The Centennial High School boys and girls track and field teams have been staying busy leading into the City League meet Tuesday, May 7, at Africentric.
The Stars were scheduled to compete in the Northland Relays on April 29 and in the Cougar Invitational at Beech-croft the following day. They also will compete in the East Tigers Invitational on Friday, May 3.
"We don't normally compete in the Cougar Invitational, but with so many young guys on both the boys and girls teams, this will give us a chance to get everyone some experience," boys coach Darrin Green said. "We'll probably send the younger guys to Beechcroft."
Youth has been the theme of the season for the boys and girls teams. Each squad has only three seniors, making this "a gain-experience year," Green said.
The boys placed fourth (48.5) behind champion Eastmoor Academy (93) in the 14-team Braves Invitational on April 24 at Whetstone.
Kelvin Gilliam won the discus (133 feet, 4 inches), Brandon Pugh was runner-up in the long jump (18-9) and Marquise Scott was third in the 100 meters (11.33 seconds). The 400 relay of Chemlahyah Yisrael, Luchene Davis, Scott and Gilliam was fourth (45.0).
Placing fifth were Justin Bridges in the 1,600 (5:04.64), Falusho Obayemi in the 300 hurdles (45.87) and the 3,200 relay of Bridges, Yisrael, Kaleb Turner and Jadon Kimbrough (8:58.02). The distance medley relay of Ayoub Benaaouinate, Brendan Magee, Brock Novara and Colin Murphy was sixth (13:01.53).
"Marquise had a decent day in the 100 and a very good second leg in the (400 relay) and that was just the second time that group has run together, so it's going to improve," Green said. "If they get their exchanges tighter, they definitely can lower that time.
"Justin Bridges ran well in his fourth (1,600) race, so he's doing really well. Falusho had some stutters in the 300 hurdles, but he's going to control that better as we move along. The (3,200 relay) group was running together for the first time and they have a lot of room for growth."
Green was pleased with the field events and thinks the Stars can score well there in the City meet.
"Kelvin should win the City discus again," Green said. "He's thrown over 150 (feet) several times this year. He's also had our best high jump at 6 feet and best shot put at over 42 (feet). Jamal Erby usually goes around 38 in the shot put.
"Pugh had his (personal record) with 18-9 in the long jump (in the Braves Invitational) and ... Marquise's best (in the long jump) is 20-2. Our field events are very strong and we're expecting them to score well (in the) City (meet)."
The girls team placed 10th (13) behind champion Watterson (96) in the Braves Invitational, as Shamara Bridges was runner-up in the shot put (30-6) and Ally Magee was sixth in the 300 hurdles (55.74).
"We have a very young team, so we're pretty much starting over this year and getting the new girls adjusted," coach Brittni White said. "This is all about teaching and learning and then next year they'll know what to do and we'll expect more from them. We're just working them hard and hoping they get stronger and faster.
"With us being on spring break, we also were a little shorthanded (in the Braves Invitational). Sky Harris and Lucy Bednar-Warren are returnees and I'm leaning on them to help the younger girls as well. Sky has been a leader since the first day of conditioning. Paige Williams is a freshman who has joined them on the (400 and 1,600 relays). Paige is doing very well."
Baseball team in hunt for North title
The baseball team was scheduled to play several important games early this week.
The Stars were 7-7 overall and 6-1 in the City-North Division heading into games April 29 against Northland, April 30 against Mifflin and May 1 against Beechcroft. The Mifflin game was preceded by the conclusion of the teams' first meeting April 8.
Those outcomes loomed large for the Stars in their hopes of at least sharing the title with league-leading Whetstone and forcing a playoff game to determine which team will represent the North in the City final May 16.
Centennial plays at Whetstone in its league finale Monday, May 6. The Stars lost to the Braves 8-0 on April 10.
"We can't have any hiccups at this stage in the league," coach Pat Nance said. "(Whetstone has) already beaten Northland twice and I'm not sure if anyone else in our division can challenge (Whetstone)."
The Stars played just once last week over spring break, beating Grandview 7-6 on April 23. An April 25 game against Westland was postponed because of bad weather.
"We got a nice win over Grandview after they beat us pretty good early in the year (10-3 on March 28)," Nance said. "Because it was spring break, we were without some guys, including our best hitter in C.J. Dean and our top pitcher statistically in Joe Theis."
Centennial scored three times in the top of the first and led 5-2 before the Bobcats scored three in the fifth to tie the score.
"I think because (Grandview) beat us the first time and they had lost just twice this year, they may have taken us for granted," Nance said. "But by the end of the third inning, I think they had all their starters back into the game at their regular positions. I don't know what they had available on the mound, but we saw four pitchers."
Cameron Vasquez started on the mound for Centennial and worked into the fifth. Logan Baldogo relieved and earned the victory after the Stars scored twice in the sixth and held on.
"We normally start a freshman (Blake Bennett) in right field, but three freshmen had good games against Grandview," Nance said. "Alec Proudfoot got the start in left field and Daniel Miller came in at third base and he made a great play in the seventh inning for us."
Softball team seeks to finish strong in North
When the softball team returned to the field April 29 at Northland, it marked the first time it had played a game since a 13-0 win over Linden-McKinley on April 17.
The Stars, who also played Mifflin on April 30 and Beechcroft on May 1, were scheduled to visit Whetstone on Monday, May 6, in what could determine the City-North champion and representative in the City final May 15.
But that will change, as Whetstone will begin Division I district tournament play May 6. The 10th-seeded Stars will play host to 11th-seeded Bexley in the first round of the Division II district tournament Tuesday, May 7, and the winner plays at seventh-seeded DeSales in the second round May 9.
Centennial was 12-8 overall and 9-1 in the league entering this week. It was looking to win out and at least force a playoff game with league-leading Whetstone, which was 9-0 entering the week and beat the Stars 7-6 on April 10.
The teams split their regular-season meetings the past two years and were forced to compete in a playoff game to determine the City-North representative in the City final. The Stars won both times, but lost the championship game to Eastmoor Academy.
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial baseball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*May 6 -- At Whetstone. The Stars lost to the Braves 8-0 on April 10.
May 7 -- Home vs. Westerville South
May 11 -- Home vs. Watterson
May 2 -- At Hartley
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- East Tigers Invitational
May 7 -- City League meet at Africentric