After competing in the state tournament in 2011 but failing to qualify last season, the Whitehall-Yearling High School girls bowling team is eying a return trip to state.
The Rams began what they hope will be a successful postseason by finishing second (3,120) behind Lancaster (3,159) in a 26-team sectional Feb. 15 at Eastland Lanes.
"It's not only important for the team, but also the community," coach Jess Biller said. "There's not a lot of sports in Whitehall who are doing well other than bowling and wrestling. It means a lot to all of our teams as well as our community."
The top nine teams and top nine individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Saturday, Feb. 23, at HP Lanes.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams at district will advance to state March 1 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
In 2011 at state, the Rams finished 15th (2,900) of 16 teams behind champion Coldwater (3,390).
Last season, Whitehall was 11th (3,066) at district behind champion Westerville Central (3,603).
Taylor-Jo Morton led the Rams at sectional, finishing third (515 series) behind Buckeye Valley's Kourtnee Green and Lancaster's Autumn Cooney, who tied for first (531).
Other Whitehall bowlers were Melanie Gilmer (475, tied for eighth), Taylor Deskins (414, 34th), Ashley Ford (404, 36th) and Tabetha Baumann (394, 40th).
"I'm so excited, I really hope we can go to state," Deskins said.
"I think we have the potential to beat just about anyone. I know we can do it. I'm not really worried about any team (except) maybe Briggs. Briggs is a really good team."
Briggs (3,757) won the 26-team sectional Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl ahead of second-place Cardington (3,584).
Although Biller was pleased with his team's performance, he believes the Rams will have to improve at district if they hope to advance to state.
"We need to convert our spares," Biller said. "We need to be consistent on Baker games; we need to average 170 on Bakers. We're going to have to shoot in the 900s on individual games. (A score of) 825 was our highest single game (at sectional)."
Boys bowling team qualifies for district
The boys bowling team qualified for district Friday, Feb. 22, at HP Lanes by finishing seventh (3,385) in the 30-team sectional Feb. 16 at Eastland Lanes behind champion Westerville South (3,766).
The top nine teams and top nine individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.
Maddux Russell led the Rams at sectional with a 529 series, followed by Andrew Sturgill (521), Noah Wiley (484), Chad Clites (478) and Schuyler Wright (309).
The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams at district will advance to state March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Wrestling team wins sectional title
The wrestling team won its first sectional title since 1961, finishing first (265.5 points) in the 13-team Division II sectional Feb. 16 at Licking Heights ahead of second-place Caledonia River Valley (157).
"It's huge for these younger kids to see that success is possible," coach Steve Pennington said.
"You always want to be able to point back to your history and recent history is even better. It's huge for the program bringing in former wrestlers of the team and getting the community behind it with all the success."
The top four individuals in each weight class advanced to district Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Heath.
Winning sectional titles for the Rams were Noah Jay at 106 pounds, Ana Abduljelil at 113, Josh Delgadillo at 132, Ashden Gibson at 138 and Alex Farrow at heavyweight.
Whitehall's other district-qualifiers were Ifa Abduljelil at 152 (second), Noah Young at 160 (second), Bryce Hortz at 170 (second), Mohamed Toure at 195 (second) and Isaiah Turner at 220 (fourth).
The top four individuals in each weight class at district will advance to state Feb. 28 through March 2 at Ohio State.
Also competing at sectional but failing to advance were Travis Bailey (145, fifth, 3-2), A.J. Drake (182, sixth, 2-3), Abiel Kiflu (120, sixth, 2-3) and Parker Riley (126, 0-2).
Boys basketball team to play River Valley
The boys basketball team opens Division II district tournament play at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at River Valley.
The Rams are seeded 17th and the Vikings are 14th.
The winner will play 15th-seeded Columbus East at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the home of the highest seed.
That winner will advance to a district semifinal March 6 at Olentangy against top-seeded Brookhaven, Linden-McKinley, London or Utica.
Whitehall closed the regular season at 8-14 overall by losing to Granville 71-52 on Feb. 15. Guard D.A. Sanders led the Rams with 13 points and guard Demetrius Carr scored 10.
Whitehall finished fifth (6-8) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind champion Newark Catholic (13-1).
Girls basketball team opens tournament
The 21st-seeded girls basketball team had a first-round bye in the Division II district tournament and played seventh-seeded Granville in the second round Feb. 20.
The winner advanced to play third-seeded Hartley or ninth-seeded Licking Valley in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Gahanna. The district final is 7 p.m. March 1 at Gahanna.
The Rams were 4-18 before playing Granville.