A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Local high school teams, athletes posted impressive accomplishments during 2021-22 academic year

Jake Conrad kicks a 36-yard field goal that gave Beechwood a 23-21 win over Lexington Christian in the Class 1A football state championship game. (File photo by Dale Dawn)


By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Northern Kentucky high school sports got off to a raging start during the 2021-22 academic year when local teams claimed five state championships and four state runner-up trophies in fall sports.

There was a long break between season-ending victory celebrations until the spring when one local team won a state championship in track, but there were a lot of impressive accomplishments along the way.

Conner cross country runners pose for photos with Class 3A state championship trophy

On the last Saturday in October, Conner became the first Northern Kentucky high school to win a Class 3A state championship in boys cross country.

With five runners among the top 11 finishers, Conner posted a team score that was 66 points better than Louisville St. Xavier, the winner in eight of the previous 12 Class 3A state meets.

That same day, local runners won both the Class 1A boys and girls state cross country races for the first time since 2003 and St. Henry took the boys team title for the first time since 2012.

Beechwood senior Natnael Weldemichael became his school’s first state cross country champion after placing 15th the previous season. Brossart senior Claire Curtsinger won the girls race for the second consecutive year.

Villa Madonna was state runner-up in Class 1A boys and girls cross country and Scott placed second in the Class 2A girls state meet.

Notre Dame finished a record-setting girls soccer season with a 1-0 win over South Oldham in the state championship match. The Pandas set single-season state records for most wins with a 28-0-1 mark and most shutouts with 25. They also set a Northern Kentucky record for most goals in a season with 118.

Taylor Preston was the leading hitter on St. Henry’s state championship volleyball team.

Covington Catholic returned to the boys soccer state championship game for the first time since 2016 and lost to Lexington Dunbar, 2-1, on a goal scored with less than seven minutes remaining.

One week later, St. Henry’s volleyball team defeated Louisville Mercy, 21-15, 21-18, 21-14, in the state final. The Crusaders became the first small-school state champion in the unclassified sport since their 1981 team did it.

“We’ve said all year, ‘It’s time that we bring it back,’ and we did,” said St. Henry coach Maureen Kaiser, who was a freshman when the Crusaders won the state title 40 years ago.

Fall sports came to an end with Beechwood winning its second straight Class 2A football state title in dramatic fashion. Late in the fourth quarter, Jake Conrad converted a 36-yard field goal that gave the Tigers a 23-21 win over Lexington Christian, the top-ranked team in the playoff bracket.

In late February, Notre Dame senior Lainy Kruger won two swimming events and Cooper freshman Peytton Moore was the top scorer in diving at the girls state championship meet. Kruger finished first in the 100 breaststroke for the second consecutive year and picked up another gold medal in the 200 freestyle.

One week later, six local wrestlers made it to the state finals with Ryle seniors Cole Thomas and Noah Duke winning weight class titles. Thomas was named the state tournament’s most outstanding wrestler and became the third Northern Kentucky wrestler to finish his career with four consecutive state titles.

In basketball, Covington Catholic and Cooper were the boys and girls 9th Region champions and both teams made it to the state semifinals. It was the first time that a Cooper girls team won region while CovCath claimed its sixth title in 11 years under coach Scott Ruthsatz, who now holds the 9th Region record for most championship teams.

Holy Cross guard Jacob Meyer set a 9th Region basketball scoring record with 1,109 points.

The state’s leading scorer in boys basketball was Holy Cross junior guard Jacob Meyer with a 38.2 average and Newport Central Catholic senior Rylee Turner placed second among the girls at 26.3 points per game.

Meyer set a 9th Region record for most points in a season with 1,109. The previous record was 1,094 points by Scott Draud of Highlands in 1985-86. Meyer’s total ranks 10th in the state record books.

The only local team that won a state title in spring sports was Brossart in Class 1A girls track for the second consecutive year. Walton-Verona senior Maggie Buerger won the discus and shot put events at that meet. She set a Class 1A state record in the discus by reaching a distance of 128 feet, 11 inches.

In the boys Class 1A state track meet, Lloyd senior Jake Davidson won the pole vault for the fourth consecutive season and Weldemichael of Beechwood was a double-winner in the 1600 and 3200 runs.

Highlands placed second in the Class 2A boys state track meet with senior Jake Welch winning the 400 dash for the second consecutive year and sophomore Rilen Pinkston winning the pole vault to lead the Bluebirds.

Simon Kenton senior Mason Hammons placed second in the boys state archery tournament with a 293 score that was just two points behind the winner. Beechwood finished the baseball season with the state’s highest team batting average (.374) and tied for first in runs batted in (319).

Northern Kentucky tennis players reached the state semifinals in boys and girls singles and boys doubles, but none of them advanced to the finals. The singles players were Covington Latin junior Sara Watanabe and Covington Catholic sophomore Brady Hussey, who are expected to be state title contenders again next year.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment