A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Prep Sports Notebook: High school teams had successful year despite pandemic disruptions

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Northern Kentucky high school teams won seven state championships and 11 state runner-up trophies during the 2020-21 academic year that was often disrupted by necessary safety measures taken during the pandemic.  

Three of the seven state titles came in sports that are not classified by enrollment. Notre Dame started it off by winning the state volleyball tournament that had to be moved back to November.

Highlands boys basketball players celebrate after winning state’s most coveted championship. (File photo by Dale Dawn)

Cooper claimed its first state championship in girls bowling in late March. One week later, the Highlands boys basketball team won four games in three days during the “Sweet 16” state tournament to capture Kentucky’s most coveted state title.

The local teams that won state championships in classified sports were Beechwood (Class A football), St. Henry (All “A” Classic boys basketball) and Bishop Brossart (Class A girls cross country and track).

Highlands topped the list of local teams that took state runner-up trophies. The Bluebirds placed second in boys swimming, Class AA girls cross country and Class AA boys track.

Walton-Verona made it to All “A” Classic state championship games in girls basketball and baseball, but the Bearcats lost both times.

Local athletes won several individual state championships in cross country, track, swimming and wrestling. In the girls state bowling finals, Highlands senior Abby Bach outscored Cooper senior Ranelle Ulanday to take the singles crown.

In statewide coaches polls, four local athletes were voted the top participant in their sport this year. That list includes Cameron Hergott of Beechwood (football), Lauren Carothers of Notre Dame (girls soccer) Spencer Moore of Walton-Verona (wrestling) and Macy Krohman of Simon Kenton (softball).

Rylan Wotherspoon of Cooper was named Mr. Kentucky Golf after finishing on top in point standings compiled by the Kentucky Golf Coaches Association.

Highlands boys basketball player Sam Vinson and Ryle boys soccer player Noah Moeller were named Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year in their respective sports. That award recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.

Two football players make commitments with Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky University’s football team received verbal commitments from Luke Slusher of Beechwood and Evan Wibberly of Dixie Heights last Monday.

Both players were recruited as offensive tackles, but they also played on the defensive front line last season when Beechwood won the Class 2A state championship and Dixie Heights made it to the third round of the Class 6A playoffs.

Wibberly, listed as 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, said he received a scholarship offer from Western Kentucky last March. Other college teams that showed an interest in him were Austin Peay, Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Missouri State, Murray State and Youngstown State.

Slusher (6-foot-5, 290-pounds) has played on Beechwood’s varsity team the last two years. He was also being recruited by Marshall, Furman, Murray State, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Elon, Air Force Academy and Dartmouth.

Beechwood quarterback Cameron Hergott recently made a commitment with Eastern Kentucky University. He was named Mr. Kentucky Football after passing for 2,467 yards and 26 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,078 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.

Villa Madonna hires new head coach for girls basketball program

Villa Madonna Academy has hired Katie Kortekamp to be the new head coach of its girls basketball program.

Kortekamp was a four-year varsity starter at St. Ursula Academy in Cincinnati. She went on to play at Loyola University of Chicago, where she was a three-year starter at point guard.

“Katie has been very successful as a player at both the high school and college levels,” said Villa Madonna athletic director Jim Demler. “She will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our players.”

Kortekamp replaces Brian Coburn, whose teams compiled an 82-112 record over the last seven seasons. The last time Vila Madonna made it to the 9th Region tournament was 2011.

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