Highlands Athletics 2020-2021 Season in Review (Part II)

Bluebirds Captured All Seven 36th District Tournament Crowns

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands girls soccer team won a third straight 9th Region crown this year.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two stories. You can read the first story here, highlighting the year’s state champs and runner-ups. 

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The Highlands Bluebirds won all seven 36th District Tournament championships for the first time under the current format.

The soccer and volleyball teams moved to the current format in 2012. Highlands might have won all seven crowns last year if Cornavirus 2019 had not wiped out the spring season. Coronavirus 2019 pushed back all three seasons except for golf.

The Highlands boys golf team won a region title for the second time in three years. The Bluebirds then placed a program-best sixth at state with 661 strokes. Senior Justin Gabbard had a chance at an individual crown but finished tied for fifth with 143 strokes.

The Highlands girls soccer team won a third straight 9th Region title with a 3-0 win over Dixie Heights. The Bluebirds hoped for another deep run in the state tournament. But eventual state runner-up Lexington Catholic edged Highlands, 1-0 on penalty kicks at Tower Park. Highlands finished 15-2-2 on the season.

The Highlands girls golf team saw Ellie Rowland and KJ Toole qualify for the state match individually for the second year in a row. Toole became the first individual to qualify for the second day since 2010. The Bluebirds placed fourth in the Region 8 Tournament.


The Highlands boys soccer team hoped for a third straight region title. But Ryle beat Highlands, 3-1 in the region semifinals. The Bluebirds finished 10-4-2 on the year.

The Highlands volleyball team finished 13-8 on the season winning a fourth straight district championship. The Bluebirds lost 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-16) to Cooper in the first round of the 9th Region Tournament.

The Highlands football team finished 5-6 on the season. It may have been far from expectations surrounding a program that owns 23 state championships in school history.

But the Bluebirds played hard, especially the 21 seniors, even in games where opponents outmatched them. Highlands wound up beating Conner, 27-16 in the first round of the playoffs before battling Covington Catholic to the end in a 38-21 defeat.

Highlight wins of the season came at Conner, 36-0 on Oct. 3 and in a 23-14 at Ryle on Sept. 18. Conner won twice over Highlands in 2019 including the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Ryle finished 6-4 on the season.

The Highlands boys cross country team finished fifth at state in Class 2A. The Bluebirds finished runner-up in the Class 2A, Region 4 meet.

The Highlands girls basketball team recorded a ninth straight season of 20 or more wins finishing 20-7 with a seventh straight district tournament championship. The Bluebirds beat Covington Holy Cross, 59-43 in the first round of the 9th Region Tournament before losing 54-42 to eventual region champion Dixie Heights.

The Highlands girls swimming and diving team finished fourth at the Region 7 Meet. They wound up scoring nine points at state finishing tied for 30th.

The Highlands boys bowling team lost 3-1 in the Region 5 Quarterfinals to Newport Central Catholic. The highest an individual placed in the region tournament was 17th.

The Highlands girls archery team finished sixth in the Region 6 Tournament. Junior Kierra Guttadauro led the way shooting a 282 good for fourth. Junior Madison Opitz also qualified for state finishing seventh with a 281.

The Highlands boys archery team finished 10th out of 12 teams in the Region 6 Tournament. The highest an individual placed was 33rd.

The Highlands wrestling team had its first season on varsity. The Bluebirds placed 12th out of 13 teams in the Region 6 meet with 15 points.

The Highlands cheer and dance teams saw limited appearances at events this year. The Highlands competitive dance team placed runner-up in the Pom category and seventh in Hip Hop after winning the Hip Hop and Pom crowns at the Section 3 events.

The Highlands boys tennis team finished 20-2 during the regular season including a win over eventual 9th Region champion Covington Catholic. The Highlands girls did not have anyone qualify for state.

The Highlands freshman doubles team of Eli Back and Eli Hornsby finished region runner-up before winning two games at the state tournament. Highlands senior Peter Laskey qualified for state in singles. He won one match at state.

The Highlands softball team finished an impressive 28-10 on the season. After winning the district tournament, the Bluebirds lost 7-3 to Cooper in the first round of the 9th Region Tournament.

The Highlands baseball team finished 21-17 winning a ninth straight district tournament. But the Bluebirds lost 6-4 to Ryle in the first round of the region tournament.

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