays Valley (2,911).
Also competing in three games for the Stars was Izabelle Segovia (350). Yazmine Sego-via (231) and Sarah Clifton (219) competed in two games.
The boys finished 31st (3,175) of 42 teams and did not have an individual district qualifier. Competing in three games were Joe Thies (79th, 522), Nick Loudner (111th, 475) and A.J. Grumbling (118th, 466), while Giovanni Camp (141), Matt Campbell (140), Khmari Loveless (129) and Vincent Flinders (118) all rolled one game.
Boys basketball team begins postseason
The boys basketball team played host to 12th-seeded Linden-McKinley in the first round of the Division II district tournament Feb. 25.
The Stars, who were 11-10 and seeded 11th of 23 teams, lost to Linden twice in City League-North Division play this season, falling 61-56 on Jan. 11 and 62-46 on Feb. 5.
The winner plays at ninth-seeded Bexley on Saturday, March 2, in the second round, and that winner plays top-seeded South, 20th-seeded Marion-Franklin or 23rd-seeded Olentangy Berlin in a district semifinal Tuesday, March 5, at a neutral site.
The district final is March 9 at Ohio Dominican.
Girls basketball team shows improvement
The girls basketball team was eliminated from the Division II district tournament Feb. 19 when it lost at 17th-seeded Sparta Highland 45-28 in the first round.
Senior forward Shamara Bridges scored 12 points and junior forward Naa Dromo Korley added seven for the Stars, who were seeded 20th of 24 teams and finished 10-13 overall one year after compiling a 4-18 record.
Centennial went 7-7 in the City-North to place fourth behind champion Northland (14-0).
Bridges was one of four seniors on the roster. The others were guards Neveah Brown and Morgan Lawson and forward Akea Hunter.
Among others expected to return are juniors Jayana Harley (guard) and Tyler Johnson (forward), sophomore CiCi Dingess (forward) and freshmen Lauren Bailey (forward), Ayana Jackson (guard) and Z'niya Peterson (forward).
Wrestling season ends in sectional
A rough season for the wrestling team ended in a Division II sectional Feb. 23 at Licking Valley.
Only two Stars competed. Junior Kyle Hicks went 0-2 at 138 pounds and freshman Nate Foley went 0-2 at 170, as Centennial was not among the 22 teams that scored. London finished first (235.5).
"We entered five wrestlers, but (junior) Daniel Anoyke couldn't make it and two others were just no-shows, which is very disappointing," coach Brian Knisley said. "We also were without Flaviano (DiPaolo), who was in a car accident earlier in the week and has a concussion and shoulder injury. So we were originally going to take six."
DiPaolo was a two-time City placer and one of four seniors on the roster, and the second senior to have his season cut short because of an automobile accident. The other was heavyweight Oscar Espino, who was injured while visiting family in Mexico over the holiday break.
DiPaolo and Hicks both placed fourth in the City tournament Feb. 16 at Mifflin.
Also on the roster were junior Maurice Lemons, sophomore Ali Deswar and freshmen Matt Garduno and Sherad Goree.
"Flaviano was the only senior that finished the season because we lost a few others to grades," Knisley said. "Between the grades and other obstacles, it was a tough season. But we had a good core group that showed up and worked extremely hard in Flaviano, Kyle Hicks, Daniel Anoyke and Maurice Lemons. Flaviano was a four-year guy and two-time captain who was great in the (practice) room. He was basically my assistant coach and he will be missed."