Although it wasn't the finish his team wanted, Whitehall-Yearling High School boys cross country coach Robert Taylor left the Division II regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North proud of his runners.
The Rams finished 14th (274 points) behind champion Granville (44) and ahead of Piketon (310) and DeSales (376) in the 16-team field.
"Our guys ran some strong races," Taylor said. "We had some guys run some of the best races they've run in two, three weeks. As a team, I'm real proud."
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
Proctorville Fairland (137), Chillicothe Unioto (147) and Millersburg West Holmes (149) will join Granville at state.
Junior Nahom Hailu led the Rams by finishing 23rd (17 minutes, 20.02 seconds) of 131 runners.
Senior Abiel Kiflu placed 32nd (17:39.1) at regional after finishing 65th (17:13.17) at state last season.
"It was a really good season," Kiflu said. "We made it to regional. I'm really happy about my kids. They will be better next year. Even though I am graduating, I will come support them."
The Rams' other runners at regional were senior Samson Edessa (78th, 18:23.6), freshman Ana Abduljelil (90th, 18:42.32), senior Noah Young (113th, 19:15.02) and juniors Ashden Gibson (120th, 19:39.6) and Anthony Spaulding (124th, 20:06.21).
"When time goes by, they're going to be proud of this year," Taylor said. "They ran well (at regional). I have no disappointment in any of these guys. They ran their hearts out. They just ran against some really superior runners."
The Rams earned the regional berth by finishing second (91) behind Granville (16) in the 12-team district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial.
Hailu was eighth (17:48.87) and Kiflu was ninth (17:49.94).
Whitehall was fifth (126) in the MSL-Ohio Division meet Oct. 13 at Bryn Du Mansion behind Granville (22), Bexley (75), Columbus Academy (99) and Newark Catholic (126) and ahead of Heath (140), Lakewood (144) and Licking Valley (175).
Hailu was fifth (17:08.8) and Abiel was 10th (17:37.9).
Senior Keith Lees missed most of the season with stress fractures in both legs. Other seniors were Josh Delgadillo and Manuel Lofton.
Hatfield led girls runners
Junior Ashley Hatfield led the girls cross country team for most of the season.
The Rams were eighth (230) in the MSL-Ohio meet behind Granville (28), Academy (42), Bexley (82), Licking Valley (104), Newark Catholic (132), Heath (163) and Lakewood (213).
Hatfield was 28th (22:47.9) of 52 runners. Other runners were junior Katheryne Ortiz (49th, 29:12), freshman Jawuana Hammock (50th, 35:28.5), junior Hailey Reed (51st (25:55.9) and sophomore Yesenia Vargas (52nd, 36:00.8).
The Rams didn't score at district as Granville (41) was first in the 14-team field.
Hatfield was 63rd (24:10.7) of 121 runners. Ortiz was 104th (28:06.05) and freshman Leticia Njojiep was 107th (29:34.27).
Football team finishes with win
The football team closed the season by defeating host Bexley 28-10 on Oct. 26.
The Rams finished 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the MSL-Ohio.
Granville, Licking Valley and Newark Catholic tied for first in the league at 6-1.
Against Bexley, Barry Upchurch rushed for 225 yards on 16 carries and Isaiah Turner had 104 yards on 22 carries.
Upchurch had touchdown runs of 37, 31 and 21 yards, and Turner had a 55-yard touchdown run.
The Rams finished with 353 total yards.
"The kids played tough and never let up," coach Jake Kuhner said. "We won all three games this year at Bexley and we were glad to see our seniors off with a win."
Whitehall played its home games at neutral sites because of a renovation project at the school.
The Rams defeated Central Crossing 40-7 on Aug. 24 and Lakewood 24-6 on Oct. 5, with both games played at Bexley.