Tag: Jeramy Stavlas

Centennial Varsity Boys’ Basketball Starts the Season Strong

Words: Jeramy Slavlas

Centennial High School’s Varsity basketball team has entered a new era after the departure of 12-year head coach Chad Hollwedel. Now, under the hands of coach Chris Sanders, the team looks to continue their legacy of a team built from integrity and winning nature. 

On Friday, December 6, Centennial fell to Marriotts Ridge 60-55, starting their season with a loss.  

Coming off a 13-11 season, the players, all coached by former JV coach Sanders in past years, plan to start their new beginning stronger than ever despite this initial loss. Sanders believes the team will be competing right away, as the players already know the team dynamics from their time on JV.

“There’s familiarity and comfort… and there’s some pressure to succeed,” Sanders said. 

The majority of the Varsity team has been together since their freshman year, building a strong team chemistry between the players. Senior Jeong Hwang, who has been a key part of the group, said, “we’ve had the same group of people for four years so you can treat us like family at this point.” 

Junior Bryson Baker, who played a large role on last year’s JV team, also believes the players’ close bond will lead them to success. “I think all that chemistry will lead us to a state championship,” Baker said. 

After a lackluster 2018-19 season in the players’ eyes, they look to get their revenge over their competitors this season. “We have a really bitter taste in our mouth, and we want to go win states this year,” Hwang said.

Baker believes “it’ll be a really smooth transition” between head coaches this season. 

Despite the loss of state champion coach Hollwedel, the team will continue to do things the “Centennial way,” according to Sanders. “I would be foolish to completely change the blueprint that coach Hollwedel developed. It was a winning blueprint.”

Not only does Sanders’ idea of the Centennial way include winning basketball games, it also means that the players perform their best off the court. From strong academics to help in the community, Centennial’s basketball program has developed a behavior over the last decade that Sanders has no intention to change.

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Centennial Cross Country Races at the State Championship

Words: Jeramy Stavlas

Photos contributed by: Matthew Bryman and Madelyn Mielke

After outstanding performances at the county and regional championships, the Centennial cross country teams raced at the 3A Maryland State Championship on Saturday, November 9. The boys’ team placed second, while the girls’ team placed fifth. 

Outstanding performances by freshman Antonio Camacho and junior Jake Cole, who placed sixth and seventh respectively, helped put the Eagles at the top of the 3A division, finishing second to River Hill High School. Joining Camacho and Cole, juniors Matthew Thomas and Andrew Bank both placed inside the top 20.

In the girls’ race, juniors Michelle Weaver and Katerina Talanova placed 24th and 25th respectively, to help the girls finish within the top five of the 20 schools who competed. 

“We did very good,” Camacho said. “We really stepped up. Last year, nobody expected us to be all the way up here.”

In accordance to the girls’ fifth-place finish, sophomore Madelyn Mielke thinks the team will continue to get better year by year. “I expect us to continue to move up the ranks,” she said.

Coaches Robert Slopek and Kevin McCoy believe the program’s legacy will live on in the coming years. “We’ve set the precedence that we want to be one of the top two teams in the state,” Slopek said.

Despite losing two seniors on the boys’ Varsity team and three on the girls’, McCoy does not think that filling the gaps will be an issue. “The program, it just reloads year in and year out.”

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Connor Carpenter: Civil Servant for Centennial and Beyond

Words: Jeramy Stavlas

For the past three winter and spring sports seasons at Centennial High School, senior Connor Carpenter has been seen on either the court or the field, playing big roles for the school’s basketball and lacrosse teams. His impact on Centennial’s sports teams goes far beyond his play on the field though, as his help with Centennial’s Allied Soccer team is much more meaningful to him than any goal he could ever score.

After playing for the JV Soccer team his first two years at Centennial, Carpenter was cut from the team his junior year. With nothing to do that fall, Carpenter contacted Allied Soccer coach John Spaide, Carpenter’s former JV lacrosse coach, and asked to start helping out with the team. Since then, Carpenter has spent his time working with the team and giving the players a more comfortable school experience. 

Serving as an assistant coach, Carpenter directs the players on the field, sets up the goals, and helps out with water.

“He’s been a great asset to the team,” said Spaide, who will miss him after he graduates. According to Spaide, Carpenter has exceeded all expectations set when he started to volunteer.

When Carpenter first started to help out, he didn’t think too much of it.

“As I was a part of it more, it was less about helping them, and more so just becoming friends,” Carpenter said. 

From greeting the players and giving them high fives in the hallway to staying after school every day for their practices and games, Carpenter has developed a closer friendship with the players than he ever thought he would. “I enjoy it, you know? I do it because I enjoy it.”

Carpenter takes tremendous pride in his friendship with the players, and it’s evident to the people around them that they share a special connection. “I definitely can tell his relationship with the students has grown tremendously over the last two years,” said Spaide.

As the players search for somebody to look up to in their lives, Carpenter fits a mentor role perfectly. His positive influence on the team goes far beyond soccer, and affects the way they act in their everyday lives.

Carpenter’s help with the team has shaped him as a person and created an experience so valuable to him that it will live on with him for a long time. “I help them, but really they help me. They give me more friends and make me happier, so it’s been more impactful on me than I feel like I’ve impacted them,” Carpenter said.

Along with his volunteer work for the Allied Soccer team, Carpenter volunteers at Grassroots Crisis Intervention once a week. At Grassroots, he plays outside with homeless kids and children of families with drug addictions and financial needs that live in the center.

Carpenter also serves as an intern in West Baltimore two to three times a week at a non-profit organization called Harlem Lacrosse, which focuses on developing children’s character and helping them stay in school. Carpenter’s work with Harlem Lacrosse is part of the Intern/Mentor program here at Centennial.

His experience at Grassroots and Harlem Lacrosse has been very different than his service within the school as it shows him more aspects of life than he had previously been exposed to. It’s reshaped his morals and helped him realize that he finds true joy in helping less fortunate people.

”It means so little to us because my life is very different, but for them it can mean everything. Just appreciating the little things from another person’s perspective,” he commented.

In his free time, Carpenter is almost always volunteering at the programs if he is not doing schoolwork or working on his college applications. The commitment and dedication he puts into his volunteering make it evident that he truly does care about the people he helps. 

According to Carpenter, his main focus in his volunteer work is purpose: doing his best to benefit other people, knowing he won’t gain anything out of it himself besides a good feeling in his heart. 

“I don’t do any of this [with] the expectation that something is going to be given back to me,” Carpenter said. 

In the future, Carpenter plans to continue volunteering for different organizations and charities throughout his life. He would like to attend college near a city so that he is able to stay active in volunteer work, and continue to help whatever community he is near.

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Centennial Cross Country Teams Look to Capture State Titles

Words: Jeramy Stavlas

Photo: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

Starting the season ranked as the 40th best cross country team in Milesplit Maryland’s annual pre-season rankings, Centennial’s boys’ team had clearly taken a step back from last year. With six of seven Varsity runners graduating, the 2018 division 3A state champion Eagles were supposed to have a rebuilding year. Coaches Kevin McCoy and Robert Slopek had a different mindset, however. Along with their competitive nature, they found a way to shape the team into a real contender for a back-to-back 3A state title.

The Eagles placed second at the county championship, with only River Hill High School beating them. River Hill is favored to win the state title according to season statistics and Milesplit Maryland’s current rankings, but Centennial’s scores have been closing in on River Hill every race this season as they look to capture a second straight state title.

Led by juniors Jake Cole and Andrew Bank, along with freshman Antonio Camacho, the Eagles have exceeded all expectations through hard work and dedication, according to Bank. Through an intense training plan, the Varsity team’s race times have improved by an average of 58 seconds since early September. 

Bank, who missed the majority of last season with an injury, was overlooked in team and individual rankings and has helped turn Centennial into a serious threat for the state championship.

“I’m coming in and running times that no one expected. It’s really great to have that happen to us and I’m looking forward to a nice and bright future for our team,” Bank said.

Cole finished third overall in the county championship, with Camacho and Bank placing 10th and 11th, respectively.

The girls’ team is also looking to bring home another state title, recently placing second in the county championship behind Howard High School. 

The boys’ and girls’ teams will go on to race in the regional championship on Thursday, October 31 at Centennial High School. The girls will race at 2:30 followed by the boys’ race at 3:30. 

Coach McCoy and Slopek have high expectations for the team in their last two races.

“We’re going to run as hard and best as we can and if we do that, everything else takes care of itself,” said McCoy. 

With the team reaching their fastest point with the season on the line, Slopek added, “I think we’re peaking at the right time.” 

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Centennial Golf Continues to be Overlooked

Words: Jeramy Stavlas

Photos: Noorie Kazmi

Walking around the hallways of Centennial High School during the fall sports season, a typical student will hear about the soccer team’s huge win, the football team’s latest game, or the field hockey highlights. One thing no student ever hears of though is the Centennial golf team’s outstanding performance. 

This season, the Eagles’ boys and girls teams have each won five of their six matches, only losing to the perennially good Marriotts Ridge team. Led by seniors Ty Sams and Morgan Taylor, the Eagles look to capture this year’s county championship. Not only are they winning their matches, the competition isn’t even close, highlighted by a 52-0 win over Long Reach by the girls, and an 80-29 win over Hammond by the boys. 

Centennial’s recent loss to Marriotts Ridge was upsetting for the Eagles as it was their biggest match of the season yet, but they will still go on to play in the county championship, seeking their revenge. According to seven-year head coach Stephen Lee, this is the team’s best chance to defeat Marriotts Ridge, who is competing for their sixteenth-straight county title. 

Lee believes this is the strongest team he’s had in all his years of coaching by far.

“We play as a team of four, so usually we have a good one and two, but the three and four aren’t quite there to support them. This year our number three and four and actually five are all right within that mix.”

Coach Lee believes the students’ minimal focus on the golf team is due to the school having a small team and a lack of understanding for the sport. He also says that due to a short season, it’s hard to gain attention from students as they’re more focused on starting school.

“We already had two matches before school even started,” Coach Lee said. “We’re wrapping our season up pretty soon, and everybody is just getting into school.”

Team captain Ty Sams has played for the team all four years of high school and has made the all-county second team twice. He is currently competing for his third appearance in his senior year. In that time, he has represented the Eagles at states twice. Sams says he’s not bothered by the lack of attention surrounding the golf team.

“It doesn’t really phase me much,” he commented. He is more focused on making sure he plays his best, whether he gets recognition or not. “Some of my friends, they mess around and say that golf isn’t a sport, but then I take them out to the course and they struggle to get the ball in the air, so it kind of humbles them after they see that.”

Over the past couple years, the team has slowly started to draw more interest as many underclassmen are joining the team and making a big impact early in their high school careers. Freshman Erin Jeong has stepped into a top-two role on the girls’ team this year, and quickly fit in with her new teammates.

“At first I was really nervous because I had never played before and it’s my first year of golf, but my team was really nice, so it was really fun this year,” Jeong said.

Jeong believes that if the team is able to continue their success through the end of the season, more students will hear about the team schoolwide, and some might decide they want to start playing for the team in future seasons. “If we get the county championship, we can maybe convince other students to play golf.”

With a bigger roster and a county championship, the Centennial Golf team could possibly start to get the recognition they deserve.

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