Track & Field: Whitehall-Yearling Rams boys running strong in 400 relay

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Whitehall-Yearling's boys 400-meter relay of Taron Biles-Walker, Andre Jackson, Kevin Jackson and Jeremiah Harrison has been closing in on the program record of 42.62 seconds. The relay had a top time of 43.28 entering the week.

Four members of the Whitehall-Yearling boys track and field team are sprinting with extra purpose.

Juniors Taron Biles-Walker, Jeremiah Harrison and Kevin Jackson and freshman Andre Jackson are hoping to make a postseason run in the 400-meter relay and eclipse the program record along the way.

With the cancellation of spring sports last year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Biles-Walker, Kevin Jackson and Harrison considered not competing this season so they could prepare for football in the fall. However, assistant track coach Darryl Hammock convinced the three they should continue their track careers, according to coach Kyle Jefferson.

The 400 relay has been pacing the Rams this spring. 

“They get focused when they’re out on the track and even in football,” Jefferson said. “When it’s time to focus, they definitely know how to get in the zone and run a race. Outside of track, all four are good kids.” 

Biles-Walker has led off the relay, followed by Andre Jackson, Kevin Jackson and Harrison as the anchor. 

The four turned in their best time of 43.28 seconds while winning the event in the Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays on April 10 at Big Walnut.  

Raymell Byrd, Christian Gordon, Charles Miller and Raashad Strickland set the program record of 42.62 in 2019. 

“I’m not surprised,” Biles-Walker said. “I always felt that we could do well because I know everyone on my relay. Everybody has to stay focused.” 

Kevin Jackson also is not surprised by the success because the runners have strong chemistry. 

“I knew we were going to be able to do it, but I didn’t think it was going to happen this fast,” he said. “We’re closing in on this pretty fast.” 

Andre Jackson quickly made a positive impression on his teammates and Jefferson.

“I didn’t think I would be on (the relay),” he said. “When the season started, they put me on it and I just ran with it.”

The four set meet records at Big Walnut and while finishing first in the Zuber Relays (43.71) on March 27 at Liberty Union. 

“After the first meet, they ran a pretty good time and they realized a lot of the meet records are within reach,” Jefferson said. “They tend to look at those as soon as the meets start just to set a goal for themselves.” 

Biles-Walker, Kevin Jackson and Harrison also compete on the 800 relay with senior Keith Hodge.

The Rams are preparing for the postseason by competing in the MSL-Ohio Division meet this week at home. It began May 11 and will conclude May 14. 

Whitehall, seeded 38th, will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet May 18, 20 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North. 

Jefferson expects the 400 and 800 relays to contend for regional berths, along with Harrison in the 100.

The girls team is seeded 48th and will compete in the district 2 meet May 18, 19 and 22 at Darby. 

Jefferson expects Ry’Yair Smith in the hurdles and Kaseena Reese in the sprints to lead the Rams during the postseason.

Whitehall competed in the 71st annual Marion Night Invitational on April 30.

The boys tied for 10th (27) behind champion Ashland (89) as Biles-Walker, Andre Jackson, Kevin Jackson and Hodge were second in the 400 relay (44.4).

The girls finished 14th (3) behind champion Mansfield Madison (98).

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank