Wrestlers are 'right on target'
Whitehall's Ana Abduljelil (left) and Columbus West's Brian Martinez compete in a 113-pound match earlier this season. Abduljelil won by pin during a 62-17 win over Mifflin on Jan. 30 in the state team tournament. The Rams also defeated DeSales 71-11 to reach a regional final. Buy This Photo
The Whitehall-Yearling High School wrestling team advanced to a regional final in the first Division II state team tournament.
Coach Steve Pennington hoped it was only the first of many postseason achievements for the Rams.
Whitehall competed against Lexington in the Region 14 final Feb. 6. On the line was a spot in the state duals Saturday, Feb. 9, at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
The eight regional champions will compete at state, beginning with quarterfinal matches.
"Making the regional finals for the first-ever state duals is big for our program," Pennington said.
"Going into our sectional and district tournaments, we're right where we want to be."
The Rams will compete in a Division II sectional Feb. 16 at Licking Heights. The top four individuals in each weight class will advance to district Feb. 22 and 23 at Heath.
The MSL-Ohio Division tournament also will be held Saturday, Feb. 9, at Heath, but Pennington said his team would compete in the state tournament if it defeated Lexington.
Pennington said other MSL coaches have indicated that his wrestlers would be eligible for all-league recognition even if they don't compete in the league tournament.
"We've wrestled almost everybody in our league at a tournament throughout the season, so we know where we stack up," Pennington said.
"If the league wants to honor their best wrestlers whether or not they're at a league tournament or not, I think it's just and fair. It's very important for me to have the kids recognized in the league."
The Rams reached the regional final by defeating Mifflin 62-17 and DeSales 71-11 in Region 14-A matches Jan. 30 at New Rosemore Middle School.
Against Mifflin, winners by pin were Ana Abduljelil at 113 pounds (1 minute, 23 seconds), Ashden Gibson at 138 (3:02), Ifa Abduljelil at 152 (4:59), Noah Young at 160 (2:45), Mohamed Toure at 195 (1:44) and Alex Farrow at heavyweight (42 seconds).
Against DeSales, winners by pin were Gibson at 138 (13 seconds) and Travis Bailey at 145 (3:00). The Rams won six matches by forfeit.
"At this point of the season, we want to be in some tough matches," Pennington said.
"Even though the final team score was lopsided there were some very good individual matches in there that are going to help us in the postseason. Any time you get a win it helps morale, but a dominating win helps everybody."
Before Feb. 6, the Rams were 23-1 overall in dual matches, with the loss coming against Division III Amanda-Clearcreek 39-33 in the Logan Elm Invitational on Jan. 4. The Rams competed without Bailey and Toure, who were on vacation.
Before Feb. 6, Gibson was 38-0, Farrow was 36-1, Ana Abduljelil was 35-1, Isaiah Turner (220) was 35-5, Josh Delgadillo (132) was 34-3, Ifa Abduljelil and Young both were 32-6 and Noah Jay (106) was 24-3.
"We had goals of being this good because we knew we had three returning state qualifiers (in Farrow, Gibson and Jay) and we had a couple freshmen coming up," Delgadillo said.
Boys bowling team wins league title
The boys bowling team won the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division title at 12-1, ahead of Teays Valley (10-1).
On Feb. 2 at Sequoia Pro Bowl, the Rams finished third (3,318) in the eight-team COHSBC tournament behind Westerville North (3,378) and Westerville South (3,338).
The top three teams from each of the conference's three divisions qualified, but Teays Valley did not attend because of bad weather.
Chad Clites led the Rams with a 624 series and was first-team all-conference.
Schuyler Wright had a 563 series and Andrew Sturgill had a 546 series, and each was third-team all-conference.
The girls team finished sixth (2,572) in the nine-team conference tournament behind champion Briggs (2,986).
Taylor Morton had a 605 series and was first-team all-conference. Taylor Deskins had a 473 series and was third-team all-conference.
The Rams finished third in the COHSBC-South at 11-2, behind Briggs (14-0) and Reynoldsburg (11-1).
Girls basketball team defeats Academy
Guard Gayle Poindexter scored nine points in leading the girls basketball team to a 33-30 win over host Columbus Academy on Jan. 29.
The Rams lost to host Bexley 55-41 on Feb. 2 as Poindexter scored 19 points and guard Mamie Russell scored 16.
"The team is looking to finish the regular season strong and much improved," coach Stephanie Jones said.
The Rams have a first-round bye for the Division II district tournament and will play either seventh-seeded Granville or Jonathan Alder on Feb. 20.