Whitehall-Yearling High School track and field coach Zach Wright was quick to point out highlights from his teams' season.
Those highlights included the program holding its first home meet in seven seasons after a renovation project that included resurfacing of the track was completed at the school.
"Being able to have home track meets was a great opportunity for our athletes to finally compete in front of the home crowd and show their peers how their hard work in practice had paid off," Wright said. "Our middle school athletes stayed to watch and support the high school (teams) and could finally see just what they need to do to be competitive when they get to high school."
After competing in Division II since 2008, the Rams moved to Division I for the postseason and failed to qualify an athlete for the regional meet May 28 and 30 at Pickerington North.
However, Wright said he still was satisfied with how his teams performed this season.
"We were pleased with the effort of the kids, especially as young as we were," he said. "Both teams were fairly young. The kids for the most part put in a good effort, put their best foot forward and gave us three good months where they worked hard, did what we asked them to do and finished in the top half of the league for both boys and girls."
The Rams competed in the district 1 meet May 20, 22 and 24 at Hilliard Darby, and the boys finished 14th (6 points) behind champion North (127) as 15 teams scored.
Nahom Hailu, who was one of five seniors, finished seventh in the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 36.36 seconds) as the top four in each event qualified for regional.
Hailu, who was named the team's Most Valuable Athlete, also was 12th in the 3,200 (10:17.62)
Senior Khalil Tolbert was seventh in the 100 (11.71) and Hailu, Tolbert, senior Chanse James-McDuffie and freshman Tamagne Shiferaw were seventh in the 800 relay (1:35.84).
Hailu, Shiferaw and freshmen Michael Kantor and Kevin Diaz were 12th in the 3,200 relay (8:58.65).
Hailu ran on the 3,200 relay that finished sixth in the Division II regional last season.
The Rams played host to the MSL-Ohio Division meet May 13 and 16, and the boys finished fourth (74) behind Columbus Academy (149.5), Bexley (132) and Grandview (127) and ahead of Worthington Christian (57), West Jefferson (56), London (34.5) and Madison Plains (18).
Tolbert won the 200 (23.3) and was third in the 100 (11.48), and Hailu was second in the 3,200 (10:10.62) and third in the 1,600 (4:32.62).
Junior Dassan Jefferson was third in the 110 hurdles (16.03) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (42.09).
"I'm proud of the team because we were (Division I) this year and we fought hard, and we went above and beyond expectations," James-McDuffie said. "We made it further than anyone, including ourselves, thought we could make it and I was proud of everybody."
Other key athletes eligible to return are sophomore Brandon Copley (high jump/hurdles) and freshman Jawuan Hammock (sprints).
"We had a lot of young kids who scored a lot of points and got a lot of experience, so I think it was a successful season," Wright said.
Kayla Williams led the girls team throughout the season as one of five seniors.
The Rams finished 13th (4) at district behind champion Pickerington Central (126) as 15 teams scored.
Williams, senior Madeleine Camara, junior Tyra James and freshman Janae Edwards-Newton were seventh in the 400 relay (52.53), and Williams, Camara, Edwards-Newton and freshman Kenaja Busby were eighth in the 800 relay (1:50.4).
Williams also was eighth in the 300 hurdles (50.77).
"I did my best this season," said Williams, who was named the team's Most Valuable Athlete. "It was my best season this year, so I was really happy with it."
Sophomore Whitney DeClouet was 12th in the discus (87 feet, 8 inches) and sophomore Alexis Kefauver was 14th in the shot put (29-6 1/2).
Whitehall finished fourth (81) in the MSL-Ohio meet behind Grandview (162.5), Bexley (113) and Academy (96) and ahead of London (71), Worthington Christian (62), Madison Plains (28) and West Jefferson (26.5).
Williams won the 100 hurdles (16.56) and was second in the 300 hurdles (50.38). She also ran on the first-place 800 relay (1:51.37) with Camara, Busby and Edwards-Newton and on the second-place 400 relay (52.89) with Busby, Edwards-Newton and James.
Williams credited Wright for her success.
"If it wasn't for him, I definitely wouldn't have been able to get as far as I did because he really coached me through a lot of things," she said. "I was kind of new to hurdles, so he really helped me with that."