Prep Sports Report: Cooper teammates ranked among state’s top high school football players

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

When high school football teams begin preseason workouts in three weeks, Cooper will have two of the state’s top players returning from last year’s Class 5A state runner-up team.

According to the current state rankings, senior defensive end Austin Alexander is ranked No. 2 among Kentucky players in the 2025 graduating class and junior quarterback Cam O’Hara is ranked No. 1 overall in the class of 2026.

Cooper quarterback Cam O’Hara (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Alexander made a verbal commitment with the University of North Carolina in April. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound four-star college prospect was widely recruited after putting up some impressive numbers as a two-way starter for Cooper last season.

As a defensive end and outside linebacker, he made 81 tackles (57 solo) and 19 quarterback sacks, which ranked second in statewide statistics. He also played tight end for the Jaguars, catching 67 passes for 1,138 yards and 19 touchdowns.

O’Hara was among the state’s leading quarterbacks as a sophomore last season when he completed 239 of 367 passes for 3,561 yards and 49 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. In Cooper’s five playoff games, he threw for 830 yards and 12 TDs.

The 6-foot, 190-pound junior is currently listed as a three-star college prospect, but that could change after a busy off-season when he attended quarterback camps at several colleges. O’Hara has already received offers from Kentucky, Miami of Ohio, Akron, Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee State and Austin Peay.

Distance runner places fourth in unique event at national meet

Cooper junior Paul Van Laningham placed fourth in three distances during one race at the Nike Outdoor Nationals track meet at the University of Oregon.

Paul Van Laningham

During high school meets, Van Laningham met the national meet’s qualifying standards for the boys 3,000 meters, 3,200 meters and 2 mile distances in the Emerging Elite division. Those races were combined into one with computerized times recorded at each of the three distances.

There were 61 runners from multiple states in the race. Van Laningham’s fourth-place times were 8:39.05 (3,000 meters), 9:11.09 (3,200 meters) and 9:14.34 (2 mile). The three runners who placed ahead of him were all seniors.

Van Laningham also qualified to compete in the 1,500-meter, 1,600-meter and 1-mile races that went off at the same time. He placed 14th in the 1,500, 18th in the 1,600 and 20th in the 1 mile.

The other Northern Kentucky runners who competed in two or more events at the Nike Outdoor Nationals were Olivia and Grant Holbrook of Campbell County and Evan Smith and Allison Kopser of Ryle. The best finish among them was 20th in the girls 2,000-meter steeplechase by Kopser.

Notre Dame graduate headed to Thailand with USA Volleyball team

Notre Dame graduate Morgan Hentz is a member of the USA Volleyball women’s national team that will play Italy in the quarterfinals of the Volleyball Nations League tournament on Friday in Bangkok, Thailand.

Morgan Hentz

Hentz is a newcomer on the national team that won three of four preliminary round matches played June 10-16 in Japan to make it to the VNL quarterfinals. As a libero, she is playing behind veteran Justin Wong-Orantes, who helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

When the national team returns from Thailand, Hentz is one of five candidates for an alternate position on the U.S. team that will compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

In the spring, Hentz was named Libero of the Year in the Pro Volleyball Federation’s inaugural season. As a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Vibe team, she averaged a league-leading 4.2 digs per set.

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