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Thursday, April 23, 2020

2019-2020 Highlands Athletics Year in Review

Highlands Co-Ed Swimming and Diving, Large Pom Dance Teams Win State Titles

Twitter Photo. The Highlands Bluebirds Combined Swimming and Diving Teams won their first state championship since 1995 in February.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association cancelled spring sports for the 2019-2020 academic year. But the Highlands Bluebirds teams earned two state championships, some individual state titles and two state runner-up finishes in the fall and winter.

The Highlands Swimming and Diving teams captured the first combined state title since 1995 with 205 points edging Louisville Eastern by three points. The Highlands boys finished state runner-up with 193 points and the girls finished 28th with 12.

"Of course there are a lot of facors that play into Combined because you have boys and girls swimming together," said Amanda Johnson, Highlands Head Coach. "You just don't know what the other teams out there have across the state. Teams are going to change year to year."

Highlands juniors Mac Russell and Jack Banks claimed individual state championships scoring 20 points each. Banks won the 100 Breaststroke title in 55.65 seconds and Russell won the 50 Free in 20.63 seconds.

The Co-Ed teams and boys won the Region 7 crowns again. The Co-Ed team won a ninth straight region title with 808.5 points and the boys won it for the third straight year with 542.5 points. The girls finished fourth with 266 points.

The Highlands Dance Team recorded a state championship in the Large Pom Division with 81.73 points. The Hip Hop Small team also qualified for state finishing 12th with 75.68 points.

The Highlands girls soccer team made it back to the state championship game, but fell 1-0 to Greenwood despite out-shooting the Lady Gators, 13-6 including 5-2 on goal.

Highlands finished 20-4-5 on the season winning a second straight 9th Region championship over Notre Dame and winning a fourth straight 36th District crown. Highlands beat Louisville Sacred Heart, 1-0 in the state semifinals when sophomore Chloe Bramble took a pass from Faith Broering and scored from about 25 yards out with two minutes, 37 seconds left in the first overtime. Bramble had a team-high 16 goals on the season.

Highlands won its first two state tournament games on penalty kicks. The Bluebirds took down West Jessamine in the first round and Lexington Catholic in the state quarterfinals at Tower Park.

Both Highlands cross country teams again qualified for state. The Highlands girls finished third in Class AA with 125 points and the boys finished fourth win 175 points.

The Highlands boys soccer team won a second straight 9th Region championship, 3-2 over Covington Catholic winning 2-1 on penalty kicks. The Bluebirds finished 17-6-4 winning a fourth straight 36th District title. They defeated Danville, 6-3 in the first round of the state tournament before losing 2-1 including a 4-3 verdict on penalty kicks to eventual state champion Lexington Henry Clay in the state quarterfinals at Tower Park.

The Highlands boys basketball team put together a solid 28-4 season winning the first 36th District championship since 2008 and advancing to the 9th Region championship for the first time since 2001. The Bluebirds battled Covington Catholic in the region title game before losing 59-54. Junior Sam Vinson averaged 24.7 points per game to lead the Bluebirds.

The 28 victories had not happened for the Bluebirds since the 1997-98 region championship season. That team finished 31-4 losing 72-67 to Scott County in the state quarterfinals.

The Highlands Co-Ed Competitive Cheer team qualified for state. The Bluebirds took fourth with 87.10 points.

The Highlands Archery teams completed another season of competition. The teams were not able to compete in the Region 6 Tournament at Scott High because of the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic.

In bowling, seniors Gunner Gabbard and Jordan Cole qualified for state for the Highlands boys. Gabbard finished second in the Region 5 individual tournament and Cole finished third. Cole took 10th at state bowling a 650.

The Highlands volleyball team put together a solid 29-8 season. The Bluebirds won a third straight 36th District championship before escaping Dixie Heights, 3-2 (25-19, 25-22, 16-25, 21-25, 15-13) in the region quarterfinals for just their second region tournament win since 2010 before losing to Notre Dame in the region semifinals. The win total matched the last Highlands team to advance to state in 2004.

The Highlands girls basketball team finished 21-11 winning 21 or more games for the eighth straight season and winning a sixth straight 36th District championship. Highland lost 48-44 to Conner in double overtime of the first round of the 9th Region Tournament.

Both the Highlands boys and girls golf teams placed third in the Region 8 Tournaments. Juniors Justin Gabbard and Luke Muller qualified for state for the boys and junior Ellie Rowland and sophomore KJ Toole qualified for state for the girls.

Muller and Gabbard made it to the second day of the boys state tournament. Gabbard tied for 22nd shooting a 153 and Muller shot a 161 to tie for 55th.

The Highlands football team finished 6-5 overall losing 38-28 at Conner in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. This marked the second first-round exit for the Bluebirds in four years.

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