After missing last season with a right knee injury, Whitehall-Yearling High School senior wrestler Raashad Strickland is looking forward to competing in the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.

Strickland, who is 36-7 this season, earned his third district berth by placing fourth at 120 pounds in a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district, where the top four in each weight qualify for state March 7-9 at Ohio State.

“I had a mindset that I wanted to take first but I ended up taking fourth, which I’m still happy with,” Strickland said. “I just have to train harder to take first (at district).”

Coach Steve Pennington said Strickland competed with shoulder and ankle injuries.

“We’re going to get him healthy this week,” Pennington said.

Hoping to make a bid for his first state berth, Strickland will face Upper Arlington’s Mitch Herren (19-5) in the first round at district. Strickland went 23-9 as a sophomore and 21-15 as a freshman, competing at 106 both years.

“I know it’s going to be a battle regardless of who I have to step across the line with,” Strickland said. “It would be the greatest feeling (to qualify for state) because we haven’t had (a state qualifier) in a while, so I want to be that one wrestler that is going to make that wish come true.”

The Rams’ last state qualifier was Ana Abduljelil, who won the Division II state title at 113 in 2016.

Strickland will be joined at district by sophomore Mike Dawkins, who finished fourth at 132 at sectional and is 34-11. He entered sectional seeded sixth.

“For him to finish fourth, it’s better than everyone expected,” Pennington said.

Dawkins will face Mount Vernon’s Triston Bowens (31-12) in the first round at district.

“Mike finished last season as a freshman (at Hartley) with an 11-16 record,” Pennington said. “This year he’s a district qualifier and has over 30 wins. He’s made a huge jump from last year to this year.”

Also at sectional, Alex Rodriguez went 2-3 at 138 to place sixth and finish 33-16. Shea Jordan (106), Austin Whistle (126), Carlos Rodriguez (195), Peter Gibson (220) and David Woods (heavyweight) each went 0-2, and the Rams finished 10th (28 points) behind champion Olentangy Liberty (214.5).

“It was the toughest sectional in central Ohio, so it was to be expected,” Pennington said of the 10th-place finish. “If you would have put us in any of the other sectionals, we would have got more kids out (to district).”

Two bowlers advance to district

Junior bowler Jessica Gress turned in a career-best effort in the 37-team Division I girls sectional Feb. 22 at HP Lanes to earn a district berth.

Gress recorded her first 600 series and finished first of 222 bowlers with a 620. She will compete at district Saturday, March 2, at HP Lanes.

The Rams finished 18th (2,888) behind champion Westerville Central (3,777) as the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.

Bayla Bonner (430), Kamdon Pauley (381), Chelsie Cress (358) and Kayla West (295) also competed at sectional.

“I was hoping we’d make it as a team, but unfortunately we were about 200 pins from the cut,” Gress said. “I want to make it to state. I want to bowl as well as I did at sectional, if not better, and place again. There will be a lot of people watching.”

For the boys, Jason Kefauver earned a district berth with a 585 series Feb. 23 at HP Lanes, finishing 39th of 242 bowlers. Brandon Shaw (547), Elias Rozzelle (512), Nathan McGrath (448) and Sam McQuate (151, one game) also competed.

The Rams finished 21st (3,540) of 42 teams behind champion Marion Harding (4,336).

At district, the top three individuals not on one of the three qualifying teams advance to the state tournament March 8 (girls) and March 9 (boys) at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.

Boys basketball team to begin postseason

After a first-round bye, the 31st-seeded boys basketball team visits ninth-seeded Newark in the second round of the Division I district tournament Friday, March 1.

The winner plays 12th-seeded Walnut Ridge or 14th-seeded Chillicothe in a semifinal Wednesday, March 6, at a neutral site.

The Rams are 10-12 after closing the regular season with 69-47 loss to visiting Grandview on Feb. 19. Dorsien Butler led Whitehall with 14 points.

Girls basketball team caps successful season

After going 1-22 last season, the girls basketball team rebounded to earn a Division II district tournament win and finish 14-10.

The 10th-seeded Rams lost at fourth-seeded Jonathan Alder 59-40 in the second round Feb. 22. Junior guard Kiara Bagley scored a game-high 23 points.

“We’re going in the right direction and we’re competing. That was the biggest goal for us this year,” coach Darrin Green said. “We wanted to make sure we were competing versus getting beat by 30 every time.”

Whitehall defeated 21st-seeded Columbus East 52-12 in the first round Feb. 20 at home. Bagley scored 12 points and freshman guard Brooklynn Greer added 11.

Sophomore guard Jewel Watkins was first-team all-MSL-Ohio Division. Bagley and junior forward Londen Coleman were second-team all-league.

Others eligible to return are juniors Kari Gullick (guard), Sahlena Harvey (guard), A’Nyah Jones (guard) and Izzy Simmons (guard), sophomores Liana Betts (forward) and Desira Henderson (guard) and freshman Kayla Bagley (guard).

“We finished 14-10 coming off a one-win season. You can’t complain about that,” Green said. “Every time we play somebody they always give us compliments about how the girls played. We appreciate that. It means a lot.”

Gymnast competes at district meet

Junior gymnast Rebekah Revadelo, who trains with Westerville Central, closed her season by competing in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.

Revadelo tied for 48th in the all-around (31.225). She tied for 46th on uneven bars (7.6), tied for 47th on balance beam (8.175), tied for 95th on floor exercise (7.85) and tied for 106th on vault (7.6).

The top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advanced to state Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Bradley.