Beechwood girls, Walton-Verona boys claim state track and field titles

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

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Much like the temperature, results were coming in hot for Northern Kentucky student-athletes at the Class A state track-and-field meet at the University of Kentucky Track and Field Complex.

Especially for the Beechwood girls and Walton-Verona boys, blazing their way to team state championships. The Beechwood girls scored 100 points on their way to the second title in program history and the Walton-Verona boys scored 64 for the first state championship in school history.

Girls State Results

Three teams from Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties finished in the top 10 out of 38 teams. Defending state champion Bishop Brossart took second with 68 points and St. Henry finished tied for ninth with 28.

Beechwood won it after taking second in the Region 4 meet just more than a week ago. A number of the runners helped the Beechwood girls win their first state championship in cross country in the fall.

“They’re very talented young ladies,” said David Meyers, Beechwood head coach. “I’m very fortunate to work with them. It was an amazing outing. I’m very impressed with these girls.”

The Beechwood girls dominated in the relays, distance and sprinting events, combining for 96 points in those events. Beechwood placed first or second in all four relay events.

“We knew coming in that were dependent on some high-scoring events,” Meyers said. “We came through and double pointed in some events. There were a number of people that contributed.”

The Tigers put the punctuation mark on the meet winning the 4×400 meter relay in 4:11.10. Juniors Maddy Brauch, Maryah Counts, freshman Lily Parke and junior Catie Hazzard ran the legs.

“It felt nice,” Hazzard said. “I was in the first and second handoff. It ran really smooth so that was easier for me to get out and save some seconds.”

Beechwood also won the 4×800 relay in 1:45.81. Brauch and Counts ran legs in that one along with sophomore Lana Holt and junior Katie Kocan.

“All of our hard work is paying off so it’s been a great day,” Kocan said. “It’s been a long year. We started practicing in January in the snow.”

Beechwood also took second in the 4×100 in 51.19 seconds and the 4×800 in 10:04.81. Brauch, sophomore Rylie Kidman, Kocan and sophomore Grace Mooney ran the legs in the 400 with Holt, Hazzard, sophomore Charli Gerrein and Parke running legs in the two-mile.

“We’ve been handing off to each other all year,” Holt said. “We’re so close as a team that it makes it easier to work together. We’ve been working hard on our handoffs these past two weeks just making sure we got them right.”

The Tigers had two place in a number of the distance and sprinting events. Parke and Gerrein took runner-up and fifth in 5:18.28 and 5:27.14 in the 1,600. Parke also finished third in the 800 in 2:22.17.

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Beechwood captured 14 points in the 3,200. Freshman Nora Wilke finished second in 12:02.11.

“It’s just wonderful,” Wilke said. “It takes a lot of endurance. It gets hot out there. But when you’re out there, you don’t really feel a ton of pain. A lot of breathing has to go into it.”

Sophomore Isabel Ginter followed her taking third in 12:04.57. The two could not catch Trimble County senior Kinley Kunkel, who ran away by nearly 20 seconds at 11:42.01. But they did hold off a challenge from Lexington Christian Academy freshman Annalise Randles, who took fourth in 12:07.02.

The Tigers took the second and third spots in the 400. Brauch took second in 1:00.31 and Counts finished third by just .41 seconds behind Brauch.

Kocan took third in the 100 in 12.53 seconds and the 200 in 22.99 seconds. Counts added two points taking seventh in 26.92 in the 200.

“I think we’re doing well,” Counts said. “The heat is not really getting to most of us.”

Beechwood’s other four points came in the field events. Tigers senior Sarah Sizemore took fifth in the high jump going up 4-feet-10 inches.

Brossart scored its most points in the jumps with 21. Senior Chloe Hein won the long jump in 17-feet-8.75 inches. Hein helped Brossart win the 400 relay with Lauren Gooderson, Zoey Woosley and Hayley Hickman in 50.36 seconds.

“We went into this knowing there was a chance we wouldn’t be coming back to win the state championship,” Hein said. “But we knew we were running for ourselves and our team. I feel that really mattered for everyone, especially the seniors. Seeing how far these girls have come is really being put together now. It’s been great to see that pay off.”

Senior Miranda Csordas took third in the triple jump at 34-0.25. She also added a point taking eighth in the high jump at 4-10.

“I think I just didn’t stress out too much,” Csordas said. “I knew what I was doing so I just had to go for it and not worry about fouling. My skills just took over.”

Senior Amy Klocke finished her career on a strong note. Klocke finished sixth in the 1,600 in 5:29.32 and fifth in the 3,200 in 12:19.06. Klocke also helped the 4×800 relay team with Alia Thomas, Hannah Kramer and Peyton Trauth take third in 10:18.13.

Newport sophomore Andora Riley and junior Anna Guard placed in the shot put and discus. Riley took second in the shot put throwing 34 feet, 4.5 inches. Riley also scored two points in the discus throwing 110-2.

“I came in with the mindset that I was going to (personal record) in both,” Riley said. “I hit both of them. I just think it’s a mindset thing because practice is where you get your physical. If you practice hard, you play hard. Then you just have to get your mind right going into the meet.”

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Guard finished third in both events scoring 12 points for the Crusaders. She threw a 34-4 in the shot put and 118-5 in the discus. Senior Cassidy Cline added 5.5 points tying for third in the high jump at 4-10.

“It definitely helps you prevent different injuries,” Guard said of playing more than one sport. “You can definitely work on your vertical and use other muscles. That makes you stronger and gives you an advantage in other sports.”

St. Henry owns the most girls track-and-field state championships in the area in 1A with 11. Brossart owns seven with Newport Central Catholic winning three. Bellevue, Beechwood and Dayton have two each.

The Walton-Verona boys captured the first Class 1A state championship in school history Thursday at the University of Kentucky Track and Field Complex. G. Michael Graham | LINK nky contributor

Boys State Results

Teams from Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties took four of the top seven spots. With the Bearcats in first and after Louisville Collegiate finished runner-up with 56 points, Bishop Brossart took third with 53.5 points and St. Henry finished fourth with 48 points. Beechwood took seventh with 40.

“They were just firing (Thursday),” said Phil Amstutz, Walton-Verona head coach. “We just had all sort of guys show up on the day you need them to show up. We have been working so hard and it’s so great to have a unified team. They all did their part.”

Walton-Verona’s state championship comes after finishing fourth in the Region 4 meet at Bishop Brossart just more than a week ago.

“Our region is so power-packed,” Amstutz said. “But I told our team we’re a state team because our bigs could be big. Four events in, our confidence was through the roof and we just carried it through the meet.”

The Bearcats scored most of their points in the the relays with 26. But junior Jackson Smith won two sprinting events capturing the 100-meter dash in 11.07 seconds and the 200 in 22.18.

“I’d say the key to that is really just getting a good nights sleep,” Smith said. “That’s number one. Two is just having the mindset. Going in thinking you’re going to win definitely helps a lot. The work I put in practice definitely paid off.”

Senior Grady Shay won the 110 hurdles in 15.32 seconds and captured fourth in the 300 hurdles in 42.2 seconds. Louisville Collegiate junior Oliver Veliquette won the 300 hurdles in 40.53.

“It felt good to win the 110,” Shay said. “I’m kind of disappointed in my 300. But I got points for my team. I’m just proud to be able to help get us the lead that we got.”

Shay and Smith also helped the Bearcats win the 4×200 relay in 1:31.49. Freshman Hunter League and eighth grader Tyson Smith had the other two legs. The same four helped Walton-Verona to a runner-up finish in the 4×100 relay in 43.76 seconds. Mayfield edged them by .10 seconds to win that relay.

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The Bearcats opened the day taking second in the 4×800 relay in 8:23.26. Eighth grader Wyatt Shearer, juniors Logan Pronk, Seth Cockrell and senior Carson Milner ran legs in that race.

Amstutz said he switched relay orders for the state meet. Smith always anchored the 400 relay. But Amstutz moved him from that spot. Then he put Milner in the lead for the 4×800.

“We did something we haven’t done all season,” Amstuz said. “(Opponents) had to catch us. There’s no strategy. When you’re out there, don’t put nerves in it. Just run and that’s exactly what they did.”

Milner and Shay are both seniors for the Bearcats. Milner scored Walton-Verona’s other three points taking sixth in the 1,600 in 4:33.17.

“I can say it for the rest of my life,” Milner said of winning the state championship. “I competed for my school to the best of my ability for it. Growing up, you see all the teams and admire them. I feel the younger kids seeing us win, it gives them hope.”

Brossart opened the day winning the 4×800 relay in 8:18.57. Team members were Ryan Clines, Brennen Callahan, Nick Heck and Nathan Ruth. Ruth also took sixth in the 800 in 1:59.32.

“I just want to get out in the first 200. It ended up paying off,” Ruth said. “It’s all about training. You have to keep going at the same pace. You can’t slow down.”

Luke Piscitello, Mason Meyer, Ryan Keller and Nolan Jordan helped the Brossart 400 relay team finish fourth in 44.7 seconds. Piscitello, Clines, Callahan and Landon Bain ran on the fourth-place Brossart 4×400 relay team in 3:33.83.

St. Henry’s 4×800 relay team of Lake Durrett, Dixon Ryan, Jeff Stewart and Sam Baker took third in 8:24.67 and the Beechwood team of Javontae Cranmo, Christopher Roberdeaux, Samson Weldemichael and Robert Wilke took fourth in 8:30.17. Dixon took fifth in the 3,200 in 10:01.88.

The Crusaders also placed second and third in the 300 hurdles. Juniors Josh Brockman and James Noble took second and third in 40.63 and 42.05 seconds respectively. Brockman said he was close, but could not catch Louisville Collegiate junior Oliver Veliquette, who won it by .1 seconds.

Beechwood sophomore Luke Erdman took second in the 100-meter dash in 11.12 behind Smith.

“I really enjoy going against Jackson,” Erdman said. “He provides tough competition. We run in a lot of the same meets together.

Brossart owns four state championships in school history and St. Henry has three. Those are the most in northern Kentucky in 1A behind Bellevue’s five.

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