The Centennial swimming and diving program hopes to build on what 2019 graduate Shawn Jacobsen accomplished last season.
Jacobsen was just the second swimmer to compete at state for the Stars after 2013 graduate Aaron Maharry did it three times. Jacobsen placed ninth in the 100-yard freestyle (school-record 48.12 seconds) and 17th in the 50 free (22.16) in Division II.
"Shawn is a big loss," fourth-year coach Leanne Rubadue said. "He owned over half the school records and he was the first person from Centennial to score points at the state meet in a swimming meet. We're hoping to be back at the state meet with (sophomore) Alec (Proudfoot) as a diver."
Jacobsen's effort helped the boys team finish 43rd at state after winning the City League championship.
The Stars, who opened with a 161-134 win over Whetstone and a 186-127 loss to Hilliard Davidson on Nov. 25 and participated in the Northridge Viking Splash on Dec. 7, have some experience coming back. However, eight of the 15 athletes on the roster are freshmen and sophomores.
"We're a really young team this year, (but we have) a lot that we can build on," senior Kyle Juracich said. "We've got a lot of good, young swimmers that are going to get better as they go. I think it's going to be a little bit of a building year for us, but at the end of the year, I think we're going to be strong."
Juracich and classmates Andrew Smith and Evan Massey all competed at district last season.
"We're looking for (Smith) to make it to districts, probably in the (200 individual medley) and the (100) backstroke," Rubadue said. "Evan Massey should be strong in the 500 (free). We're looking for him to qualify for the first time to districts in the 500. We're hoping to qualify at least three boys to districts again."
Rubadue thinks highly of sophomore Nick Rivers and freshman Khristian Thacker.
"(Thacker has) some experience," Rubadue said. "He's also trying diving, so we're excited to see what he can do. Nick Rivers was a strong freshman last year. We're looking for him to get a little bit stronger in the butterfly."
At district last year, Juracich competed in the 50 free and 100 back, Smith qualified in the 100 back and Massey competed in the 100 back and 200 IM.
The girls team did not have any swimmers reach district last year.
The Stars, who opened with a 149-126 win over Whetstone and a 146-133 loss to Davidson, return seniors Alexis Cox, Cada Dixon and Nina Zimmerman, juniors Amanda Varian and Bella Moore and sophomores Anna Dixon and Maddie Nelson.
Cox and Moore finished 33rd and 36th, respectively, in diving in the Division I district meet last season. The girls team will compete in Division II this season.
"What I've noticed about the team is that they're very coachable," third-year coach Michael Barnes said. "The first meet, I noticed that the things we worked on in practice translated into the events in the meets and that doesn't always happen. So it's nice to have kids that are listening in events, internalizing that stuff and then you're seeing it show up in competition."
Cada Dixon has used some of that coaching to improve in the breaststroke.
"I think that I've improved a lot in my breaststroke ... because my coach worked with me a lot on my technique and my form," she said. "I dropped so much time just last year. So this year, I'd really like to keep that progress up."
Wrestling team building foundation
The wrestling team is essentially building from the ground up.
The Stars, who finished ninth of nine teams in the Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament on Dec. 7 at DeSales, have four returnees in seniors Daniel Anoyke (heavyweight), Kyle Hicks (152 pounds) and Maurice Lemons (170) and sophomore Matt Guardino (145).
"We have three seniors, one junior and the rest are sophomores and freshmen," sixth-year coach Brian Knisley said. "So, 14 of them are brand-new kids that have never been on a wrestling mat before."
Freshman Joel Falles (106) and sophomore Oliver Koehler (113) each placed second, freshman Dellen Welcome (220) placed third and sophomore Alvin Forte (170) placed fourth at DeSales.
"Forte is a sophomore and is really strong," Knisley said. "What he lacks right now in his technique, he makes up in his strength. He's able to wrestle with Kyle, which is really promising. He has a really good future ahead of him."
Knisley knows how he will approach teaching his first-time wrestlers.
"You just got to take it by the basics," he said. "You know it's going to be a long season because you can't learn everything in two weeks to be ready for the first tournament. You know you're going to be adding a little more each week and the goal by the end of the season is that you've learned enough to start to put it all together and be able to wrestle in the City tournament."
Hicks is Centennial's only four-year wrestler.
"He's wrestled over 100 matches," Knisley said. "I have asked him to help during practices because he's so far in advance of everyone else. He's almost like a second coach."
Anoyke and Lemons both are in their third season.
"They're still pretty young themselves," Knisley said. "They're still learning and starting to put things together themselves. They have an idea, they have a game plan ... so they're past just the learning stages. We're expecting good things out of (Guardino). He wrestled a little bit last year ... and he picked it up pretty well."
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 13 -- At Whetstone
*Dec. 17 -- Home vs. Northland
*Dec. 13 -- Home vs. Whetstone
*Dec. 17 -- At Northland
Dec. 18 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 16 -- Beechcroft, Bexley, Grandview, Liberty Union, Oakstone Academy, Portsmouth and Wellington at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 14 -- Dan Gartner Duals at Whitehall