|Members of the Highlands boys and girls swim teams had not yet been born the last time the school won a combined swimming and diving championship. Twenty-five years later, the team has triumphed.|
by Robin Gee
Highlands High School boys and girls swimming teams took home their first state trophy since 1995 for overall combined swimming and diving, earning a total score of 205 point. They were honored for their win at the March Fort Thomas Schools board meeting.
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Athletic Director Kevin Nieporte admits he and Highlands parents screamed loud and proud as they watched the team rack up points throughout the championship event held at the University of Kentucky.
"Any state championship is special, obviously, but this one was one of the most exciting events that I’ve attended in my time as a student teacher or athletic director at Highlands," he said.
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The team dominated in the competition, especially in the last few events where they were able to earn enough points to overtake rival Louisville Eastern for the combined title.
"We had a couple of individuals who stood out. Mac Russell was the first Northern Kentucky male since 1973 to win a state title in the 50 free [50-yard freestyle]. He is only a junior. Mac’s time is putting him into consideration to be an All-American. Mac was also part of the final relay that clinched the title as we took second place and those were the points needed," Nieporte said.
"Our next outstanding individual performance was an automatic All-American Jack Banks in the 100-yard breaststroke," he said. The excitment built when Banks, who was third place just before his final length of the pool, surpassed the other two competitors to earn himself an individual state title and put the team back in the conversation for the combined title. "It was an amazing performance."
Nieporte thanked the team, the parents and fans and Head Coach Amanda Johnson for her teams' stellar effort and triumph.