Competing in Division I for the first time since 2007, the Whitehall-Yearling High School track and field teams fell short of their goal of advancing athletes to the regional meet.
The Rams competed in the district 1 meet May 20, 22 and 24 at Hilliard Darby, with the top four finishers in each event advancing to regional May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
"When you have kids that are pretty good, but not as good as the top-level kids in the district -- especially being Division I -- we try to put some good relay teams together," coach Zach Wright said. "Both our girls (400) and (800) relays made it to the (district) finals and scored points for us. We knew individually they weren't going to have that kind of success, so we tried to build a couple of relays."
The boys team finished 14th (6 points) at district behind champion North (127) as 15 teams scored.
Senior Nahom Hailu had hoped to qualify for regional in the 1,600 meters, but he fell short by finishing seventh in 4 minutes, 36.36 seconds. He also was 12th in the 3,200 (10:17.62)
Khilil Tolbert was seventh in the 100 (11.71), and Hailu, Tolbert, Tamagne Shiferaw and Chanse James-McDuffie were seventh in the 800 relay (1:35.84).
Hailu, Shiferaw, Michael Kantor and Kevin Diaz were 12th in the 3,200 relay (8:58.65).
Last season in the Division II regional, Hailu was a member of the 3,200 relay that finished sixth (8:23.28).
The girls finished 13th (4) behind champion Pickerington Central (126) as 15 teams scored.
Kayla Williams, Janae Edwards-Newton, Madeleine Camara and Tyra James were seventh in the 400 relay (52.53) and Williams, Camara, Edwards-Newton and Kenaja Busby were eighth in the 800 relay (1:50.4).
Williams was eighth in the 300 hurdles (50.77), Whitney DeClouet was 12th in the discus (87 feet, 8 inches) and Alexis Kefauver was 14th in the shot put (29-6 1/2).
Softball coach likes team's progression
Second-year softball coach Brian Anderson remains optimistic about the program's future.
The Rams finished 6-17 overall and 3-9 in the MSL-Ohio Division, a year after going 6-18 overall and 1-11 in the league.
"We were very young this season and when you're very young that's a good place to start rebuilding," Anderson said. "I thought the season went very well. We talked to the girls a lot, comparing it to building a house, and we felt like this year we laid down a good foundation and we just have to keep building from there."
Whitehall loses one senior in pitcher Madison Pharo.
"The pitching was huge with Madison," Anderson said. "We knew what we were going to get every time we went out there. She was very consistent with what she offered. She also had a very good bat for us. She's a perfect representation of what we want out of our program, not only what she does on the field, but what she does in the classroom and how she carries herself in her everyday life."
Pharo was 6-11 with a 6.82 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 24 walks in 103 2/3 innings. She also hit .365 with 14 RBI and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
"I did my best to set a good example for how a teammate should be as far as in the classroom and everything, so I hope that they just continue to grow in that direction," Pharo said.
Anderson said freshmen Mira Daugherty (P/3B) and Rebecca Maxstead (3B/P) should compete for time in the circle next year.
"Pitching from here on is going to be the one question mark and we're going to have to work to develop some pitching," Anderson said. "We'll do what we can. There's some potential and we have a very talented eighth-grade class coming up and they were working with three pitchers, so we'll continue to work with them as well."
Sophomore shortstop Brooklyn Rayburn hit .386 with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs, 22 RBI and 18 runs. She was honorable mention all-district and all-league.
Daugherty hit .343 with seven doubles, 10 RBI and 13 runs and was second-team all-league.
Junior outfielder Samantha Day scored 19 runs.
Whitehall lost at top-seeded Licking Valley 19-0 in five innings in the second round of the Division II district tournament May 16. The 13th-seeded Rams defeated 14th-seeded Independence 8-0 in the first round May 12 at home.
The Rams finished fifth in the MSL-Ohio behind West Jefferson (12-0), Bexley (9-3), Madison Plains (7-5) and London (7-5) and ahead of Grandview (2-10) and Worthington Christian (2-10).
Others eligible to return are juniors Nicole Barber (2B) and Morgan Jones (OF), sophomores Hannah Fetters (OF), Amanda McGarran (OF), Kenedi Neale (1B) and Rebecca Thomas (1B) and freshmen Nicole Dye (C), Alaina Klabunde (OF), Makynzie Myers (C) and Crystal Pope (1B).