2022 NKY girls cross country preview: Local teams reload for run at state

G. Michael Graham
G. Michael Graham
Mike Graham covers sports for LINK nky

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Northern Kentucky girls cross country teams are setting their sights on another strong run at state title contention.

Last year saw Villa Madonna claim second place in Class A, while Scott also finished runner-up in Class 2A.

Here’s a look at some of the top teams locally:

Beechwood Tigers

Beechwood returns six runners after placing fourth at state last year in Class 1A. The top placer was sophomore Isabel Ginter at eighth with a time of 20 minutes, 48.02 seconds.

The other five returning from that team are juniors Catie Hazzard, Ava Drews and sophomores Annie Harris, Maggie Greiner and Lana Holt. Head Coach Tricia Sturgeon said seniors Ava White, Caroline Amos, Dory Smith and freshman Lily Parke could also figure in the mix.

“Their team chemistry is just a carry-over from last year where I think they kind of surprised a lot of people placing fourth at state,” Sturgeon said. “They work so well together. They’re so supportive of each other.”

Bishop Brossart Lady ‘Stangs

Bishop Brossart took third in Class 1A last year but Claire Curtsinger captured the individual crown in 19:39.92.

Curtsinger took her talents to the University of Cincinnati.

Senior Amy Klocke returns after placing fourth at state last year. Seniors Natalie Reis and Cora Bertsch also return. Head Coach Tony Harden listed eighth grader Anna Curtsinger as someone to watch.

“The returning runners are extremely dedicated to making this a successful season as a team,” Harden said. “We lost a lot from last year’s team. But this group is ready to step up to the challenge and continue the success that is Bishop Brossart Cross Country. I am extremely confident that our current runners will give each other 100 percent daily and that gap will close before the end of the season.”

The Lady ‘Stangs own three Class 1A state championships in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

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St. Henry Crusaders

The Crusaders took fifth in the Class 2A state meet last year and return five runners from that team. Mackenzie McMain led the way placing fifth at state last year.

Junior Sara Kleier and Sydney Bollman return along with sophomores Chloe Hurm and Grace Gulla. Head Coach Anne Beck listed junior Molly Kamer and freshman Kelsey Bollman as runners to watch this year.

“The ones that did get to race weren’t really experienced,” Beck said. “So the fact that we have it all together this year is going to be big. They show a passion for running and a passion for teamwork that is so awesome to coach.”

St. Henry owns the most state championships in Kentucky High School Athletic Association history with 16. The last one came in 2016.

Villa Madonna Vikings

Villa may have graduated some key runners from last year’s Class 1A state runner-up squad but junior Maddie Bailey and freshmen Alyssa Martin and Lena Schroeder return.

Head Coach Brian Rapien said eighth grader Norie Barker is looking good in the preseason.

“It’s really cool to see their growth,” Rapien said. “They’ve been able to sit there and look at what all of the group of last year’s seniors did. They were great role models for the girls now. I think they’re really excited too. The team is theirs. They control quite a bit as to where we go from here.”

Scott Lady Eagles

Scott graduated one runner off its team that finished Class 2A, Region 4 champion and state runner-up. The Lady Eagles beat Lexington Catholic for the region title before LexCath came back to win state.

Junior Maddie Strong returns after taking sixth at state last year in 19:45.63. Senior Allison Clemons, juniors Ellie Stratman, Lorin Neal along with sophomore Ansley Lindloff and eighth grader Grace Klim also return.

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“I think coming out of these two (COVID) years, the girls are more determined than ever to come back and have a strong finish this year,” said Zach Triplett, Scott head coach. “We’re really looking forward to doubling down and going back to the basics of training making sure that everyone’s hearts are set on getting out of region then finding that medal, that trophy at state. The girls are one in the same and really want it.”

The Eagles have won three state championships in school history, including consecutive Class 2A titles in 2018 and 2019. Scott won the Class 3A crown in 1998.

Highlands Bluebirds

The Bluebirds finished 11th at state last year after finishing second in the Class 2A, Region 4 meet. They return six runners that ran at the state meet in Paris last year.

Eighth grader Ella Taylor led the way taking 22nd place. Her twin sister Sophie Taylor also ran at state last year. The other four returning runners from state last year are senior Eden Brumer and freshmen Isabella Neufarth, Sydney Houlihan and Rosalyn Brown. Senior Ruby Smith and sophomore Fiona McIntosh are candidates to fill the seventh spot. Junior Kate Jamie also plays soccer, but intends to run in races.

“The girls have been training really hard and it shows. Most of our team is still really young,” said Brian Alessandro, Highlands head coach. “We only have a few seniors, which is great for the program. But also, it seems like these young girls have been around for a while. They caught on quickly. They’ll run minutes faster.”

Highlands owns 11 Class 2A state championships in school history. The Bluebirds three-peated twice between 1978 to 1990 and 2002 to 2004 before winning four in a row from 2012 through 2015. The last crown came in 2017.

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Ryle Lady Raiders

Ryle graduated four runners from last year’s fifth-place team at state. The Lady Raiders have won three consecutive Class 3A, Region 5 championships. Sophomore Allison Kopser returns after finishing fourth at state last year.

Juniors Ella Breckenridge and Stella Ascherman also return.

Entering his fourth season, Head Coach Shawn Proffitt hopes to see seniors Maddie Berner and Megan Niehaus along with sophomore Isabelle Morin fill in some roles.

“The expectations are not as high as they have been the last two years,” Proffitt said. “But they reality of where the girls want to be is really high. They don’t want to let their teammates down.”

Campbell County Camels

The Camels finished 15th at state last year and welcome back one of the top runners in the state in sophomore Olivia Holbrook, who finished seventh individually in last year’s Class 3A state meet.

Four others off that team return: seniors Emilie Zengel, Kaitlyn Strange and sophomores Aidan Christopher and Ryann McKee.

“We have a core group that is very dedicated in the offseason,” said Toni McKee, Campbell County head coach. “We have several who went to running camps this year. We have an (iphone) app where they record their runs and they can cheer each other on virtually through that. They met several times over the summer to run. We focus a lot on our core and stability and I’ve seen a lot of them continue to do those things in the offseason. We’re excited to come back with that team chemistry and see where we fall this year.”

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