Junior Kelvin Gilliam and senior Dayja Franklin were ready to throw their weights around when they represented the Centennial High School track and field program in the Division I regional meet this week.
Franklin (shot put) was the lone regional qualifier for the girls team and Gilliam (discus) was the only qualifier from the boys squad. Both competed in their regional events May 22 at Pickerington North, although the meet wraps up Friday, May 24, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to the state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Competing in the district 1 meet May 16 at Hilliard Darby, Gilliam unleashed a throw of 154 feet, 2 inches to win the title. Although he didn't near his season-best of 155-0, Gilliam dominated the field, as he had four throws better than any of the other 29 competitors. He also threw 148-2, 153-7 and 149-0, along with two fouls. Westerville Central's Devon Richardson posted a 147-6 to finish second.
"Kelvin has had an amazing season and he has taken his discus preparation to another level," boys coach Darrin Green said. "You can see it in how he practices and even in the middle of his throws, how he is processing for the next throw.
"He has plenty of positive support and good coaching behind him from our throws coach, Bobby Witcher. No doubt in my mind he will be at state this year."
Gilliam, a second-time regional qualifier, just missed advancing to regional in the shot put, placing fifth with a 46-3 3/4. Whitehall's Michael Bivens took the fourth and final regional spot with a 46-5 1/4.
Gilliam scored all of the team's 14 points, as the Stars placed 14th of 17 teams behind champion Pickerington Central (137).
Competing in district 2, Franklin scored all of the points (11) for the girls squad, which placed seventh of the 11 teams behind champion Gahanna (186).
She earned the fourth and final regional spot in the shot put with a 36-0 on May 14, topping fifth-place finisher Denara Mbouge of Licking Heights (35-5 1/2). Franklin, like Gilliam, nearly pulled off a double-qualifying effort, but she settled for fifth in the discus (101-5) as Mbouge was fourth (102-9).
"I am beyond thrilled for Dayja," girls coach Brittni White said. "She's been working hard and one good throw pushed her over. She's been much better the past two weeks after finally getting her throwing shoes.
"Being a senior, she's going out with a bang. I couldn't have asked for anything more from her. I just told her: 'Go out there and let it fly. It's your last chance.' And that's what she did."
Baseball team faces Braves in playoff
The baseball team battled Whetstone in a playoff game May 21 to determine which team would represent the City League-North Division in the City final.
The Stars and Braves shared the City-North title at 11-1.
The date of the City final had yet to be determined entering the week, but it was slated to be hosted by the City-South winner. Briggs and Eastmoor Academy tied for the City-South title and had their playoff game May 20 to determine which advanced to the final.
The Stars entered the playoff game at 13-10 overall after losing at ninth-seeded Granville 9-4 on May 16 in the second round of the Division II district tournament.
Centennial was seeded 13th and defeated 16th-seeded Independence 17-3 in the first round May 14 at home.
"I'm pretty happy with the way the kids are playing," coach Pat Nance said. "We didn't get run-ruled against a good Granville team that can really hit the ball and (Granville) actually had only one more hit (five) than we had (four). We scored in the top of the first inning to take the lead (1-0), but unfortunately our starting pitcher (Cameron Vasquez) struggled with his command.
"He's been great for us; he just had a rough outing. He walked five or six guys, threw over 40 pitches and got just two outs. (Granville) put up six runs in the first. The guys rallied around Cam and we played with (Granville) the rest of the way and never gave up."
Softball team shares title in City-North
The softball team earned a share of the City-North title by beating host Whetstone 8-2 on May 13, as both finished 13-1 in league play.
To determine which team represented the North in the City final May 21, the Stars and Braves again squared off in a playoff game May 15. The host Braves broke an 8-all tie with three runs in the sixth and won 11-8.
The Stars, who were seeded 10th for the Division II district tournament and lost to 11th-seeded Bexley 1-0 in the first round May 7 at home, finished 16-10 overall.
They lose three seniors in Jordan Fischer (CF), Ikera Ike (1B) and Gwen Moran (P/SS). Fischer batted .438 with 24 runs scored and 19 RBI, and Ike batted .371 with nine doubles and 26 RBI. Moran was 8-5 with 100 strikeouts and a 3.64 ERA in 73 1/3 innings.
"I think they were the best group of senior leaders that I've ever had," said coach Malik Dean, who completed his seventh season. "They're four-year starters who led and had fun and they'll all be hard to replace."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Shalin Ortega (OF/1B), Brina Rigsbee (OF/2B) and Izabell Segovia (3B), sophomores Etta Coale (OF), Emilee Flowers (3B) Giana Francescon (C) and Yazmine Segovia (OF) and freshmen Lauren Bailey (INF), Lauren Long (designated player), Toni Sfikas (2B/SS) and Kassy Stefanski (P).
Stefanski batted a team-best .442 with three home runs, 10 doubles and 26 RBI, Sfikas batted .406 with four triples, 32 runs and 23 RBI, Long batted .354 with five doubles and two triples, Rigsbee batted .350 with 24 runs, Francescon batted .315 and Izabell Segovia batted .310 with 24 runs.
In the circle, Stefanski was 8-6 with 149 strikeouts and a 1.10 ERA in 83 innings.
"We've got good pitching and hitting coming back, but the key for us will be how we field the ball," Dean said. "We struggled with that, especially early in the season and we got a little better. But we've got to get girls to win positions earlier next year so that we don't have different lineups every day. I want them to settle into their positions and get comfortable.
"I'd also like to develop another pitcher because I don't want one girl throwing every game. If we only have one, we'll cut back our non-league schedule."
Girls lacrosse team losing six seniors
The girls lacrosse team finished its fourth season 3-11, losing at second-seeded Columbus Academy 21-0 in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal May 16. The Stars were seeded 17th.
Two of the Stars' wins were against second-year Whetstone. Centennial beat the Braves 9-4 on March 26 and 12-2 on May 9. Their other win was 9-2 over Lima Senior on March 18.
The Stars lose seniors Tonesty Burt (midfielder), Lena Dwidari (defender), Makayla Held (attacker), Bella Hoffman (midfielder), Malikah Payne (defender/goalkeeper) and Vena Triggs (goalkeeper).
Among the expected returnees are juniors Areebah Khan (defender), Rhian Jones (midfielder) and Katie Selbe (midfielder), sophomores Trinity Brown (defender), Bella Moore (attacker) and Elena Rehg (attacker) and freshmen Batuol Alshamrookh (attacker), Leila Augenstein (defender), Foune Traore (attacker) and Camile Woods (defender/midfielder).