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Walton-Verona boys, Beechwood girls pull off surprising sweep in Class 1A state track meet

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Northern Kentucky teams sweeping state titles in Class 1A track and field comes as no surprise, but few people expected the Walton-Verona boys and Beechwood girls to pull it off Thursday at the University of Kentucky.

Neither of those teams won a championship trophy in the Region 4 qualifying meet last week. Walton-Verona finished fourth in the boys point standings and Beechwood was runner-up in the girls meet. But both teams stepped it up in Thursday’s season finale.

Walton-Verona junior Jackson Smith, left, and Beechwood sophomore Luke Erdman finished first and second in the boys 100 and 200 dashes at the Class 1A state meet. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

In the boys meet, Walton-Verona won the school’s first state title in track by a slim 64-56 margin over Louisville Collegiate.

Beechwood outscored two-time defending champion Brossart, 100-68, to take the girls state title for the second time in five years.

Walton-Verona’s top performer was junior Jackson Smith, the starting quarterback on the Bearcats football team. He won the 100 and 200 dashes and was on the 4×200 relay team that finished first.

The team’s other individual state champion was senior Grady Shay in the 110 hurdles. He was also on the winning 4×200 relay team with Smith, freshman Hunter League and eighth-grader Tyler Smith.

That same foursome also placed second in the 4×100 relay for the Bearcats, who scored all of their points in eight track events.

Beechwood freshman Lily Parke, right, battles for the lead in the girls 1600 run. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

Brossart opened the boys meet with a victory in the 4×800 relay. Northern Kentucky’s other gold medal winner was St. Henry senior Al Bessler in the triple jump.

In the girls state meet, Beechwood racked up 36 points in relay events by winning the 4×200 and 4×400 and placing second in the 4×100 and 4×800.

Two of Beechwood’s relay runners — juniors Maddy Brauch and Maryah Counts — also placed second and third in the 400 dash.

The other second-place finishers for the Tigers were freshmen distance runners Lily Parks in the 1600 and Nora Wilke in the 3200.

Brossart senior Chloe Hein won gold medals in the 4×100 relay and long jump, came in second in the 200 dash and placed fifth in the 100 dash to cap her career.

Northern Kentucky teams have won the last five Class 1A girls state meets and 25 of 28 dating back to 1995. During that span, St. Henry claimed 11 state titles, followed by Brossart (eight), Newport Central Catholic (three), Beechwood (two) and Dayton (one).

Complete results from the Class 1A state meet are posted on the khsaa.org website.

4×200 relay —
Beechwood (Maddy Brauch, Maryah Counts, Lana Holt, Katie Kocan) 1:45.81.
4×100 relay — Brossart (Zooey Woosley, Haylee Hickman, Lauren Goderson, Chloe Hein) 50.36.
4×400 relay — Beechwood (Maddy Brauch, Maryah Counts, Lily Parke, Katie Hazard) 4:11.109.
Long jump — Chloe Hein (Brossart) 17-08.75

4×800 relay — Brossart (Ryan Clines, Brennen Callahan, Nick Heck, Nathan Ruth) 8:18.57.
110 hurdles — Grady Shay (Walton-Verona) 15.32.
100 dash — Jackson Smith (Walton-Verona) 11.07.
4×200 relay — Walton-Verona (Hunter League, Tyson Smith, Grady Shay, Jackson Smith) 1:31.49.
200 dash — Jackson Smith (Walton-Verona) 22.18.
Triple jump — Al Bessler (St. Henry) 43-0.

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