Whitehall-Yearling High School senior Abiel Kiflu entered the track and field season with his sights set on a program record that had stood since 1969.
He reached his goal in the 800 meters during the second day of the MSL-Ohio Division meet held May 14 and 17 at Heath.
Kiflu finished second in 1 minute, 55.88 seconds, eclipsing Dan Reid's record of 1:57.6.
Granville's Tyler Otterstedt won the race in 1:54.32.
"When the season started my first goal was to break the school record, which had been there since the 1960s by my coach," Kiflu said. "I told myself that I will break it this year. I was just waiting for the right time to break it and the time just came."
Kiflu credits Reid, who is an assistant coach in the program, for being a big part of his success.
"My coach helped me a lot to break the record," Kiflu said. "If it wasn't for the coach, I wouldn't be able to break it."
The Rams finished fifth (74 points) behind Granville (166), Columbus Academy (117), Licking Valley (92) and Heath (78) and ahead of Lakewood (68), Bexley (37) and Newark Catholic (31).
"Our boys ran about as well as we could," coach Zach Wright said. "We scored in every running event, which is quite a feat to start with. The guys ran good times, the relays ran good times. Abiel broke that record in the 800 and had a great race. We were pleased."
Wright was hoping his team would carry its momentum into the Division II, district 2 meet, which began May 21 at Westerville South, continued May 22 and concludes Saturday, May 25.
The top four finishers in each event at district advance to the regional meet May 30 and June 1 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
Last season in the 13-team district 2 meet, the Rams finished seventh (49) behind champion DeSales (110).
Finishing second in the league meet were Nahom Hailu in the 3,200 (9:58.77) and Paulus Thomas, Isaiah Turner, Khilil Tolbert and Chanse James-McDuffie in the 400 relay (44.79).
Turner, Tolbert, Jaleel Morgan and Mohamed Toure were third in the 800 relay (1:33.3) and Troy Gray was third in the shot put (44 feet, 4 1/4 inches).
Kiflu, Hailu, Morgan and Samson Edessa were fourth in the 3,200 relay (8:19.02).
Also finishing fourth were Toure in the 400 (51.88) and Kiflu in the 1,600 (4:32.51).
Thomas was fifth in the long jump (19-6 1/2).
Kiflu was looking forward to the district meet.
"Now I realize how my pace should be to have a better time," he said. "The only thing that matters at district is to be top four. That is my first goal and to win it is my second goal."
Whitehall competed in the league meet without senior Ifa Abduljelil, who strained his left hamstring May 11 during the final of the 110 hurdles in the Hilliard Bradley Invitational.
"I wanted to prepare for district," he said. "My hamstring was a lot worse than I thought. I wanted to be able to sprint or at least be able to go 80 percent to be able to qualify to finals and this will give more time to heal."
Last year, Abduljelil missed most of the regular season with a right hamstring injury, but he returned for the postseason and qualified for state in the 110 hurdles before being disqualified because of a false start in the final.
Marissa Ware led the girls team in the league meet by placing third in the 100 hurdles (16.45) and 300 hurdles (49.86).
Tierra Copley was third in the high jump (4-6).
Ware, Tasia Scott, Madeleine Camara and Ana Hammock were fourth in the 400 relay (54.076) and fifth in the 800 relay (1:57.07).
Whitney DeClouet was fifth in the shot put (27-2) and discus (86-8).
Whitehall finished sixth (39) behind Granville (172.5), Academy (119), Heath (111.5), Bexley (86) and Licking Valley (65) and ahead of Newark Catholic (37) and Lakewood (24).
"The girls ran well also," Wright said. "The girls that were in the finals ran hard, ran well. The two relays came out and scored in the middle of the pack, which we were happy with. Marissa ran two pretty good hurdle races."
Last season in district 2, Whitehall finished 11th (23) behind champion Columbus School for Girls (129).
Anderson finishes 1st year as softball coach
The softball team went 6-18 overall and 1-11 in the MSL-Ohio in Brian Anderson's first season as coach.
Whitehall lost at 14th-seeded London 9-6 in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 13.
The Rams, who were seeded 16th, trailed 9-0 before scoring five runs in the fifth inning and a run in the sixth.
Whitehall finished seventh in the MSL-Ohio behind champion Lakewood, which went 10-2 to win its third consecutive league title. Heath and Licking Valley tied for second (9-3), followed by Granville (8-4), Newark Catholic (3-9) and Bexley (2-10).
The Rams defeated Bexley 10-7 in 12 innings April 17.
"Obviously, 6-18 you're not thrilled with, but the league we played in was just very, very tough," Anderson said.
Whitehall began the season 2-0, defeating Reynoldsburg 9-0 on March 30 and Fairfield Christian 11-1 in six innings April 1. The Rams also defeated Mount Vernon 6-0 on April 6, Dublin Jerome 15-9 on May 4 and West Jefferson 5-0 on May 8.
The Rams lose five seniors, including twins Danielle Farnlacher (P) and Delina Farnlacher (C).
Danielle led the team in hitting at .411 and tied Delina for the team lead in runs with 20.
"The seniors were a great group," Anderson said. "It's probably not an easy situation. ... (It's) the end of the senior year where they're thinking about graduating and getting on with their lives and to have a new coach come in and trying to change things, but they bought in and were good leaders. They all did a great job this year."
Freshman Brooklyn Rayburn (2B/SS) hit .391 and led the team with 24 RBI. She had seven doubles, two triples and two home runs.
Danielle Farnlacher and junior Summer Rains (OF) each had 14 RBI, senior Melanie Gilmer (1B/P) had 12 and sophomore Nicole Barber (3B/OF) had 10.
Rains scored 17 runs.
In the circle, Danielle Farnlacher was 3-7 with a 5.11 ERA and 49 strikeouts and 36 walks in 63 innings. Junior Madison Pharo was 3-11 with a 7.82 ERA and 32 strikeouts and 25 walks in 79 2/3 innings.
Other players expected to return are sophomores Samantha Day (OF) and Morgan Jones (3B/OF) and freshmen Kenedi Neale (C) and Hannah Fetters (utility player).
"We can build something here and I like the kids," Anderson said. "They're hard working and they listen."
Baseball team loses to Sparta Highland
The 20th-seeded baseball team lost at ninth-seeded Sparta Highland 9-0 in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 14.
Last season, Whitehall defeated Highland 5-3 in the first round.
In the rematch, Highland's Josh Gahm pitched a no-hitter, striking out 11 and walking none.
Whitehall finished 3-21.
Miller wins sectional tennis match
Ethan Miller was the lone member of the boys tennis team to win a match in the Division II sectional tournament May 16 at Columbus Academy.
Miller defeated Fisher Catholic's Eric Gundelfinger 6-2, 6-3 in a play-in match and lost to Academy's Shrikar Kundur 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.