It's a monumental track and field postseason for Whitehall-Yearling High School.
Not only will the boys and girls teams face tougher competition now that they have moved up to Division I, but the school has opportunities this week and next week to showcase its new athletic complex.
Whitehall is playing host this week to the MSL-Ohio Division meet, which began May 13 and concludes Friday, May 16.
"It will be good for our kids to be able to be proud of where they're from and what we have there compared to what all the other teams in the league have because it's definitely one of the best track and field facilities in central Ohio now," coach Zach Wright said.
Next week, while the boys and girls teams compete in the Division I, district 1 meet Tuesday, May 20, May 22 and May 24 at Hilliard Darby, the school will play host to a Division III district meet Tuesday, May 20, Wednesday, May 21, and May 24.
During the regular season, the track program held its first home meet in seven years following the completion of a renovation project at the school.
Last season in the league meet, the boys team finished fifth (74 points) behind champion Granville (166) and the girls finished sixth (39) behind champion Granville (172.5). Granville now competes in the Licking County League.
In the postseason, the Rams have moved up to Division I after competing in Division II since 2008.
"Division I is so much deeper," Wright said. "A lot of times the top-end kids are maybe on level with the D-I kids, but the D-I stuff is so much deeper. For us, it's going to be a real challenge."
The Rams tuned up for the postseason by competing in the Africentric Classic on May 9.
The boys finished third (85) of 10 teams behind champion Licking Heights (130) as Nahom Hailu won the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 44.5 seconds) and the 3,200 (10:18.88).
Dassan Jefferson won the 300 hurdles (42.5), placed third in the discus (103 feet) and took fourth in the 110 hurdles (16.5).
Brandon Copley was second in the 300 hurdles (43.05) and fifth in the 110 hurdles (16.6). Tamagne Shiferaw was third in the 800 (2:13.81) and Angosom Weldu was fourth in the 1,600 (5:23.51).
Shiferaw, Weldu, Michael Kantor and Kevin Diaz were third in the 3,200 relay (9:15.58).
The girls were fifth (54) of 11 teams behind champion Columbus School for Girls (141).
Kayla Williams was second in the 100 hurdles (16.98) and third in the 300 hurdles (50.0), and Tyra James was fifth in the 300 hurdles (53.09) and sixth in the 100 hurdles (18.75).
"The boys and girls hurdlers ran very well in both the 100 and 110 and the 300," Wright said. "It was the best times of their careers for all four of them in the 300."
Alexis Kefauver was second in the discus (97-6) and fourth in the shot put (27-9 3/4), and Tierra Copley was fifth in the high jump (4-2).
"The kids did a good job," Wright said. "We ran some of the younger kids in the sprint relays just to give them a chance to run in a big meet before the season is over."
Baseball team closes league play with win
The baseball team completed MSL-Ohio play by winning 3-1 at Madison Plains on May 9.
Cameron Barker homered in the third inning to snap a 1-all tie and Myles Russell pitched a complete game, allowing six hits, striking out 11 and walking one.
Coach Bill Welsh was part of the Madison Plains program for three seasons. He was the head coach in 2011 and 2012 and an assistant in 2010.
"The first one of the season was nice," Welsh said of his team's 14-1, five-inning win over Madison Plains on April 19. "This one is just more about finishing strong, getting that last league win and getting set up for the tournament the best we could."
The Rams went 4-10 in the league. Bexley and Columbus Academy shared the title at 12-2.
"It's an improvement on last year, so that's good obviously," said Welsh, whose team went 3-21 overall last season. "I'm a little disappointed because I feel that we left a couple wins out there and let a couple slip away, but overall I'm pleased with the way things are going."
Seeded 20th for the Division II district tournament, Whitehall was 6-12 overall before playing at 15th-seeded Independence in the first round May 13. The winner plays at fourth-seeded Watterson in the second round Thursday, May 15.
The second-round winner plays sixth-seeded Lakewood, 11th-seeded Johnstown, 18th-seeded London or 26th-seeded Linden-McKinley in a district semifinal Monday, May 19 at Gahanna.
The district final is Wednesday, May 21, at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
Softball team finishes with three league wins
The softball team went 3-9 in the MSL-Ohio, finishing behind champion West Jefferson (12-0).
The 13th-seeded Rams were 5-16 overall before playing 14th-seeded Independence in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 12. The winner played at top-seeded Licking Valley in the second round May 14.
The second-round winner plays eighth-seeded London, ninth-seeded Buckeye Valley or 16th-seeded Columbus South in a district semifinal Monday, May 19, at Pickerington North.
Through 21 games, sophomore Brooklyn Rayburn was hitting .369 with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs, 21 RBI and 15 runs. Freshman Mira Daugherty was hitting .339 with six doubles and 12 runs, and senior Madison Pharo was hitting .323 with 12 RBI.
Pharo also was 5-10 with a 6.57 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 21 walks in 92 2/3 innings.
"I'm happy," coach Brian Anderson said. "We talked to the girls the other night about turning this thing around is not going to happen overnight."
Tennis team set for Division I sectional
The boys tennis team will compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17, at Upper Arlington.
"Division I is tougher, but we got some nice matchups in the first round versus teams like Franklin Heights and Hamilton Township," said coach Ben White, whose team previously competed in Division II. "It should be a fun day of tennis."
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 23 and 24 at Hilliard Davidson.
The Rams were 8-7 before playing Centennial on May 12.
Whitehall defeated Hartley 5-0 on May 9 and Hamilton Township 3-2 on May 5.
Against Hartley, winners were Jiawen Zhen 6-3, 6-0 at first singles, Aaron Miller 6-0, 6-0 at second singles and Matt McGarran and Ethan Miller 6-2, 6-0 at first doubles. Whitehall won third singles and second doubles by forfeit.
Against Hamilton Township, winners were Aaron Miller 6-2, 6-4 at second singles, Jacob Dilbeck and McGarran 6-2, 6-2 at first doubles and James Pooch and Bryce Klabunde 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at second doubles.