Darrin Green is excited about his Centennial High School boys track and field team this spring.
The fifth-year coach is even more optimistic about the future.
"This is the deepest and most well-rounded team I've had here," Green said. "We have a lot of new talent and balance and everything is running smooth. My job now is to keep these guys here and maybe get some of the sprinters I see in the hallways to get out here next year. The best part of it all is that we only have three seniors on the roster, so it's pretty exciting."
The seniors are Jamal Erby, D'Anthony Roberts and Kaleb Turner.
"Kaleb is our only four-year letterwinner and I look for him to have a very solid season and lead us in distance events," Green said. "Roberts is one of a lot of guys in middle distance for us and Jamal is a first-year guy in throws who should really help score with Kelvin Gilliam."
A junior, Gilliam was one of just two Division I regional qualifiers for the Stars last season. He finished 11th in the discus (124 feet) and 2018 graduate Coreion Watts was 13th in the 400 meters (51.52 seconds).
"Kelvin was a regional qualifier and City League champion in the discus, but he'll be doing more for us this year," Green said. "He's our best high jumper right now and we've also got him on the track."
Other key returnees are juniors Luchene Davis (sprints), Falusho Obayemi (hurdles/long jump) and Chemlahyah Yisrael (sprints) and sophomores Ayoub Benaaouinate (middle distance/distance) and Justin Bridges (middle distance).
"Chemlahyah is an extreme asset with his speed and he is in his third year," Green said. "He'll be on the (400 and 1,600 relays). Falusho's versatility will be very beneficial and he'll be a key in hurdles and long jump. Luchene is a strong young man and he'll be in the 100 and the (400 and 1,600 relays).
"Ayoub will be strong in the 800 and join Kaleb in the (1,600), and Justin is the hardest worker on this team and I expect him to come into his own in the 800."
Other newcomers include juniors Jadon Kimbrough (middle distance/hurdles) and Brendan Magee (sprints/discus) and sophomores Brandon Pugh (jumps/hurdles) and Marquise Scott (sprints/long jump).
Also expected to contribute are sophomores Aaron Bendolph (hurdles/relays) and Jeff Kimball (distance) and freshman Colin Murphy (distance).
In a home meet April 2, the 400 relay of Yisrael, Gilliam, Davis and Scott finished first (45.53) as the Stars placed third (94) behind Watterson (114.5) and Whetstone (102) and ahead of International (83.5) and Mifflin (64).
Finishing second were the 800 relay of Yisrael, Magee, Gilliam and Scott (1:37) and the 3,200 relay of Benaaouinate, Bridges, Roberts and Turner (9:26). Obayemi was second in the 300 hurdles (45.96) and third in the 110 hurdles (19.18), and Yisrael was second in the 100 (11.68).
In the Big Walnut Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays on April 6, Gilliam won the discus (150-7), was fifth in the high jump (5-6) and placed sixth in the shot put (42-1 1/2). Scott placed third in the long jump (20-2 1/2) and the 6,400 relay of Turner, Benaaouinate, Murphy and Bridges was fifth (22:03.17).
The Stars placed last (13) of 13 teams behind champion Westerville Central (76).
Girls track team lacking depth
The girls track team has a small roster and only a handful of experienced athletes have returned.
"We have a very, very young team and I'm still moving people around to see what they can do," third-year coach Brittni White said. "We'll have a better idea in about a week or so."
Seniors Shamara Bridges and Dayja Franklin and juniors Lucy Bednar-Warren and Sky Harris have returned after playing significant roles last season, when 2018 graduate Ruby Greenwood placed fifth in the 400 (56.92) in the Division I state meet. Greenwood also was the team's only regional qualifier.
"Between Ruby and Olivia Turner, we lost a lot of scoring to graduation and we're looking to have some others step up this year," White said. "Sky should lead us in sprints, long jump and maybe hurdles and Lucy has been very impressive in sprint relays, and we may also see her do well in middle distances.
"Shamara and Dayja are returning to lead us in throws and we're expecting to get points there as well."
Morayo Obayemi is the other senior on the roster.
Also on the team are juniors Fatima Fnu, Tyler Johnson, Aaliyah Williams and Venera Xhudo, sophomores Israa Abdelaziz, Kayvion Brown, Sophia Ferry, Esther Gilliam, Nayot Halie, Ally Magee and Leahna Smith and freshmen Imani Dean, Taleah Jordan, Mia Stout, Kimora Wilder, Paige Williams and Nancy Zanabria.
"Paige Williams is open to try any event and she shows a lot of potential and promise, especially in sprints and hurdles," White said. "She's very determined and willing."
The 400 relay of Fnu, Paige Williams, Ferry and Johnson finished first (56.12) and Magee was second in the 300 hurdles (56.0) in a home meet April 2, as the Stars finished third (41) behind Watterson (256.5) and Whetstone (50.5) and ahead of Mifflin (27) and International (12).
In the Golden Eagle Relays, the Stars finished last (7) of 11 teams behind champion Big Walnut (89.5). Franklin was fifth in the discus (91-3), as was the 400 shuttle hurdles relay (1:16.85) of Magee, Harris, Paige Williams and Johnson.
Softball team making too many mistakes
The softball team entered this week 5-6 overall and 5-0 in the City League-North Division.
The Stars played Mifflin on April 8 and Whetstone on April 10 in league games and also faced Fairfield Christian on April 9.
"We're playing a ton of games right now because of spring break being so late this year," coach Malik Dean said. "Our schedule is front-loaded, so we haven't been able to practice much and that's really what we need defensively. We're making a ton of errors. We made 20 errors in a doubleheader (April 6). We're allowing so many unearned runs because we're not making routine plays."
The Stars made 11 errors in a 13-12 loss to Wellington and nine more in a 14-4 loss to Worthington Christian.
Entering this week, Kassy Stefanski was 4-2 with a 0.88 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 32 innings.
"She strikes out a lot of batters and that kind of hides some defensive deficiencies," Dean said. "But we're talking about easy, routine plays that our girls aren't making. That's why we're just hanging out around .500. If they make an error, it almost always leads to a meltdown. I've had more girls crying this year than all the previous years combined."
Stefanski also has been an offensive leader, entering the week batting .474 with seven doubles, two home runs and 16 RBI. Toni Sfikas and Shalin Ortega shared the team lead in batting average (.563) and Sfikas had scored a team-high 12 runs. Jordan Fischer was hitting .435 and Ikera Ike was batting .429 with 16 RBI.
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 13 -- Home vs. Westland (DH)
*April 15 -- At East. The Stars beat the Tigers 24-2 on March 29.
*April 17 -- Home vs. Linden-McKinley. The Stars beat the Panthers 15-1 on April 1.
April 11 -- Home vs. Millersport
*April 12 -- Home vs. International. The Stars beat the Lions 13-0 on March 27.
April 13 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne (DH)
*April 15 -- At East. The Stars beat the Tigers 16-1 on March 29.
April 16 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 17 -- Home vs. Linden. The Stars beat the Panthers 16-0 on April 1.
April 11 -- Home vs. Hartley
April 15 -- City tournament at Africentric
April 16 -- Home vs. Walnut Ridge
April 17 -- City tournament at Africentric or South
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- Pat McMillin Invitational at Whitehall
April 13 -- Hank Smith Invitational at Heath
April 17 -- Home vs. West