A memorable season for the Whitehall-Yearling High School wrestling team ended with senior heavyweight Alex Farrow finishing second in the Division II state tournament March 2 at Ohio State.
Farrow lost to Perry's Billy Miller 3-1 in the final, with Miller's takedown with 18 seconds remaining in the third period proving to be the winning points.
Farrow finished 51-2 and was the program's first state runner-up since Matt Whitmer placed second at 185 pounds in 1976.
Whitehall's only state champion, Gary Joseph, won at 133 in 1960.
"I'm so proud of Alex and so proud of my kids, all my wrestlers, all my coaching staff," coach Steve Pennington said.
Farrow opened the three-day state tournament Feb. 28 with pins over Sandusky Perkins' Josh Rohrbacher (1 minute, 30 seconds) and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Drek Brumley (2:50) before defeating Franklin's Chase Henderson 8-3 in a semifinal.
After a scoreless first period in the final, Farrow and Miller traded escapes before Miller had his decisive takedown.
"I thought we had better lungs than him, so I thought we could gas him out a little more than what we did," Pennington said. "My hat is off to that kid. He did something that no one has ever done for Perry High School. That's their first state champ. He wrestled a good match, he stopped our offense. I wish we were a little more aggressive, but he was able to stop everything that we sent at him."
As a junior, Farrow went 0-2 at 220 at state.
"Overall, it was really good," Farrow said of his career, in which he compiled a 156-32 record. "I had fun and got to be with some of my favorite people doing something we all love."
Freshman Ana Abduljelil finished seventh at 113 after defeating Ryan Bennett of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 3-2 in a tiebreaker.
Abduljelil went 3-3 at state and finished 48-5.
"I look at wrestling as a fun thing to do in life," he said. "As long as I did my hardest, I don't get upset about it. I can't wait until next year."
Also competing at state were senior Ifa Abduljelil, who was 1-2 at 152 and finished 43-11 and junior Ashden Gibson, who was 0-2 at 138 and finished 50-3. Gibson was 0-2 at state at 132 as a sophomore.
Whitehall tied Clyde, Lewistown Indian Lake and Wapakoneta for 14th (32 points) at state behind champion St. Paris Graham (155.5), which won its 13th consecutive state title as 85 teams scored.
At district Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 at Heath, Whitehall finished third (119) behind Uhrichsville Claymont (182.5) and Steubenville (140.5) as 42 teams scored.
Farrow was first at district, Gibson and Ana Abduljelil were third and Ifa Abduljelil was fourth, as the top four in each weight class advanced to state.
Senior Josh Delgadillo (45-5) at 132 and junior Noah Jay (37-5) at 106 were fifth at district. Other district qualifiers were seniors Bryce Hortz (30-20) at 170, Noah Young (42-11) at 160, Mohamed Toure (17-17) at 195 and Isaiah Turner (42-11) at 220.
Whitehall won its first sectional title since 1961, scoring 265.5 points in the 13-team tournament Feb. 16 at Licking Heights to outdistance runner-up Caledonia River Valley (157).
The Rams won the program's first league title since 1968, scoring 396 points in the MSL-Ohio Division tournament Feb. 9 at Heath to finish ahead of Licking Valley (275), Granville (269), Newark Catholic (163), Heath (135), Columbus Academy (109), Lakewood (104) and Bexley (96).
Licking Valley had won the four previous league titles. Whitehall had eight champions and one runner-up finish.
The Rams lost to Lexington 37-25 in the Region 14 final of the first Division II state team tournament Feb. 6 at New Rosemore Middle School.
"These kids are buying into the system, they're buying into the system at a younger age and it's just going to keep building, keep continuing and move on," Pennington said.
Boys bowling team competes at state
The boys bowling team competed in the state tournament March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, finishing 15th (2,983) in the 16-team qualifying round behind first-place Fairport Harding (3,420) and ahead of Westerville Central (2,778).
The top eight teams advanced to the finals. Canfield defeated Kettering Fairmont 739-696 for the title.
Junior Noah Wiley led the Rams with a 554 series to finish 40th among 100 competitors.
Other bowlers were seniors Schuyler Wright (535, 49th) and Chad Clites (524, 51st), junior Andrew Sturgill (487, 67th) and sophomore Maddux Russell (362, two games).
The Rams earned their second consecutive state berth for the first time in program history by finishing second (3,902) in the 18-team district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes behind Newark (3,935) and ahead of Central (3,895). The top three teams advanced to state.
Whitehall also finished seventh (3,385) in the 30-team sectional Feb. 16 at Eastland Lanes behind champion Westerville South (3,766) as the top nine teams advanced.
The Rams lost to Granville 3-2 in a best-of-five match in the MSL tournament final Feb. 9 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. Whitehall defeated Logan Elm 3-0 in a semifinal.
The Rams finished second (4,001) in pool play behind Teays Valley (4,208).
Wiley (623) was first-team all-league, Russell (593), Wright (586) and Sturgill (567) were second-team all-league and Clites (529) was honorable mention all-league.
Whitehall won the 11-team Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division at 12-1, finishing ahead of Teays Valley (10-1).
Boys basketball coach resigns
Citing family commitments, boys basketball coach Mike Barcus announced he was resigning after his team's 59-45 loss to host River Valley on Feb. 23 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
The 14th-seeded Vikings outscored the Rams 24-12 in the fourth quarter.
Senior guard Demetrius Carr led 17th-seeded Whitehall with 16 points.
The Rams finished 8-15.
Barcus has coached in the sport for 40 years and led the Rams for four seasons, finishing with a record of 26-61.
"It was time," Barcus said. "My wife is retiring in June and we want to do some traveling and I have a grandson that plays football and wrestles and I'd like to see him more. I have another grandson who is into taekwondo and swimming."