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Friday, June 11, 2021

Highlands Boys Finish Runner-up at Class 2A State Track, Field Meet

Highlands Girls Take Sixth

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Isaac Surrey approaches the bar in the high jump at the Class 2A State Track and Field meet at the University of Kentucky on Friday. Surrey scored in two events.

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore Alyssa Harris gets in position before the start of the two-mile relay. Harris helped the Bluebirds to a state runner-up finish in that event.

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It came down to the final race.

The Highlands Bluebirds boys track and field team hoped to win the mile relay and capture its first state championship since 2014. They wound up finishing second in the race and second overall with 75 points -- just 3.5 points behind Mercer County's 78.5. The race did have a 30-minute rain delay.


"Two years ago in the last time at the state track meet, we scored five points,"
said Ryan Leopold, Highlands Boys Track and Field Head Coach. "So to score 75 points and get second place is pretty amazing. I'm really happy with the guys and the way they fought. It wasn't (an) ideal (situation) -- super hot. They found a way to grind and keep competing throughout the day. They put us in this position. They're kind of upset we're not state champs, but I think second place is perfect for what we are."

The Highlands girls wound up in sixth with 34 points after Head Coach Brian Alessandro said the team came into the meet ranked much lower in the state. The Christian Academy of Louisville won the girls 2A race with 80 points.

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"I kind of thought we could get top 10 with a realistic goal of top six,"
Alessandro said. "We did what we needed to do. Going into that race, we could have gotten third place if we'd have won or gotten second place. But I'm proud of them. They competed well."

The Highlands mile relay team finished second in a school record three minutes, 25.49 seconds, which was just under a second behind North Oldham's 3:24.57. Junior Thomas Gray-Torsell, junior Jake Welch, senior Will Griffith and sophomore Aiden Nevels kept Highlands right there until the very end.

"What I can say is this team is everything," Griffith said. "We worked all year for this moment. I wouldn't change a thing. We left it all out there. There was nothing more we could have done I feel like. I'm incredibly proud of this team and what we accomplished this year."

Welch took home the state championship in the 400 dash in 49.67 seconds. Welch also took fifth in the 200 in 22.67 seconds and seventh in the 100 in 11.19 seconds scoring 16 points individually.

"You just have to take the first curve as hard as you can, sprint, don't lose any speed the entire time just keep going faster," Welch said of winning the 400. "It's super special. It's something that you dream of freshman year coming into track. You just have to keep working. It's awesome."
 
Nevels gave the Bluebirds eight huge points in the 100 meter hurdles. He ran in the second heat in 15:41 seconds. He missed the state crown by .20 seconds behind the 15.21 of Calloway County's Trystan Wright.

"I was real nervous because it is only my second time running hurdles on varsity," Nevels said. "I only got three days practicing it. I had to work on my form a lot. I try to do my thing and not get in my own way."

The Highlands two-mile team finished also finished runner-up in 8:15.83. Team members are senior Jack Banks, Griffith, Gray-Torsell and sophomore Alex Lacourt.

"It's exciting being here for the first time. I didn't want to mess it up for the team," Lacourt said. "All it comes down to is focusing on one thing at a time. You do what you have to do to get through it."

Highlands senior Harrison Pawsat took runner-up honors in the discus firing a best of 152 feet even. He also finished third in the shot put firing a best throw of 51-2.5 in six throws.

"I didn't start hot really in either (event)," Pawsat said. "I had to relax and get some throws down in order to score some points. You have to come in with the right mentality. I started off discus with the power throw, which set me up well."

Highlands junior Isaac Surrey also scored in several events. He took second in the long jump at 21 feet, 3.5 inches. Surrey also took seventh in the triple jump at 41-4.

"Those points put us in position to win the meet," Surrey said. "Overall, I did okay. I was proud of myself. I have another year left so I hope to come back and do it again next year."

Gray-Torsell and Griffith scored points in the 800 run for the Bluebirds. Gray-Torsell took third in 1:59.21 and Griffith placed eighth in 2:01.28.

"I tried to hang on to the top three runners and see what I could do," Gray-Torsell said. "There at the end, I knew my race and my pace so I decided to try to catch who I could at the end. Whatever points we can get out of a race is good."

Highlands freshman Rilen Pinkston scored four points in the pole vault. He cleared 11 feet, six inches good for fifth place.

The Highlands two-mile relay team took a state runner-up finish in 10 minutes, 8.32 seconds by less than a second. The first three legs of sophomore Alyssa Harris, eighth grader Adrienne Harris and senior Maggie Schroeder kept Highlands in line for the runner-up finish.

"It's just really important to try your best for your teammates and have fun with it," Adrienne Harris said. "You have to let it go and push your body to its very limit. It's nice to be able to run with (sister Alyssa), especially since she's an amazing runner. It's nice to have runners I can look up to a lot."

The final leg in seventh grader Franny Smith had to fend off a challenge from the likes of Boyd County and the Christian Academy of Louisville. Region 4 rival Bourbon County won it in 9:39.19 and CAL finished third in 10:09.19.

Highlands senior Maggie Schroeder concluded her stellar career finishing second in the two-mile in 11:33.82. Schroeder captured Class 2A individual cross country state championships as a sophomore and senior. She's taking her talents to Northern Kentucky University. CAL junior Addi Dewey won it in 11:26.93.

"I knew my competition pretty well," Schroeder said. "I've been running track for technically five seasons. I know names and faces. I knew that Addi was really good competition. I knew being out five weeks it was going to be a little bit iffy. My goal was to get a strong second. If I could, get first. I hung on as long as I could. She hit certain poles. But then I thought to myself, I am holding on to second. I am not letting anyone else pass me. That's what I did."

Highlands sophomore Rylee Swope finished fifth in the discus throwing 95 feet, nine inches. Swope also finished fifth in the shot put firing a best 33 feet, 8 inches.

"The experience alone will help me prepare for what to expect next year and my senior year," Swope said. "My first time coming here was nerve-racking. I had to sit there, breath and just get my head into it mentally." 


The mile relay team took fifth in 4:12.16. Members are freshman Laney Smith, senior Jordan Steumpel and sophomores Alyssa Harris and Haley Zell. Laney Smith also took sixth in the 400 in 1:00.55.

The Highlands 800 relay team scored one point finishing eighth in 1:51.05. Runners were juniors Emmie Brewer, Sarah Thurnauer, Zell and Laney Smith.

Highlands senior Ellie Fecher took seventh in the high jump in 4-10. That was good for two points.

Highlands has won four state championships in track and field on the girls side and three on the boys side. The Highlands girls won four straight between 2008 to 2011.

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