Luis Bolanos-Cruz had his fill of track and field just one week into his freshman season with the Central Crossing High School boys program.
Now a senior all-state thrower, Bolanos-Cruz nearly didn't have that designation after walking away from the sport for a week before being convinced by his family that it was too soon to make such a rash judgment.
Not only did Bolanos-Cruz return, but he fell in love with the throwing events. He placed sixth in the shot put in the Division I state meet last spring with a program-record throw of 57 feet, 5 inches.
"I wanted to focus on football because I had just started (track) and really didn't know much about it," said Bolanos-Cruz, who also owns the program record in the discus (161-8). "My dad (Huberto Bolanos-Cruz) talked me into coming back because it was the final year for my brother (2016 graduate Tony Bolanos-Cruz) and both of them thought I would like it. I went back and everything took off from there."
While his brother ran distance for the Comets, Bolanos-Cruz became a quick study in the throws.
"(My brother is) a little taller and looks a little more athletic," said Bolanos-Cruz, who lists himself as 5-foot-9 3/4 and 242 pounds.
He loved playing football but quickly discovered the benefits of throwing. His best efforts as a freshman were 37-5 in the shot put and 125-0 in the discus, but Bolanos-Cruz made monumental strides as a sophomore, throwing 52-2 in the shot put and 147-7 in the discus.
"Luis is not only naturally talented, but you can tell that he loves it," throws coach Sarah Hall said. "He has worked hard to get where he is today. He's put Central Crossing on the map in terms of throwing."
Bolanos-Cruz said the change was more than just becoming a technician in the throwing circle; it was diving into the events to keep his life from spinning out of control.
"I was going through some personal challenges that I don't want to get into, and (throwing) helped drive me," he said. "Instead of turning my energy into negative outlets, I was trying to focus on something positive. Every time I was stepping in the ring, I was putting my energy in a good place. It was a way to release stress that I was having.
"I wanted to find an outlet that let me be myself without being aggressive like in other sports. I like that you have to pay attention to the detail (of throwing). You have to take your time to do it, and it's helped me keep going in the right direction."
Bolanos-Cruz qualified for state the past two seasons. He finished 16th in the shot put (50-10) as a sophomore before qualifying in both events last spring. He was 14th in the discus (154-5) last season.
On April 12 in the Best of the South-West meet at Franklin Heights, Bolanos-Cruz won the discus (152-5) and shot put (51-11 1/2). He continues to work on the minute aspects of his technique.
"Since I was a little kid I was jittery, especially if things didn't go my way," said Bolanos-Cruz, who has a 3.85 GPA and also was a lineman for the football team. "Throwing taught me to be patient and work on something. Everything always came natural to me with football and school. With throwing, you have to slow down and pay attention to detail."
Hall said Bolanos-Cruz isn't only a good thrower, but a good teacher. He takes time to help his teammates to make the Comets a better team.
"Luis has definitely matured not only in his throwing but as a young man in general," Hall said. "He's very coachable and every year he becomes more of a dual coach. He gives me his feedback, I give him mine, and we bounce things off of each other. That's good because a lot of times people want everything from you (as a coach), but he's all about give-and-take. I love the feedback.
"I can't be at two places at once (at practice) and he's taken on a huge role helping out this year. We have a lot of new throwers and he's taken them under his wing to help them."
Bolanos-Cruz said his work ethic comes from the examples set by his father, who is a house painter, and his brother.
"My older brother has always pushed me and always wants me to be my best," he said. "My dad is a very hard worker, and I feel I have to live up to the standards that they have given me.
"I think of (my family) as an advantage. It's wonderful and gives me an edge to look out and see my dad and my family there (watching me throw). I want to make them proud of me."
Bolanos-Cruz plans to throw in college at Tiffin. Hall said he likely will compete in the shot put and hammer at the next level with his power-based physique.
Bolanos-Cruz said Tiffin is a good fit.
"I really like the way they pay attention to the little details of throwing," he said. "(Tiffin throws) coach (Ray) Robinson pushes his throwers and treats them like family. I'm used to close-knit communities, and I think it will be good for me."
Mann excels in South-West meet
Senior Abriana Mann won the long jump (15-4 1/2) and 300-meter hurdles (48.8 seconds) and was runner-up in the 100 (13.5) and 200 (28.1) to lead the girls track team in the Best of the South-West.
Kiya Conner won the shot put (32-10 1/4) and was second in the discus (84-7) as the Comets finished second (53) behind Grove City (113).
For the boys, who were third (58) behind champion Grove City (82), Sel Adehe was first in the 110 hurdles (15.8) and 300 hurdles (40.9) and Anthony Lowe tied Franklin Heights' Mamadu Nabe for first in the long jump (21-2 1/2).
Manny Codjoe won the 400 (53.8) and the 3,200 relay of Noah Reardon, Michael Fry, Joey Taylor and Matt Groom was second (9:12.2).
Ronevich tops baseball squad on mound
Tyler Ronevich has been the top pitcher for the baseball team, which was 5-5 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Hilliard Davidson on April 15.
Through 10 games, the junior Miami University commit was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, 17 strikeouts and 11 walks in 18 2/3 innings.
Austin Woods led the offense, batting .579 with five RBI, 11 runs, a .652 on-base percentage and four stolen bases. Nash Baker was hitting .364 with nine RBI and five runs, and Nathan Havens was batting .350 with five RBI and three runs. J.J. Carr was batting .344 with nine RBI and five runs.
Corum, Scott leading softball team at plate
Chloe Corum and Cheyenne Scott entered the week leading in most offensive categories for the softball team, which was 2-8 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Davidson on April 15.
Scott, a sophomore catcher, led the Comets in batting average (.529), on-base percentage (.568), runs (13), triples (3) and stolen bases (8) through 10 games.
Corum, a senior shortstop, led with six home runs and was batting .483 with 15 RBI and a .556 on-base percentage.
Megan Tittle was hitting .467 with five homers and a team-high 18 RBI, and Andi Rapp was batting .394 with 11 runs and seven stolen bases.