Whitehall-Yearling High School boys track and field coach Aaron Johnson hopes a strong showing at his team's season-opening event is an indication of things to come.
The Rams finished second in the 12-team Booster Invitational on March 26 at Hamilton Township with 110 points, behind Gahanna (153.5).
Johnson, who is in his third season, expects to have a balanced lineup with positive results in the running, field and throwing events.
"I'm very excited for our season," he said. "We have a good crew of seniors in our field events. We have (Chris) Ceasar in the hurdles."
Ceasar, a senior who competes in hurdles, sprints and relays, won the 110-meter hurdles (14.79 seconds) and was second in the 300 hurdles (42.49) at Hamilton Township.
"I was ecstatic," he said. "It definitely made us motivated, seeing some good teams there. It made us more fired up as a team."
Ceasar, who is in his fourth season on the team, missed part of last season with a right hamstring injury.
"These past four years have been great for me," he said. "Even though last year I did get injured, I still had a reasonably good season. I went through a lot of rehab, a lot of strengthening to bounce back from last season to be able to come out strong this year."
Also at Hamilton Township, senior Hezekiah Freeman (long jump, hurdles) won the long jump (20 feet, 7 1/4 inches), senior Keon Freeman (throws) was second in the shot put (46-1/2) and senior Michael Bivens (throws) was third in the shot put (41-0).
Also finishing second were senior Raymell Byrd (sprints, high jump) in the high jump (6-0), Byrd, Ceasar and sophomores Anthony Hampton (middle distance, distance) and Keith Hodge (middle distance) in the 800 relay (1:34.43) and Hampton, senior Chris Charles (distance), sophomore Adonay Estifanos (distance) and freshman Daba Hordofe (distance) in the 3,200 relay (9:03.55).
Byrd, junior Christian Gordon (sprints) and freshmen Jeremiah Harrison (sprints) and Taron Biles-Walker (sprints) were third in the 400 relay (45.31).
Finishing fourth were Charles in the 1,600 (5:02.11), junior Charles Miller (sprints) in the 200 (23.53) and Hordofe in the 3,200 (11:27.24).
Sophomore Kyzion Freeman (long jump) should be another key contributor.
"We have a new group and it was good to see them compete," Johnson said. "I never really hope for a certain position as long as they get out and run hard."
The Rams finished seventh (58) in the 15-team Newark Invitational on March 30 behind champion St. Charles (85).
Ceasar won the 110 hurdles (15.16) and Hezekiah Freeman was first in the long jump (20-5 1/4).
Whitehall will compete in the MSL-Ohio Division meet May 7 and 10 at Bexley. Last season, the Rams finished fourth (63) behind champion Worthington Christian (130).
"We all want to compete and do our best and be able to have positive results," Casear said.
Girls track team lacks depth
Fourth-year girls track coach Stephanie Wilcox said her team lacks depth but features talented athletes.
Competing with a limited lineup, the Rams finished seventh (32.5) in the 13-team Hamilton Township Booster Invitational behind champion Gahanna (151).
"We had a very small team (at Hamilton Township), so I'm happy with the points we ended up with for the number of people we had," Wilcox said.
Junior Janatie Alvarez (sprints) led the Rams, finishing second in the 400 (1:01.3) and sixth in the 200 (27.91).
Junior Liana Betts (throws) was second in the discus (116-6) and fourth in the shot put (30-9 1/2).
Senior thrower Makhia Hinton, who is in her first season in the sport, was fifth in the shot put (30-4 1/2).
"I expect to score points with Makhia throwing," Wilcox said. "It's great to have a kid show up and have talent at something. You'd love to have it sooner."
Whitehall finished eighth (39) in the 15-team Newark Invitational behind champion Olentangy Orange (132). Alvarez won the 400 (1:03.02) and Betts was first in the discus (106-2).
Others expected to contribute include seniors Milan Atkins (hurdles, relays) and Kashell King (sprints, middle distance), juniors Selam Alebachew (distance), Rebekah Revadelo (high jump) and Izzy Simmons (long jump), sophomore Ry'Yair Smith (sprints) and freshmen Ililli Bakeye (hurdles) and Ka'Bree Sandifer (sprints).
In the MSL-Ohio meet last season, Whitehall placed sixth (22) behind champion Bexley (128).
Baseball coach earns first win
First-year baseball coach Johnny DeRing earned his first win as Whitehall defeated Ready 12-2 in five innings March 26 at home.
A.J. Scott had two hits to lead the Rams, who lost at Reynoldsburg 2-0 on March 28 and beat visiting Northland 9-8 on March 29. They were 2-1 before playing Reynoldsburg on April 3.
"We competed very well and capitalized on mistakes (against Ready)," DeRing said. "We dropped a tough one to Reynoldsburg. We competed well again and had some good at-bats."
Bradley Buchert homered against Northland.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 4 -- At Centerburg
April 5 -- At Caledonia River Valley
April 6 -- At Centennial (DH)
*April 8 -- At Bexley
April 9 -- At Westland
*April 10 -- Home vs. Bexley
April 6 -- Home vs. Licking Valley (DH)
*April 8 -- Home vs. Grandview
*April 5 -- At Wellington
April 8 -- Home vs. London
*April 9 -- At Grandview
April 10 -- Home vs. Teays Valley
TRACK & FIELD
April 9 -- At Liberty Union