Whitehall-Yearling High School wrestling coach Steve Pennington admits he always strives for perfection.
Although the Rams finished third in the Division II district tournament held Feb. 22 and 23 at Heath and qualified four wrestlers for state, Pennington believes his team could have fared better.
Whitehall (119 points) finished behind Uhrichsville Claymont (182.5) and Steubenville (140.5) at district as 42 teams scored.
It was the best district finish for the Rams in Pennington's 10 years as coach.
"I'm excited that we got the four out, a district champ and finished third in the district, which is huge as a team, but I'm still a little disappointed that we didn't get more out," he said. "As happy as I am, I'm disappointed. You always strive for perfection. Until I reach it, I'm going to be disappointed."
Whitehall qualified 10 wrestlers for district, with senior Alex Farrow leading the way by winning the title at heavyweight. He pinned Jonathan Alder's Dustin Kuhlwein in the final in 2 minutes, 24 seconds.
The top four placers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament, which runs Thursday, Feb. 28, through Saturday, March 2, at Ohio State.
Last season, Farrow was 0-2 at state at 220 pounds.
"I hope last season's experience helps," said Farrow, who became Pennington's first district champion.
"I want to win state. I hope we get good people in the (practice) room this week to help us work out so we can get a little better before the tournament."
Also returning to state is Ashden Gibson, who finished third at district by defeating Licking Valley's Logan Johnson 13-6 at 138.
Last season, Gibson was 0-2 at state at 132.
Brothers Ana Abduljelil (113) and Ifa Abduljelil (152) are the Rams' other state qualifiers.
Ana finished third at district after defeating Caledonia River Valley's Raymond Raimo 6-4, and Ifa finished fourth after losing to Dover's Nick Weininger 14-0.
Noah Jay, who was 0-2 at state last season at 106, finished fifth at district at 106 and is a state alternate.
After winning his first-round match, Jay was leading Millersburg West Holmes' Cole Woods 6-2 in the third period in a quarterfinal when he was called for an illegal slam and lost the match by disqualification. Woods ended up finishing second.
Josh Delgadillo also was a state alternate at 132 after finishing fifth.
Also competing at district but failing to advance were Noah Young (160, sixth, 3-3), Bryce Hortz (170, 1-2), Mohamed Toure (195, 0-2) and Isaiah Turner (220, sixth, 2-3).
Boys bowling team earns state berth
The boys bowling team earned a second consecutive state berth for the first time in program history by finishing second in the 18-team district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
The Rams (3,902) finished behind Newark (3,935) and ahead of Westerville Central (3,895) as the top three teams advanced to state Saturday, March 2, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Last season at state, Whitehall was 16th (2,981) in the 16-team qualifying round behind first-place Beavercreek (3,676). Coldwater went on to win the state title, defeating Springfield Kenton Ridge 760-570 in the final.
Noah Wiley led the Rams at district with a 605 series, which tied him for 10th of 117 competitors.
"Last year we went in there with our heads big and when we started doing badly, we went really far down," Wiley said. "This year we have to go in there and put all of our effort into it and not get so big-headed."
Other bowlers for the Rams were Maddux Russell (571, 21st), Andrew Sturgill (554, 28th), Schuyler Wright (535, 36th) and Chad Clites (514, tied for 50th).
"We have to stay positive," coach Tavi Netotian said. "The kids are up. We haven't done well (at state) -- we've been in last every year -- but I think we're going to show up and be a lot better."
The Rams also finished 16th at state in 2007.
Girls bowling team falls short of state
The girls bowling team fell short of its bid for a state berth, finishing eighth (3,058) in the 18-team district tournament Feb. 23 at HP Lanes.
Cardington (3,682), Briggs (3,614) and Lancaster (3,318) earned berths to state Friday, March 1, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The top three individuals not on qualifying teams also advanced to state.
Taylor-Jo Morton was 13th (521) for Whitehall. North Union's Stormie Jamison earned the final individual state berth after finishing 10th (529) among 118 competitors.
Whitehall's other bowlers were Melanie Gilmer (454, tied for 40th), Taylor Deskins (451, tied for 44th), Tabetha Baumann (414, 67th) and Ashley Ford (377, 81st).
Boys basketball team loses district opener
The 17th-seeded boys basketball team lost at 14th-seeded River Valley 59-45 on Feb. 23 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
Guard Demetrius Carr led the Rams with 16 points.
River Valley led 35-33 after three quarters and outscored the Rams 24-12 in the fourth.
The Rams finished 8-15.
Girls basketball team loses at Granville
After a first-round bye, the 21st-seeded girls basketball team lost at seventh-seeded Granville 55-40 on Feb. 20 in a second-round Division II district tournament game.
The Blue Aces led 34-16 at halftime.
Guard Gayle Poindexter led Whitehall with 16 points.
The Rams finished 4-19.