Local high school teams won 11 state championship trophies during 2023-24 academic year

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Covington Catholic made history by winning championship trophies in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s first-ever indoor state track meet and team tennis tournament during the final months of the 2023-24 high school academic year.

The Colonels also topped the team standings at the outdoor state track meet and state cross country meet for a total of four state titles that was best among local schools. Beechwood was next in line with three state championships in girls cross country, girls track and boys track.

The other local high school team that celebrated a KHSAA state title was Brossart in boys cross country. The list of All “A” Classic state champions included St. Henry in volleyball, Newport in boys basketball and Holy Cross in girls basketball.

Here’s a look at the teams and athletes who made headlines during the recently completed school year.


Nathan Ruth became the first Brossart cross country runner to win the boys Class 1A state country meet and led the Mustangs to their first team title since 2014. Beechwood’s girls repeated as Class 1A girls state champions with sophomores Lily Parke and Nora Wilke placing second and third in that race.

Brossart senior Nathan Ruth won the Class 1A boys state cross country meet

CovCath won the Class 2A boys cross country state title behind junior Will Sheets and sophomore Joe Mayer, who came in third and fourth. Cooper was state runner-up in Class 3A boys. The fourth-place finisher in that race was Cooper sophomore Paul Van Laningham.

Northern Kentucky had two football teams reach the state finals, but neither of them was able to finish the season with a win. Boyle County handed CovCath its only loss, 41-0, in the Class 4A title game. Cooper’s first trip to the Class 5A state final ended with a 28-14 loss to Bowling Green.

Louisville Assumption defeated Notre Dame, 3-1, in the state volleyball tournament championship match. The Pandas had only one senior in their rotation so they’ll likely make another run at the state title.

In soccer, the Notre Dame girls and Ryle boys lost to Louisville teams in the state semifinals. St. Xavier eliminated Ryle, 2-1, in a shootout and Sacred Heart knocked off Notre Dame, 3-1.

Cooper placed third in the girls state golf tournament for the second consecutive year. The team leader was junior Reagan Ramage, who tied for fourth place to earn first-team all-state honors once again.


In January, two 9th Region basketball teams won close games in the All “A” Classic boys and girls state championship finals. Holy Cross repeated as girls champion with a 56-55 win over Pikeville. Later that day, Newport’s boys won an overtime game against Evangel Christian, 69-62.

Holy Cross senior Julia Hunt was named most valuable player in All “A” Classic girls state basketball tournament.

The most valuable player awards went to seniors Julia Hunt of Holy Cross and Deshaun Jackson of Newport. In the semifinals, Newport edged Lyon County, 50-48. Lyon County went on to win the post-season state tournament.

Landon Isler of Ryle and Peytton Moore of Cooper won the boys and girls 1-meter diving events at the state championship meet in February. The only local swimmer that came home with a gold medal was Notre Dame junior Sadie Hartig in the girls 500 freestyle.

Three local wrestlers reached the boys state finals, but none of them was able to come away with a victory. One state finalist was Highlands senior Rilen Pinkston, who ended the season with a 43-1 record.

At the first KHSAA sanctioned state tournament for girls wrestling, weight class titles were won by Sophie Anderson and Emma Moore of Walton-Verona, Gabriella Ocasio of Simon Kenton and Viktoriya Emelianova of Ryle.

Simon Kenton senior Gabriella Ocasio

Newport repeated as 9th Region boys basketball champion and Campbell County won the 10th Region boys title game on a last-second shot by junior Garyn Jackson.

When the two Northern Kentucky teams met in the opening round of the “Sweet 16” state tournament, Newport floor leader Taylen Kinney was hampered by a strained hamstring and Campbell County pulled off a 43-40 upset. But the Camels lost in the state quarterfinals the following day.

Cooper won the 9th Region girls basketball title for the third straight year and made it to the final four of the state tournament before losing to top-ranked Louisville Sacred Heart, 58-50.


In April, Scott sophomore Lexus Goff became the first Northern Kentucky student-athlete to win an individual state title in archery. She shot the high score of 295 and won by just one point. Ryle placed second in the boys archery team standings.

CovCath state doubles champions Kalei Christensen, left, and Alex Yeager.

After CovCath tennis players Kalei Christensen and Alex Yeager won the state championship in boys doubles for the second consecutive year, they were part of the lineup coach Al Hertsenberg used to win four matches in the inaugural boys state team tournament and take that title.

At the Class 1A outdoor state track meet, Beechwood swept the boys and girls team titles for the first time. In those two meets, local athletes won gold medals in seven girls and six boys events.

One of the Class 1A individual event winners was Brossart senior Nathan Ruth in the boys 1600 run. He added that gold medal to the one he got as state cross country champion in October.

CovCath’s track team took the Class 2A title even though the Colonels won just two relay events. In Class 3A, Ryle senior Viktoriya Emelianova repeated as girls shot put champion while still recovering from a broken ankle. She was also a state champion in girls wrestling.

Ryle senior Viktoriya Emelianova

Ryle’s baseball team caught fire late in the season and won 12 straight games, including a pair of one-run victories in the 9th Region semifinals and title game. The Raiders’ first appearance in the state tournament since 2013 ended with a loss in the quarterfinals. Simon Kenton lost its state tournament opener after winning the 8th Region championship.

Highlands won the 9th Region softball championship for the third straight year, but the Bluebirds lost a close game against Louisville Assumption, 3-2, in the state tournament’s opening round.

Louisville teams also handed season-ending losses to Northern Kentucky teams in volleyball, girls soccer, boys soccer and girls basketball during the 2023-24 school year.

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