Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Rams boys track coach sets high goals for squad

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Juniors Jeremiah Harrison (left) and Taron Biles-Walker should be key contributors in the sprinting events for the Whitehall-Yearling boys track and field team. The Rams are led by first-year coach Kyle Jefferson, a 2010 Whitehall graduate.

First-year Whitehall-Yearling boys track and field coach Kyle Jefferson has high expectations for his team, including the Rams defending their MSL-Ohio Division title from 2019. 

Jefferson was preparing to make his debut as coach last spring, but the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“We’re coming off two years ago being league champs and we expect being league champs again,” said Jefferson, a 2010 Whitehall graduate and former competitor in the program who was an assistant coach under Aaron Johnson in 2019. “I truly think we can with the guys we have.” 

Whitehall will play host to the league meet May 11 and 14. 

The Rams opened March 27 by finishing third (63) in the Zuber Relays behind champion and host Liberty Union (120). 

The 400-meter relay of juniors Taron Biles-Walker (sprints), Jeremiah Harrison (sprints) and Kevin Jackson (sprints) and freshman Andre Jackson (sprints) won in a meet-record 43.71 seconds. 

Senior Keith Hodge (middle sprints) returns after helping the Rams win the league title in 2019 as part of the first-place 800 relay (1:31.48). 

“We’re all competitive,” Hodge said. “Coach said we had a good meet (at Liberty Union). There are things we need to work on. ... I hope to go to regional this year and compete at that level. I just have to keep working hard.” 

Another key contributor should be senior Anthony Hampton, who will specialize in the 800, according to Jefferson. 

Jefferson also is looking for key contributions from senior Jaiion Lowe (discus, sprints), junior Daba Hordofe (400, 800) and sophomore Paul Fetherolf (shot put, discus). 

“It’s exciting to see where these kids are going to be at because a lot of these kids on our team have never run at the high school level,” Jefferson said. “They maybe ran in middle school. I’m pretty excited to see what we’re going to look like this year.” 

BOYS TRACK & FIELD 

Coach: Kyle Jefferson, first season 

Next meet: April 10 at Big Walnut Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays 

Key athletes: Taron Biles-Walker, Anthony Hampton, Jeremiah Harrison, Keith Hodge and Jaiion Lowe 

Kyle Jefferson is in his first season as Whitehall boys track coach, while Stephanie Wilcox is in her fifth season as girls coach.

Girls team seeks 

continued progress 

The girls track team is hoping for continued progress under fifth-year coach Stephanie Wilcox. 

Whitehall opened by finishing seventh (15) in the Zuber Relays behind co-champions Fairfield Union and Liberty Union (112). 

Senior Ry’Yair Smith (sprints, relays, hurdles) has joined the program while also playing softball.

Other key contributors should include seniors Cierra Battiste (discus, shot put) and Hailee Franklin (discus, shot put), junior Kayla Bagley (sprints, 400, relays) and sophomore Kaseena Reese (sprints). 

“We’re kind of stacked with our (400 relay) in girls,” said Jefferson, who also assists in coaching the girls team. “We should have four girls who can do pretty well. ... Our sprints are strong, a lot stronger than they were two years ago.” 

Smith, Bagley, Reese, junior Ka’Bree Sandifer and sophomore Jaliyah Hunter are competing to be part of the relay.

GIRLS TRACK & FIELD 

Coach: Stephanie Wilcox, fifth season 

Next meet: April 10 at Big Walnut Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays 

Key athletes: Cierra Battiste, Hailee Franklin, Kaseena Reese and Ry’Yair Smith

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank