Despite a stumble in one of his key events, Whitehall-Yearling High School senior Chris Ceasar was pleased with his performance in the Division I, district 1 boys track and field meet.
He entered the regional May 22 seeking his first state berth. The meet concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North, and the top four finishers in each event advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Ceasar qualified for regional in the 110-meter hurdles and 800 relay, but he stumbled over the first hurdle in the 300 hurdles and placed eighth in 44.88 seconds. The top four in each district event qualified for regional.
"The 110 and 300 (hurdles) are my favorite events, but it was unfortunate that I messed up," Ceasar said. "I was feeling a little unsure of myself and light-headed, but I was just trying to get the right mindset to get out there and finish strong. What matters is I finished (the 300 hurdles) and didn't let that bring me down."
Ceasar finished second in the 110 hurdles (14.96) and joined Keith Hodge, Christian Gordon and Charles Miller on the third-place 800 relay (1:29.26).
"(Advancing to regional) means a lot," Ceasar said. "I went my (sophomore) year with a group of seniors and having the feeling of being there is just an awesome feeling. Being back there in my individual race and also the 800 relay is amazing."
Coach Aaron Johnson was pleased with Ceasar's effort despite the mishap in the 300 hurdles.
"We're a little disappointed, but he still has a really great chance in his 110 hurdles," Johnson said. "Both his relays (had season bests) as well, so that was good. We're peaking at the right time when it matters, when it counts."
Ceasar and the 800 relay advanced to regional along with a handful of teammates.
Keon Freeman was second in the shot put (47 feet, 7 1/2 inches), Raymell Byrd was third in the high jump (6-0), Hezekiah Freeman was fourth in the long jump (21-9 1/4) and Michael Bivens was fourth in the shot put (46-5 1/4).
Byrd, Gordon, Miller and Rashaad Strickland were fourth in the 400 relay (43.66), and Miller was fifth in the 200 (22.8) to just miss a regional berth in that event.
The Rams finished sixth (51 points) at district, which concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby, behind champion Pickerington Central (137) as 17 teams scored.
"I thought I could have done a lot better, but I'm going to regional," said Hezekiah Freeman, a senior who competed in his first regional. "I'll get some more practices in (and) work on my form."
Liana Betts was the girls team's lone regional qualifier, finishing second in the discus (118-4).
Makhia Hinton was fifth in the shot put (36-4 1/4), and Whitehall finished 14th (12) behind champion Darby (106) as 17 teams scored.
Softball coach enjoys first season
The softball team finished 4-15 overall and 3-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division under first-year coach Kirsten Turner.
"Stepping into my first season, I really didn't know what to think," Turner said. "I was unsure of how it would go and how successful I would be as a young coach. I think being a young coach is what made this season so successful, for me at least. I related to (the players), bonded with them, had heart-to-hearts with them and, most importantly, I learned with them."
Sophomore Mackenzie Schmittauer (OF/SS) led the Rams in batting average at .290, followed by junior Kaila Daugherty (P) at .279.
In the circle, Daugherty had 76 strikeouts and pitched a no-hitter in a 13-0 five-inning win at 16th-seeded Beechcroft in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 7.
The 18th-seeded Rams lost at fifth-seeded Granville 16-1 in five innings in the second round May 9.
Alyson Shoemaker (SS/OF) led a three-player senior class and was a four-year letterwinner.
Also eligible to return are juniors Nyasia McCrary (utility) and Kamdon Pauley (1B), sophomores Kylie Brown (C), Trystan Caldwell (utility), Shyaira Johnson (2B), Cameron Pharo (utility), Ashley Villeda (OF/C) and Kyland Wooden (OF/utility) and freshmen Brooklynn Greer (3B), Morgan Koons (OF) and Hailey Roberts (utility).
"We had a very young team this season that wasn't scared to come out and stand up against Division I teams," Turner said. "Our heart and determination was our game-winner this season and I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to start my career at Whitehall with."
Baseball team loses in opening round
The 46th-seeded baseball team lost at 27th-seeded Delaware 8-3 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 14.
The Rams finished 3-17.