With a pair of seniors filling key roles last fall, the Centennial boys cross country team captured the City League championship.
Some of the program's other contributors are looking to lead the way this season for the Stars, whose boys and girls teams are co-coached by Adam Berry and Michael Klingler.
"We've had a decent summer of conditioning," Klingler said. "A core group of runners have put in a lot of miles through some hot days this summer and we know that will pay off this fall. We tell the kids that to run fast in September and October, you have to run consistently in June, July and August."
On Aug. 24 in the 20-team Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion, the Stars finished 16th (383) behind champion Fredericktown (112).
Junior Nick Loudner, who was the team's No. 2 runner in the City meet last season when he finished eighth in 18 minutes, 39.7 seconds, led the Stars in the opening meet with a 37th-place finish (18:40.2).
Junior Jeff Kimball was sixth (18:28.7) in last year's league meet and finished 62nd (19:14.6) on Aug. 24.
Senior Kleo Kapaj, juniors Jaylon Jackson and Jabe Miller and sophomore Colin Murphy also are key runners.
Kaleb Turner, a 2019 graduate, led the Stars in the Division I, district 1 meet last season with a 69th-place finish (19:01.9). Myles Martinez, who is playing baseball for Ohio Dominican and also was a standout basketball player, was another loss to graduation after competing in cross country for the first time last fall.
"We want to repeat as the City League champions and try to advance some of our top runners to the regionals," Klingler said.
Girls runners look to continue growth
The girls cross country team had only four competitors in the Newark Catholic Invitational, but Klingler is hopeful the Stars will have five runners at meets later this season.
Junior Jana Kimball, who was 13th (25:17.7) in last year's City meet, and classmate Alyssa Magee are the top returnees. Kimball was 103th (26:19.3) in the Newark Catholic Invitational.
Freshman Brooke Loudner turned in a 71st-place finish (24:28.2) in the opener. She is the sister of Nick Loudner, and Jana Kimball is the sister of Jeff Kimball.
Also looking to contribute is freshman Elena Miller.
The Stars didn't compete at the district level last season after Camilla Richards, a 2019 graduate, led the way in the league meet with an 11th-place finish (24:53.4).
"We really think that if some of our new girls can develop through the season, they too can be competitive in October," Klingler said.
Football team set to face Cowboys
After being shut out in last year's opener, the football team rebounded with a 53-6 victory over West in Week 2.
The rematch with the Cowboys is Friday, Sept. 6, at Centennial.
The Stars opened Aug. 29 by falling 21-20 at Grandview in a rematch of a game they lost 27-0 last season. Centennial has lost to the Bobcats in six consecutive seasons and in eight of the last nine matchups, with its only win coming in 2013.
"So far, I have for the most part been pretty pleased with the progress we've made," coach Donte Goosby said. "I'd like to, given the fact that we have so many guys coming back, start closer to where we finished last year, but young guys are young guys. We had to work ourselves back to getting into playing form. The three scrimmages we had allowed us to do that, but (we didn't play) a team like Grandview in any of those scrimmages, or a team that's at least as well-coached as they are."
While Centennial went 7-3 last year, West finished 1-9 in coach B.J. Queen's first season.
In last year's matchup, the Stars led 40-6 by halftime.
The first two kickoffs resulted in touchdowns, including the opening one by Marquese Scott that went for 70 yards, and Scott also had touchdown receptions of 43, 54 and 15 yards from Jaylen Gilbert.
Along with running back Luchene Davis, who rushed for two touchdowns against the Cowboys, the Stars again are expecting to have a high-powered offense this fall.
They scored their highest point total of last season against West but also scored more than 30 six other times.
Against Grandview, however, Gilbert suffered an injury that leaves his status uncertain and Scott was ejected and won't play against West.
The Cowboys scored a combined 21 points in their nine losses last season but are hoping an offensive line featuring seniors Nick Cook and Malakye Toles and sophomore Christian Mounts helps create more scoring punch.
"I know (Queen) came and scouted us (during the preseason), so he is taking the contest seriously and I have no reason to believe those guys (don't think) they can win the game," Goosby said.
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 7 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
*Sept. 10 -- City League match at TBA
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Cristo Rey
*Sept. 10 -- At Mifflin
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Cristo Rey
Sept. 10 -- At West Jefferson
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
Sept. 10 -- At West
*Sept. 5 -- At Whetstone
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Mifflin