The latest postseason run redeemed what the Dublin Jerome boys soccer team saw as a less-than-thrilling regular season.
The Celtics, who lost to both Coffman (2-1 on Oct. 1) and Scioto (1-0 on Oct. 10) and tied Hilliard Bradley for fourth in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 3-3-1, reached a Division I district final for the 11th time in 16 seasons, including for the fifth consecutive season.
Seventh-seeded Jerome wasn't able to add to its seven district titles, though, as it lost to top-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 4-1 in a district final Oct. 26 at Olentangy Berlin to finish 12-6-1 overall.
"(After) all we've been through this season with the injuries and some of the games that we were expecting to do better in and lost, we were able to rise above and compete," coach Nate Maust said. "It kind of shows we can rise to the challenge. They wanted to achieve a lot more in the regular season, but it's nice to see us get back to a district final."
Junior midfielder Ethan Smythe scored against Kilbourne with one second remaining.
The Celtics, who had lost to Coffman 3-1 in a district final last season, are losing eight seniors.
"(I enjoy) just the atmosphere, honestly, because (district finals are) the final step before regionals and a lot of our students come out to support us," senior forward Young Mu Lee said.
Jerome beat ninth-seeded DeSales 3-2 (4-2 in penalty kicks) in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home, as senior forward Antony Yang and junior midfielder Crossen Schoch each scored a goal.
In the shootout, junior forward Simon Cole, senior defender Manny Morales, Lee and Yang scored.
Another of the team's top offensive players, senior forward Tyler Dring, was unable to participate in the shootout after getting hurt in overtime.
"Last year, we beat New Albany, which was undefeated at the time, in a shootout in a district semifinal, so we were confident going into another district semifinal that we could win it," Lee said. "The thing about this group is that we really don't have anyone who dislikes their teammates this year. We get along really well.
"Our defensive line is definitely one of the best in the state, from our goalie to our four defenders."
Morales was a part of a defense that also featured senior center backs Jacsen Luthy and Connor Moser as well as senior Vishal Kumar and junior Nicholas Campagni.
Junior goalkeeper Nitin Sanga and classmates Andrew Butcher (midfielder), Simon Cole (forward) and Devin Howard (midfielder) also were key contributors.
Others eligible to return include juniors Arvin Alam (midfielder), Jackson Beggs (midfielder), Charlie Kane (midfielder), Luke Laufenberg (defender) and Andew Rozsits (midfielder) and sophomore Kyle Chonko (goalie).
"Most of the guys that are here were here last year as well, because we had a big senior class graduate our sophomore year but not as many last year," Morales said.
Cook heading back to state meet
Senior Elliott Cook of the boys cross country team will make his fourth appearance at the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
He enters state following a second consecutive regional runner-up finish. He ran 15 minutes, 49.6 seconds at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North to finish behind Pickerington North's Matt Duvall (15:33.8).
Duvall also won last year's regional title, finishing in 15:54.6 while Cook ran 16:02.
"I'm excited to see what I can do," Cook said.
Cook helped the Celtics finish 13th (254) in the 16-team regional behind champion Gahanna (100) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state.
"At least for me, it was (a) pretty smooth (regional race) coming through the first mile," Cook said. "Once I got to that two-mile point, that's when it started getting tough. At that point, it was kind of a grind to see where you could finish."
Also for the Celtics, sophomore Carson Smith finished 59th (17:09.8), followed by freshman Joshua Razor (69th, 17:17.6), sophomores Rishikesh Makineni (73rd, 17:21.1) and David Hartman (95th, 17:42.5), junior Andrew Bartsch (108th, 18:02.7) and senior Jack Rozich (109th, 18:07).
Competing in the Division I girls regional meet was sophomore Ava DiMasi, who finished 59th (20:29.5).
She was the Celtics' No. 2 runner at regional last season when she ran 21:09.1 to place 66th.
"I felt pretty good about it," DiMasi said. "It was a little hard, but despite the weather and everything, I pushed through. I enjoyed being here. I just felt really motivated this year. I want cross country to be a really big part of my life, so I focused in and prioritized cross country."
Field hockey team improves record
After improving by one win to finish 7-10 last season, the field hockey team got over the .500 mark this season.
The 10th-seeded Celtics finished 9-8-1 following an 8-0 loss to second-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district semifinal Oct. 22. Jerome beat 14th-seeded Coffman 3-0 in the second round Oct. 15.
"(Beating Coffman) was amazing, and our goal this year was to end with a winning record, and we did it," coach Cara Wolfgram Evans said.
"Our strength and our stick skills really improved and that really helped us. We improved our passing skills tremendously."
Jerome is losing nine seniors, including forwards Jane Goodstein and Riley Morgan, both of whom scored a goal against Coffman.
Audrey Evans (defender), Ashtha Singh (goalie), Olivia Spencer (defender) and Yuna Takahashi (forward) were other key seniors.
Among the expected returnees are juniors Olivia Brooks (defender), Keely McClure (midfielder), Katelyn Root (midfielder), Vanessa Ruck (midfielder) and Hailey Watson (forward). Root also scored against the Shamrocks.
Others eligible to return include juniors Katie Bell (midfielder), Catie Berniger (midfielder), Janelle Emmett (defender), Maeve Gallagher (defender) and Mara Simmons (forward) and sophomores Kennedy Faller (midfielder) and Meryl LaRue (forward).
"(The seniors were) amazing people," Wolfgram Evans said.
"I'm really looking forward to having Katelyn Root and Olivia Brooks leading the team next year. I've got a (19-member) junior class and we've got a good number of freshmen coming up, too."