City League Roundup: Beechcroft, Centennial, Northland boys tennis squads again holding court

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Beechcroft's Amani Lyles competes at first singles during a 3-1 victory over Northland on April 12 at Woodward Park. Lyles defeated Davion Bridges 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

With students in Columbus City Schools still not inside buildings when tryouts for boys tennis were permitted to begin March 8, Centennial coach Barbara Stevenson wasn’t sure what to expect this spring. 

Having been through last fall when City League sports were delayed at least gave her experience in dealing with the uncertainty considering she’s also the Stars’ girls tennis coach. 

What Stevenson has seen to begin her 11th season as Centennial’s boys coach, though, has been positive attitudes and competitive play from her athletes. 

Although the Stars opened with a 5-0 loss March 29 to Watterson, one of their two returnees from the 2019 team, senior Max Wissman, battled the Eagles’ Nick Geelan before losing 6-3, 6-3. 

Centennial finished 9-2 overall in 2019, including going 4-0 in the City-North Division and beating West 4-1 in the City championship match. 

“I just have two returning players, and everybody else is new,” Stevenson said. “I didn’t even know if we’d have a team with COVID and not being able to be back in the building. It’s tough getting people. But my (first and second singles players) are good players and my No. 3 is playing every single day. He’s addicted. I think as far as in the City, we’re going to do great.” 

Wissman also played first singles in 2019. Senior Aiden Ly returns at second singles after also being in that position in 2019. 

Junior Ben Hendricks is at third singles, with junior Meena Kalil and sophomore Jalen Davis at first doubles and senior Aiden Gleckner and sophomore William Moore at second doubles. 

The City individual tournament will begin April 26 at Africentric and South and conclude April 28 at Africentric. 

Then on April 29, the Stars will face Whetstone at Antrim Park in a matchup that typically has major implications on which team will represent the City-North in the City championship match. 

The team that provided the Stars’ toughest competition in 2019 was Beechcroft, which finished second at 3-1 in the City-North while Whetstone went 2-2. 

The Cougars went 10-3 overall in 2019 when they had five seniors and two juniors in their lineup. 

There are six competitors on this year’s team, with junior Amani Lyles at first singles and junior Antwoin Reed Jr. at second singles. 

In a 3-1 win over Northland on April 12 that opened both team’s seasons, third singles wasn’t played. 

Beechcroft’s other players are senior Aaron Verma, junior Lord Boateng and sophomores Adeboye Adeagbo and Eric Mensah. 

“My hopes are to improve our players’ strokes,” said Daphne Hess, who has been the Cougars’ coach since 2010. “All of them are brand new to the sport this year. No one has ever played before, so our goal is to show up and play the best we can and improve our strokes by the end of the season.” 

In the win over Northland, Lyles beat sophomore Davion Bridges 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 at first singles, Reed lost to sophomore Dominic Fritche 6-4, 7-5 at second singles and Verma and Boateng beat sophomores Elijah Binford and Drew Roland 6-1, 6-2 at first doubles. 

Also in the Vikings’ program are junior Kevin White Jr. and sophomore Latrell Ucker. 

“I’m just happy these guys are out,” said Sean Taylor, who is in his sixth season as coach and also heads the Vikings’ boys basketball program. “We haven’t had a lot of practice and this is everybody’s first time holding a racket. A couple of them did it when they were younger. We’re trying to figure it out.” 

Junior Diamonte Salley is expected to be one of the top competitors this season for Eastmoor Academy.

Eastmoor excited for 

boys track season 

By the time his team competes in the City meet May 11 and 13 at Africentric, Eastmoor Academy boys track and field coach Jason Lewis believes it will be ready. 

The Warriors have won nine consecutive City championships and had enough returning athletes last spring before the season was canceled that they likely would have added to that number. 

One characteristic of past Eastmoor teams has been its strength in middle distance, and this season should be no different with the return of seniors Kalani Booker and Cameron Foster. 

They’re expected to be on the 1,600-meter relay, with Foster also being one of the team’s top sprinters. 

“We’ve won nine City titles in a row and not having last season hurt because I think we would have tied the City championship record,” said Lewis, who is in his 17th season. “We’re going to try to do it this year, but we’ll also have to get past Walnut Ridge and Whetstone’s got a nice team also.” 

Eastmoor opened by scoring 103 points to win the 14-team Northland Relays on March 27 as it finished first in eight field events. 

Senior Larenz Lacking, juniors Aaron Lawson, Devin Lloyd, Isaiah Pressley and Jaeden Valdez, sophomore Preston Davis and freshman Dominik Lloyd provide options in sprint and middle-distance relays. 

Junior Cheikh Ndiaye is expected to be an impact scorer in the shot put and discus, with sophomore Christian Monroe and junior Diamonte Salley in the long jump and Lacking in the high jump. 

“We’re doing really well,” Lewis said. “It’s funny because the adults kind of got used to the normalcy and the kids are restless. This winter, they were asking me, ‘When can we practice,’ blowing up my phone. I’ve got arguably my biggest team in terms of participation. Our relays are looking good. I’ve got a good mix of seniors and underclassmen.” 

Warriors girls, 

76ers boys shine 

A track meet involving multiple City programs took place April 9 with the East Alumni Relays. 

The Eastmoor girls scored 124 points to top a seven-team field that also included Independence (third, 72), East (fourth, 36) and Marion-Franklin (fifth, 25). Independence scored 100 points to lead an eight-team boys field that also included the host Tigers (second, 79), Northland (third, 74), Marion-Franklin (fourth, 66) and Eastmoor (sixth, 42). 

Kaidyn Lucas won the 100 (13.37 seconds), Brayonna Muse-Dixon won the 100 hurdles (15.93) and Alesha Allen won the discus (72 feet, 3 inches) to lead the Warriors girls, who also were first in the 400 relay (53.42) and 1,600 relay (4:52.07). 

Other girls champions included Independence’s Kapri Dawkins (200, 26.24) and its 800 sprint medley (1:57.2), and East’s Samiyah Wagoner (long jump, 14-9). 

In the boys meet for Independence, Kalidou Ba won the 100 (11.87), Ibrahima Dia won the 800 (2:09.87) and the 3,200 relay also finished first (9:29.02). 

Other boys champions included East’s Tyrese Taylor (200, 23.14) and its 400 relay (45.75) and 1,600 relay (3:47.61), and Marion-Franklin’s Dorsien Butler (high jump, 5-8), Quanaire Tatum (shot put, 41-4 3/4) and its 800 sprint medley (1:44.08). 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek