Boys runners reach regional
Coach Robert Taylor enjoys promoting his Whitehall-Yearling High School cross country program.
After the boys squad finished second in the Division II, district 1 race Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial to earn the program's first regional berth as a team since 2002, Taylor said he would recognize the Rams' achievement throughout the week at school.
"I hope it's going to be inspiring for the school," he said.
"We're getting more support, more awareness in the student body about the team. We've been displaying the trophies we've earned this year. There are a lot of kids who have said they would like to run next year and hopefully this will build that same kind of momentum."
At district, Whitehall finished second (91 points) behind Granville (16) and ahead of Bexley (93) and DeSales (126) in the 12-team event.
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North, where the top four teams and top 16 individuals advance to state Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
In 2002, the Rams finished 14th (304) in the 20-team regional behind champion St. Clairsville (117).
Junior Nahom Hailu and senior Abiel Kiflu have led the Rams this season, and Hailu was eighth (17 minutes, 48.87 seconds) and Kiflu was ninth (17:49.94) at district.
"I want to break 17 (minutes) at regional and I expect Nahom to go to state also," Kiflu said. "As a senior, I want to see the whole team go to state."
Senior Samson Edessa was 18th (18:10.24) and freshman Ana Abduljelil was 21st (18:31.75) at district.
Whitehall's other runners were senior Noah Young (35th, 19:11.73) and juniors Ashden Gibson (56th, 20:47.87) and Anthony Spaulding (60th, 20:54.96).
Granville runners finished in the top four positions led by senior Kevin Huddle, who placed first (16:58.72).
Last season, Kiflu represented the Rams at state and finished 65th of 146 runners in 17:13.17.
Kiflu earned the state berth by finishing 16th (17:30.15) at regional, where Hailu was 58th (18:38.42).
"I'm happy," Hailu said. "We had a good race. My goal is to go to state. I want to finish in the top 10 at regional."
The Whitehall girls did not have enough runners for a team score at district as Granville finished first (41) in the 14-team event.
Junior Ashley Hatfield led the Rams, finishing 63rd (24:10.7). Other runners were junior Katherine Ortiz (104th, 28:06.05) and freshman Leticia Njojiep (107th, 29:34.27).
Football team to visit Bexley
The football team will close the season Friday, Oct. 26, at Bexley.
Last season, Whitehall defeated Bexley 35-14 to finish 6-4.
The Rams fell to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the MSL-Ohio Division with a 38-20 loss at Columbus Academy on Oct. 18.
Isaiah Turner scored on a 1-yard run to close the Rams within 24-7 in the second quarter.
Barry Upchurch caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Tristen Ritchie in the third quarter and Turner scored on another 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense missed a lot of tackles in the first two quarters," coach Jake Kuhner said.
"We also had a lot of opportunities to make big plays in the backfield and we didn't come up with them. Offensively, it took us a quarter and a half to put some drives together."
Bexley dropped to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the league by losing to Licking Valley 28-17 on Oct. 19.
"Bexley has been playing well and scoring points," Kuhner said.
"We are going to have to tighten up on defense and put the ball in the hands of our playmakers offensively."