For Whitehall-Yearling High School senior O.C. Wellman, a four-year prep career came to an end May 19 at Hilliard Darby.
Wellman, who was a four-year contributor for the football program, has one regret in athletics. He competed on the boys track and field team this spring for the first time, but wishes he would have participated all four years.
"I wish I would have run all four years because I didn't know I had the speed that I have now," Wellman said. "I could have really done something all four years. The 800 relay team was something special this year."
The Rams closed their season in the Division I, district 2 meet, finishing last (7 points) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109) as the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
Wellman (sprints, hurdles), seniors J.T. Wellman (sprints) and Joachim Bailey (sprints) and sophomore Kaylyn Anderson (hurdles, high jump) finished fifth in the 800-meter relay (1 minute, 32.69 seconds), one place shy of earning a regional berth.
"I knew O.C. had a lot of talent, but he really put in a lot of passion and hard work on top of that," coach Aaron Johnson said. "I wish I had him earlier than that, but it was great for him to come out and he was one of my leaders. For him to come out in his first year and take that role, that's a real special guy to have."
Anderson was 10th in the high jump (5 feet, 8 inches) and junior Keon Freeman (throws), who completed his first season with the program, was 10th in the shot put (45-10 3/4).
Junior Chris Charles (distance) was 13th in the 1,600 (4:56.26) and 14th in the 3,200 (11:04.92).
In the MSL-Ohio Division meet May 8 and 11 at London, Whitehall finished fourth (63) behind Worthington Christian (130), London (121) and Columbus Academy (101) and ahead of Grandview (57) and Bexley (48).
J.T. Wellman was first in the 400 (51.39) and Freeman won the shot put (43-2).
Other key athletes expected to return are juniors Christian Batiste (discus), Chris Ceasar (sprints, hurdles) and Raashad Strickland (sprints), sophomore Carter Paddock (distance) and freshmen Kyzion Freeman (middle distance, hurdles, long jump), Anthony Hampton (sprints) and Keith Hodge (sprints).
"I'm so proud of these guys, especially my four seniors," Johnson said. "J.T. and Joachim were four-year guys. They did well from the very start. I got to coach them from their sophomore year and they really made tremendous progress. J.T. and Joachim had great senior seasons."
The girls team also closed its season in the district 2 meet, finishing 13th (7) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164).
Sophomore Liana Betts was fifth in the discus (105-11) and ninth in the shot put (31-10).
Juniors Deja King (sprints) and Tyrianna Stewart (sprints, hurdles), sophomore Janatie Alvarez (sprints) and freshman Ryyair Smith (sprints, hurdles) were sixth in the 400 relay (51.4).
Whitehall finished sixth (22) in the league meet behind Bexley (128), Academy (121), Grandview (116), Worthington Christian (68) and London (61).
Alvarez, King, Smith and Stewart finished second in the 400 relay (52.37).
"(District) was very competitive, but it pushes me to do better," Stewart said.
Other key athletes eligible to return include juniors Milan Atkins (sprints, hurdles), Kashell King (sprints, hurdles) and Abadite Negasi (distance) and sophomores Rebekah Revadelo (jumps), Pashience Sellers (distance) and Shamya Wilson (distance).
Paula Wilson (distance, discus) was the team's only senior.
"Most of the team is young, so we'll have a lot back next year," coach Stephanie Wilcox said. "We'll have seniors. There was a lot of improvement from the beginning of the season once we finally got a consistent team and people healthy."