Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Rams' Ry’Yair Smith wrapping up four-sport career

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Whitehall-Yearling senior Ry’Yair Smith is winding down a prep career that saw her compete for the Rams in track and field, softball, basketball and soccer. “I like all sports,” she said. “Just whatever season it is, I prepare for it and I’m ready to play.”

While some of her teammates might have received more attention, Whitehall-Yearling senior Ry’Yair Smith established herself as a solid contributor in four sports because of a strong work ethic. 

“My time at Whitehall was incredible,” Smith said. “They’ve shaped me into the person I am today and they’ve prepared me for the next level of my sports in college.” 

Smith is closing out her prep career by helping to lead the softball and girls track and field teams this spring. 

She is capping her track career by competing in the 200 meters, 100 hurdles and long jump during the MSL-Ohio Division meet, which was held May 11 and 14 at Whitehall, and the Division I, district 2 meet May 18, 19 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. 

The boys track team is participating in the district 1 meet May 18, 20 and 22. At district, the top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North. 

Along with the three individual events, Smith has teamed with Kayla Bagley, Chaniya Harris, Kaseena Reese and Jaliyah Hunter in the 400 relay. 

“Ry’Yair is definitely up there as far as our sprinters go,” coach Kyle Jefferson said. “She’s one of our top athletes. She was a sophomore two years ago and contributing pretty well to the team. I assumed she was going to be a big contributor this year, so it’s not a huge surprise.” 

Smith was hoping to establish new personal-best performances in her individual events before her prep career ends. 

She had a personal-best 13 feet, 8 1/2 inches in the long jump earlier this season. She set her top times in the 100 hurdles (17.35 seconds) and 200 (30.22) as a sophomore. 

“I love the hurdles,” Smith said. “It gives me something to do while I’m running. My goal is to beat my personal bests.” 

Smith and her teammates were hoping to have strong league and district meets after not being able to compete last season with the cancellation of spring sports because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Jefferson said Smith has been a solid leader for the program, including recruiting several girls in the offseason to join the team. 

Considered a team-first athlete by coaches, Smith joined the softball team after the season started when she learned it was short of players. It was the first time she participated in the sport. 

Smith quickly emerged as the starting center fielder because of her speed. 

“They needed some extra players and it turns out I’m good at it,” she said. “It’s a fun sport. I find it fascinating.” 

Smith competed in basketball in the winter, assuming several roles for coach Quentin Taylor’s team because of injuries and illnesses. 

“She did a little bit of everything,” Taylor said. “She was our best perimeter defender and on-ball perimeter defender. She became our point guard, which was a new role for her. She also stepped into a role as a captain. She’s a very quiet young lady, but became very vocal for us as the season went on. She did any and everything for us to help us win. 

“She’s definitely a tough-nosed player. ... She’s a special one.” 

Smith also played forward for the soccer team in the fall, again using her speed as an advantage. 

“I like all sports,” she said. “Just whatever season it is, I prepare for it and I’m ready to play. ... I’m a quick learner. I’m hands-on and if I see it, I just learn how to do it.” 

Smith is undecided on where she will attend college, but hopes to compete in multiple sports.

“It came up fast on me, but I’m prepared to move on to the next level,” she said. “I’m not decided yet, but I have a lot of colleges in mind. I know sports will be in my future. I’m going to play multiple sports. I’m an all-around athlete.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank