The Whitehall-Yearling High School boys track and field team is looking for senior Brandon Webber to lead the way if it plans on having any success in the postseason.
Webber, who specializes in the 100 and 200 meters, along with the 400 and 800 relays, helped the Rams win the 44th annual Pat McMillin Invitational on April 21 at home. They scored 90 points to top an eight-team field, ahead of second-place Northland (81).
Webber, Raymell Byrd, Jawuan Hammock and Siraj Muhammad won the 400 relay (43.95 seconds) and finished second in the 800 relay (1:35.27). Webber also was fourth in the 100 (11.64).
Aaron Johnson, who shares coaching duties with Darryl Hammock, has been impressed with Webber's progression.
"Brandon is a good kid," Johnson said. "He has a good head on his shoulders. He's really made a lot of improvements in the last two years. He's off to a strong start this season in the sprints and his relays. He listens. He's good to me and he's good for the team. He lightens up the mood. It's a pleasure to have him on the team."
Although the Rams are preparing for their fourth consecutive season of competing in the Division I postseason, Webber is ready for the challenge.
Last season, Webber and Muhammad were part of the 400 relay that finished fifth (44.78) at district, one spot from advancing to regional.
"I want to get to regional (and the) regional final," Webber said. "That would mean a lot (because) we're going against ... all the big (Division I) schools."
Webber, Hammock, Muhammad and Byrd kicked off this season on a positive note by winning the 800 relay (1:34.67) in the 13-team Booster Invitational on March 28 at Hamilton Township.
As a sophomore, Webber helped the Rams win the MSL-Ohio Division title. That season, Webber shared the Coaches Award with 2016 graduate Brandon Copley.
Webber also excelled on the football field at Whitehall, playing outside linebacker. Last fall, he helped the Rams qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2003, as they lost to MSL-Ohio rival Bexley 31-21 in the first round of the Division III, Region 11 playoffs.
"Brandon worked hard in the offseason and during the season and by his senior year he had worked himself in a situation where we could count on him every Friday night," football coach Rod Lightfoot said.
"He did a great job for us this past season. I'm sorry to see him go. He's got great speed, great footwork and he's a super kid. He's a good student in the classroom. He's going to be missed."
Webber hopes to compete in both sports at the next level, but has yet to make his college decision. He is considering Defiance, Notre Dame College and Tiffin.
"I'm getting looked at by all three schools for track and I will walk on for football," Webber said.
He credits the coaches at Whitehall for his success at the prep level.
"I'm going to miss the coaches and the people," he said. "The coaches are cool."
In the McMillin Invitational, Kevin Diaz, Mikel Wilson, Kesean Ruffin and Chris Charles kicked off the meet by winning the 3,200 relay (9:02.6). Charles used a strong closing kick as anchor to help the Rams win the event.
"That started us off on the right track and they set the tone for the rest of the meet, especially with that last leg," Johnson said.
The girls finished fourth (53) of seven teams behind champion Northland (118) as freshman Janatie Alvarez won the 100 (13.27).
"The majority of our girls team is a young unit," Johnson said.
"We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but we've seen a lot of progression. We have a lot of great potential."
Softball team looking
for strong finish
The softball team is hoping for a strong finish to the regular season in preparation for the Division II district tournament, which begins May 9.
The Rams were 7-11 overall and 1-4 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley on April 24.
Whitehall defeated Fisher Catholic 17-0 in five innings and Morral Ridgedale 13-10 on April 22 at home.
Against Fisher Catholic, Kayna Wooten homered in support of winning pitcher Makayla Barber.
Wooten, Becca Maxstead and Alaina Klabunde each homered and Barber earned the win in relief against Ridgedale.
Through 18 games, Wooten was hitting .528, followed by Maxstead (.400), Barber (.382), Trinity Johnson (.377) and Kaila Daugherty (.365).
Barber had a team-high six home runs and 20 RBI, and Maxstead (21), Daugherty (20) and Johnson (15) led in runs.
rebounds from loss
The baseball team bounced back from a 24-9 loss to Columbus Academy on April 21 to defeat Madison Plains 2-1 on April 22, scoring in the sixth and seventh innings to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Justin Peck went the distance to earn the win, allowing just one hit.
Whitehall was 3-13 overall and 1-6 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley on April 24.
"We have to learn from it and recognize the things that we can improve on," coach Bill Welsh said after the loss to Academy.
"Our mental approach has to improve. That's where we get in our own way a lot of times. ... We fall behind early and then it snowballs like it did (April 21)."