Kelvin Gilliam of the Centennial High School boys track and field team learned some things about himself in the final two weeks of the season.
Gilliam finished eighth in the discus in the Division I state meet June 1 at Ohio State, extending his personal record with a throw of 164 feet, 4 inches.
"I'm just starting to believe in myself now," the junior said. "I was just hoping to get to state, then I was just hoping to do my best. Well, I did my best and made it to the finals and finished eighth. I'm very excited and can't wait to bulk up some more before next year."
Gilliam became the first state qualifier for the boys team since 2015 by placing fourth with what at the time was his best effort (156-9) in the regional that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North.
"I thought I had a lot of fouls today, but part of that was me just trying to power it too much because the competition was so good," said Gilliam, who was the boys team's lone competitor at state and regional. "I wanted to get the school record (168-0), too. But I have great coaches who motivate me and push me, including coach (Darrin) Green who was up there cheering for me. I am excited for next year."
The previous boys athlete to compete at state for Centennial was Chisom Ifedi, who placed fourth in the high jump (6-8) in Division II in 2015 and 15th in the long jump (20-6 1/2) in Division I in 2014.
At state, Gilliam opened with a 159-4 before his best mark on his second attempt.
"It was a great day for Kelvin," said assistant coach Bobby Witcher, one of the team's two throwing coaches with Floyd Tatum. "I didn't find out until afterward that he was competing with bad shoes. But still, it was a phenomenal year for him, winning the City (League) title and district titles and getting to state. Plus, he's got another year. I want him to hit 175 (feet) next year and get into the top two at state."
Gilliam, a two-time regional qualifier, won the district 1 title with a 154-2 on May 16 at Hilliard Darby. He just missed advancing to regional in the shot put, placing fifth with a 46-3 3/4.
Gilliam scored all of the team's postseason points.
Centennial placed fifth (50) behind champion Eastmoor Academy (115) in the City meet that concluded May 9 at Africentric, as Gilliam won the discus (136-2) and was second in the shot put (46-9 1/4) and sophomore Marquise Scott was second in the 200 meters (22.46 seconds), third in the 100 (10.91) and fourth in the long jump (20-2 3/4).
Scott also was on the fifth-place 1,600 relay (3:36.56) with juniors Chemlahyah Yisrael, Jadon Kimbrough and Folusho Obayemi.
Jamal Erby, D'Anthony Roberts and Kaleb Turner were the only seniors on the roster.
Other expected returnees include juniors Luchene Davis and Brendan Magee and sophomores Ayoub Benaaouinate, Aaron Bendolph, Justin Bridges, Jeff Kimball and Brandon Pugh and freshman Colin Murphy.
The girls team loses seniors Shamara Bridges and Dayja Franklin, who was the squad's lone regional representative.
Competing in the shot put, Franklin finished 13th (31-4 1/2) at regional after placing fourth (36-0) in the district 2 meet at Darby. She also was fifth in the discus (101-5) at district to score all of the Stars' postseason points.
In the City meet, the girls team was ninth (27) behind champion Northland (140). Bridges was runner-up in the shot put (33-9) and fourth in the high jump (4-4), junior Sky Harris was third in the long jump (15-5 3/4), sophomore Ally Magee was fifth in the 300 hurdles (52.83) and the 1,600 relay of junior Lucy Bednar-Warren, freshman Paige Williams, Harris and freshman Imani Dean was sixth (4:33.52).
Among others expected to return are sophomores Kayvion Brown, Israa Abdelaziz and Sophia Ferry.
"We were a very young team and we lacked numbers, but the girls put in hard work and expect the returnees to come back and be even better next year," coach Brittni White said. "I'm hoping we have a bunch of new girls join us next year, whether they're freshmen or some others that make the decision to join us."