Category: Sports

Centennial JV Wrestling brings home a win, Varsity not as fortunate against Hammond

Words: Minah Mubasher

Photos: Zach Grable

The Centennial High School JV wrestling team started the season off great, defeating the Hammond Golden Bears 48-34 on Thursday, December 6. Unfortunately, Varsity was not as lucky, ending the night with a final losing score of 46-21.

    JV player, Ibaad Shaikh made excellent pins on his opponent and won his match. “I think we did better than last year,” said Ibaad.

    Varsity player, Jason Kraisser scored the first few points for the Varsity team. His teammate, Chris Lee, had all eyes in the audience on him in his multiple-round match against his opponent. The tension in the gym was high, but Lee came through and won his match. However, his teammates were not as fortunate.

    Both the Eagles and the Golden Bears worked very hard at last nights’ match, and we can be sure to expect more greatness. With this year’s wrestling team, Centennial is definitely going to be on its best game.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Boys’ Coach Al Dodds celebrates 40 years of coaching at the Cross Country Banquet

Words: Sarah Paz

On November 12, the Centennial Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country teams celebrated a successful season at their banquet. The season, which ended on November 10, resulted in a win for the Boys’ team and a third place finish for the Girls’ in the state meet.

The banquet started at 6:30pm and ended around 8:30pm. Runners and their families gathered to have a potluck dinner and recall the highlight of the seasons.

After the meal was finished, runners were called up by age and were awarded their certificates of participation. Coach Kevin McCoy reflected on the development of the seniors, saying that “every day was a joy, even though I didn’t act like it.”

But the wins weren’t the only thing that was celebrated. The announcement of the retirement of the beloved Boys’ Cross Country team coach Al Dodds led to much sadness from the members of the Boys’ team, especially for the seniors who had been coached by him the longest.

In his speech, Coach Dodds reflected on his more than 40 years he spent coaching, sharing the humorous moments of his career and the successes of his past teams.

After his speech, the Centennial Boys’ Cross Country team had speeches prepared for him, discussing the numerous times Coach Dodds had believed in them and impacted the way they are today. At the end, they presented him with a heartfelt gift.

Although he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren, Coach Dodds expressed the desire to continue coaching a few days a week for the Cross Country team.

Overall, the banquet was an event filled with joy and a bittersweet conclusion to a successful season.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Student Athletes Sign Off

Words: Delanie Tucker

Photos: Zach Grable

On Wednesday, November 13, seven of Centennial’s student athletes made their college intentions public.

Each of the seven had already committed to their college of choice, where they will go to continue their academic and athletic careers.

Although they all signed at the same time, none of the seven will attend the same college, and their sports of choice differ.

The students that signed are: Jackie Sterenberg to Frostburg State, Alison Betler to Towson University, Abby Doff to McDaniel College, Marissa Lagera to Monmouth, Courtney McVicker to Marshall University, Ashley Molz to American University, and Jason Kraisser to Campbell University.

Both McVicker and Molz will be attending college to play Division 1 soccer, as they played together on Varsity for Centennial.

“Committing was really rewarding for me because I grew up wanting to play collegiate soccer,” McVicker expressed. “It made me feel like all of the effort and training I had put in finally paid off.”

She continued this by stating how she decided on a college.

“Choosing Marshall was a simple decision. As cliche as it sounds, the first time I stepped on campus I had a ‘this is it’ moment; I knew it was where I wanted to go to school.”

Betler is one of the few that chose to stay local. She will attend Towson University, a school in Maryland, for cross country.

Lagera, attending Monmouth, will continue her athletic career, playing D1 lacrosse.

Lagera is very proud of her accomplishments, and thanks everyone that helped her achieve them.

“Having my friends, family, and coaches [with me] made it even more special, because they too have worked so hard for me to be able to have this and I loved being able to share my success with them.”

Another committed student was Doff, who will play collegiate field hockey.

Sterenberg, a volleyball player, is another that felt it was important to find a college that is relatively close to home.

“I was looking all up and down the east coast and something about Frostburg made me feel comfortable and at home,” Sterenberg commented. “I am most excited to contribute to the team as they compete division 2 for the first time and be part of a welcoming atmosphere.”

Lastly, Kraisser, the only male athlete, will be attending college for wrestling.

“Something I learned as an Eagle is to always persevere,” Doff expressed. “I will definitely be taking that with me through college.”

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Five Years in the Making: The Decline of Centennial Football

Words: Caleb McClatchey

It all began on a chilly November evening five years ago. Students filed out of Angelo Fortunato Memorial Stadium, celebrating Centennial’s 59-13 win over Hammond to close out the regular season. Seniors on the team like Chase Conley couldn’t help but feel bittersweet despite the blowout win; it was the last time they would put on a uniform and take the field as Eagles. They would finish their careers as members of one of the best Centennial football teams in recent memory, finishing with a 7-3 record for a program that managed only four wins total the previous two years. For the seniors, it was the end of something great. For the Centennial program, it was the beginning of something quite the opposite.

Half a decade has passed since that day. During that span, the Varsity football team has played in 39 games. Of those 39 games they have won exactly one; an away game, quite ironically, also against Hammond. The fact that they have not won a single home game in that span is baffling. How could a program go from being in playoff contention one year to having the worst record in the county over the next five years? There is obviously no clear answer to that question, but what is clear is that the story behind it is very unique.

A combination of depth, experience, and health were all key reasons for Centennial’s strong 2013 campaign. However, a senior-laden team meant that the lineup looked very different in 2014. In addition, two key returning players, Patrick McKinnis and Austin Kraisser, did not play. The Eagles had only four returning starters as a result, fewer than any other team in the county. This dramatic roster turnover did not bode well for Centennial. They were shutout in six games and outscored 452-44 on their way to a 0-10 record. Quickly, it became clear that the team’s hopes laid in its future, not its present. At a certain point, said McKinnis, “our team accepted the 2014 season as a re-development year for all the young talent from JV.”

Mason Smith, a sophomore on Varsity in 2014, was an example of the young talent McKinnis spoke of. In his sophomore year, player turnout was an issue due to the number of seniors on the team previously. To make matters worse, a dismal season only exacerbated the problem in 2015. Most students at Centennial did not have high expectations for the next year and were not interested or willing to try out for a team that had just played one of its worst seasons ever.  Although the players’ motivation to win didn’t decline, said Smith, interest in the team certainly did.

Unsurprisingly, the Eagles did not fare much better that year. Led by new head coach Carlos Dunmoodie, the team finished 0-10 for the second year in a row. The season played out very similarly to 2014, with injuries depleting an already small depth chart. Although it certainly did not reflect in the win column and was of no consolation to the players, it was evident that the talented young core from 2014 was gaining experience and beginning to develop. After being outscored by an average of 40.8 points per game in 2014, the Eagles cut that number to only 26.6 in 2015.

Despite the Eagles’ slight improvement, it was still clear that they were not a good football team. Over the past two seasons, the program had developed a reputation for being the worst team in the county, whether justified or not. As a result, attendance at home games dropped dramatically in 2014 and 2015. By the time the 2016 season came around, the team was not only on a mission to win their first game since 2013, but to win the respect of their peers, too.

The Eagles began the 2016 season with a 20 game losing streak hanging over their heads. It had been over 1,000 days- nearly three years-since that senior night win in 2013. However, the Eagles finally put their notorious streak to rest with a 30-21 season opening win over Hammond.

Eli Ross, a senior on the team, credited their improvement to the dedication of his fellow seniors. “We all had the same mindset, to work harder in every way” he said. According to Smith, what the team truly wanted was not to win one game or even ten, but to “bring back the tradition of a thriving football team” to Centennial.

In a sense, the team did exactly that. Centennial did not win any more games in 2016, finishing 1-9, but there was still something special about the 2016 season. Almost all of the Eagles’ games were relatively close; they only lost three games by more than 20 points. In addition to the team being more competitive than it had been in 2014 and 2015, the opening win generated a renewed level of excitement among students that remained strong throughout the season. Smith remembers how, even in a game against undefeated Howard, the stands were full of Centennial students.

Unfortunately, the energy and excitement from the 2016 season did not, or more accurately, could not, carry into 2017. In late August 2017, just one day before the Eagles were scheduled to play their first scrimmage, the Howard County Public School System announced that Centennial’s varsity football team had been disbanded for the year. The school system deemed that a lack of players- less than 20 showed up for the first few days of tryouts- posed a significant safety risk for the players who had come out.

The announcement made plenty of local, even national, headlines. It was the first time that a Howard County high school was without a football team – ever. The news hit most players hard, particularly seniors. Although the county allowed juniors to play on junior varsity given the extenuating circumstances, seniors ended up losing their entire season as a result of the disbandment.

Centennial’s lost 2017 season was the culmination of a downward trend in turnout that began in 2014. Ever since 2013, when the varsity team had 40-50 players on the team, the Eagle’s roster has been continually shrinking. By 2016, that number was down to 20-25. The Eagles, well aware of this disadvantage, had fought hard over the past three years to overcome it. Nevertheless, they often found out that no amount of heart and passion adequately substituted for the depth they lacked.

“Most of our players played the whole game,” Ross remembered, “ by the end … they were just gassed out.” Finally in 2017, with less than 20 players on the team, the Eagles’ depth was too small to overcome.

Heading into 2018, Centennial students wanted to make sure 2017 stayed an anomaly and didn’t become the norm. In February, Centennial hired Billy Martin as head coach of the varsity team, replacing Coach Dunmoodie. Returning players, combined with some new faces eager to revive the program, gave the Eagles just enough players for a team. Their roster, albeit only around 21 players, was bigger than it would have been in 2017. However, playing on such a small team made players prone to injuries. At one point, recalled junior Sam Baeq, “we had as low as 14 players capable of playing.” In fact, Centennial was forced to forfeit a game against Howard because too many players were injured.

In the games which the Eagles had enough healthy players this season, the results were completely lopsided. Centennial gave up a remarkable 50.7 points per game and didn’t score a single point all season. For the program, which hasn’t seen a winning season since 2013, it was a new low.

Now, five years after its last winning season, there are two ways to look at the Centennial football program. It is either rebuilding, slowly yet resiliently bringing back a competitive varsity team from nothing, or dying, valiantly fighting till its last breath in a battle which has already been lost. The latter view, while bleak, is one that must be at least considered.

There is no denying the heart of those who come out for the Centennial football team every year. Perhaps no other team in the county faces the level of adversity that they do. However, in a sport where depth is critical, there is no amount of effort and dedication which can overcome a lack of participation. Due to a large senior class, participation fell off after the 2013 season. Consequently, the team’s performance declined drastically, and with it, student interest as well. Ever since then, the team’s overall poor performance and low student interest have fed off each other. A bad season leads to lower turnout, which leads to another bad season, and so forth. While it is certainly possible that the program is able to break this cycle and become competitive again, there is also a distinct possibility that it does not. Ultimately, Centennial students, both current and future, will be the ones to decide how the story ends.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Wins Cross Country State Meet

Words: Sarah Paz

On Saturday, November 10, the Centennial Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country teams raced in MPSSAA 3A State Cross Country Championships.

The Centennial Boys’ Cross Country team won first place, ending with a score of 87, which is determined by adding the places of the first five runners. They crushed the second place team, Linganore High School by 39 points and the third place team Towson High School by 52 points.

Senior Justin Ziegler crossed the finish line in 17:21, earning 12th place. Just three seconds later, sophomore Jacob Cole earned 14th place, followed by seniors Chris Bieberich, David Riina, Jason Kraisser, Zachary Deming and Ryan Erle. Ziegler, Cole, Bieberich, Riina and Kraisser won a medal signifying that they placed in the top twenty five.

The Centennial Girls’ Cross Country team won third place, dominating other Howard County schools such as Atholton High School and Mount Hebron High School. Northern Calvert High School won first place.

The team consisted of seniors Alison Betler, Cora Blount, Christina Stavlas, Caroline Shimeall, junior Apoorva Ajith and sophomores Katerina Talanova and Michelle Weaver.

The Centennial Girls’ Cross Country team ran around 10am, while the Centennial boys ran around 11am. The race was on a sunny but cool morning, which is often considered as the ideal weather for running a successful race. Though Hereford’s course is known for being extremely difficult, all runners persevered and contributed to the success of both teams.

For the seniors, many are sad that this is their last cross country race and they celebrated their successes at the cross country banquet that occurred on November 12.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Football Has a Hopeful Banquet to Conclude Their Season

Words: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

Photos: Noelle Deal

The Centennial Football teams finished their season on Friday, November 9 with a hopeful banquet and potluck dinner.

As family, friends, and players gathered for a night filled with reflection, they were greeted with good food and a heartfelt speech from Varsity head coach Billy Martin.

Martin congratulated both teams for all of their hard work and dedication to the team. He also thanked the parents who have helped the team, from coming out to support to hosting team pasta parties.

Leaving his speech on a cheerful note, Martin shared some words of hope for next season.

After Martin’s speech, he called JV coach Chris Smith to the front to present certificates to all JV players. Coach Smith called each player up, saying a few words about each player and how they helped make the team better.

As JV players finished receiving awards, Martin returned to present varsity players with their varsity letter, participation pin, and a special captains pin for Junior Captain, Malik Chester.

Every player was greeted with sentimental words from Martin and a handshake from every coach, along with their awards.

Once every player had received their awards, the players went up to the front to present the coaches with awards. They thanked their coaches for helping them through the season.

The night was filled with lots of laughs as people shared jokes and memories to close the season.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.

Centennial Advances to Semi-Finals, Only to be Defeated By Atholton

Words & Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

On Monday, November 5, Centennial’s Varsity Volleyball team defeated their rival, Mt. Hebron High School. Not only was it a big win due to the opponent; it ensured that the Eagles will move on in playoffs.

Although the game was close, Centennial managed to take three of the five matches.

In the first set, Hebron pulled ahead early with a three point lead, accumulating a score of 6-3.

Centennial quickly made a comeback and managed to bring the score up to 7-6. Despite their efforts, though, Centennial could not seem to keep their lead.

The Eagles kept fighting, but were not able to regain their lead, losing the first set by a score of 25-16.

By the second set, Centennial brought more determination to the court and got a lead early in the set, 2-1. Centennial was able to keep their lead throughout most of the second set with only a few close calls.

The girls were able to use their lead to defeat Hebron in the second set with a victory of 26-24.

Trying to contain their excitement from the previous set, Centennial pulled ahead with a 4 point lead. During this match, the teams were constantly playing catch up.

Hebron was able to pull ahead late in the set with a six point lead, 18-12. Luckily, Centennial was able to make a comeback and win the set with a score of 25-23.

With Centennial winning two sets and Hebron only one, the teams entered the fourth set. During this set, Hebron was able to take the lead early, 7-2. Hebron maintained the lead throughout the set.

Even with kills from junior Sarah Allen and senior Jackie Sterenberg, Centennial could not catch up to Hebron, losing this set 25-21.

The stakes were high, and both teams had won two sets as they entered the final set.

Centennial was put on edge due to Hebron’s 4-0 early lead. Despite their nerves, the Eagles were able to pull off a win in the final set with a score of 15-8.

The Varsity Volleyball team prepared for the next round of playoffs on Wednesday, November 7, where they were defeated by Atholton High School in a 3 set match. The Eagles lost the final set 25-15, ending their season.

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.