Whitehall-Yearling High School sophomore Chris Ceasar made a promise to his teammates and coaches following the 800-meter relay preliminary during the Division I boys regional track and field meet May 24 at Pickerington North.

Caesar, who was competing in his first regional, vowed to return next season as one of several promising underclassmen expected to be back in the lineup. He hopes to be the program’s first state qualifier since the Rams returned to Division I from Division II in 2014.

Caesar led off the relay, which also included seniors Jawuan Hammock and Siraj Muhammad and sophomore Raymell Byrd. They finished 14th of 16 teams in 1 minute, 32.34 seconds.

The top eight relays qualified for the final May 26, and the top four finishers in each event in the finals advanced to state Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State.

“It made me very hungry for next year,” Ceasar said. “Next year I’m looking to get a medal. The race was not what I expected. It was a little faster than I thought it would be.”

The Rams closed their season by competing in the 400 relay preliminary. Muhammad, Hammock, Byrd and senior Brandon Webber finished 13th of 15 entrants in 44.45.

Webber and coach Aaron Johnson said a poor exchange between leadoff runner Muhammad and Webber was a key to the disappointing finish.

“With relays it’s hard to be consistent,” Johnson said. “You can prepare all you can, but at the end of the day anything can happen. Overall, I’m proud of our guys and how they competed and how they kept their heads up. I know to the best of their abilities, they left it on the track.”

Despite the subpar performance, Webber was pleased with his team’s season and his prep career.

“I’m happy that we got here to regional,” he said. “We had a bad exchange. We messed it all up and I think we could have made it to the final. … This is a bad memory, but it was a good memory making it here.”

Whitehall qualified its 800 relay for regional last season, but the team, which included Hammock and Muhammad, did not finish the race during the preliminary after a bad baton exchange.

“It’s progress from last year,” Johnson said. “Last year we had (an 800 relay) make it to regional. We came back here again, so that was good and we got to bring along our (400 relay).”

The boys team’s last state qualifier was 2013 graduate Abiel Kiflu, who qualified in the 800 in Division II in 2013 and finished sixth (1:55.88).

The girls team did not have a regional qualifier this season.

Boys tennis coach
enjoys first season

Even though his team finished 1-11 overall, boys tennis coach Curt Metzger saw improvement from his players during his first season.

“I had fun,” Metzger said. “There were tons of different characters on the team. … Hopefully we can get a few more athletes out here. Hopefully I can get a better turnout next year.”

Senior Jey’Braun Christie was in his first season with the team but emerged as the first-singles player during the regular season before teaming with senior Natnael Dessa to play doubles during the postseason.

In the MSL-Ohio Division tournament May 1 at Columbus Academy, Christie and Dessa went 1-1 at first doubles, defeating Grandview’s Caleb Akers and Ben Hecker 8-0 before losing to Worthington Christian’s Ben Kindberg and Chris Tsibouris 8-0 in a semifinal.

Christie and Dessa also went 1-1 in a Division I sectional May 11 at Reynoldsburg. They defeated Beechcroft’s Messan Gabianou and Matthew Neal 6-2, 6-4 before losing to New Albany’s Ben Yan and Alex Cash 6-3, 6-0 in the second round.

Whitehall (1-5) finished sixth in the MSL-Ohio with seven points, behind Academy (46 points, 6-0), Bexley (43, 5-1), Worthington Christian (30, 4-2), West Jefferson (14, 3-3) and Grandview (14, 2-4) and ahead of London (2, 0-6).

The Rams defeated London 5-0 on May 2.

Other players eligible to return include juniors Andrew Nemes and Kenneth White, sophomores David Carter and Seth Coleman and freshmen Kaleb Regassa and Kane Wenell.

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@ThisWeekFrank