Friday, May 28, 1999

Highlands morphs into another track contender

Enquirer contributor

        Highlands wasn't supposed to be a factor in Class AA boys track this year. Do anything without the three field athletes who accounted for nearly half the points in last year's state meet? Impossible, some said.

        The Bluebirds are proving otherwise.

        Highlands is second behind only AAA power Covington Catholic in The Enquirer's coaches poll. Going into Saturday's AA regional meet at Lloyd, the Bluebirds are again thinking state gold.

        “Preseason, we were ranked sixth (in Northern Kentucky),” senior Josh Hasson said. “We knew we lost a lot of guys, we knew we had a lot of rebuilding to do. We saw it as a mission.”

        The Bluebirds finished second in the state to Union County a year ago, 851/2 points to 84, and would have won if their 1,600-meter relay team had finished second instead of third. But three state champions — Scott Kuhnhein (discus and shot put), Randy Worthington (high jump) and Jon Compton (pole vault) — graduated along with their combined 40 points.

        A pair of seniors, Hasson and Jeff Mirrielees, have kept Highlands in the running in '99. Mirrielees' 1:58.2 in the 800 and 4:30.0 in the 1,600 are the top times in Northern Kentucky this year, as is Hasson's 51.3 in the 400.

        Mirrielees may be the most confident Bluebird.

        “I think we're going to have three-fourths of our team (at state),” he said.

Class A
        St. Henry coach Matt Curless loves a close race, and he'll likely have it Saturday at Lloyd. It could be a repeat of 1998, when St. Henry edged Newport Central Catholic by a point and Bellevue by just five.

        “It's a battle with a lot of people,” Bellevue coach Marty Mayer said. “You can't turn your back. (NewCath), Dayton, St. Henry are all strong.”

        Brossart coach Brad Dunlevy said NewCath and Bellevue are the favorites.

        “They've dominated all the (small-school) meets, especially against each other,” Dunlevy said. “It seems to be the usual format.”

        St. Henry has the advantage in field events. Seniors Keith Schuler and Jeff Topmiller own the top two distances in the long jump, and Schuler is best in triple jump and second to Scott's Anthony Matracia in high jump.

        Dayton's strength is its sprinters and hurdlers. Senior Brandon Hall is best in Northern Kentucky in 110 and 300 hurdles, and senior Charlie Young is third in the 200.

        Bellevue senior Matt Mickelson has the fastest times in the 1,600 (4:45.8) and 3,200 (10:35.8) in Class A. NewCath senior Kyle Kellinghaus and St. Henry sophomore Ryan McLane are his chief competitors in the 1,600, and Kellinghaus and Brossart junior Marc Teismann could challenge in the 3,200.

        Brossart junior Jarrod Schmidt has the fastest (2:01.1) 800 time among small school runners.

Class AAA
        Among local teams, CovCath is the favorite to claim the team title Saturday at Scott County, with Ryle, Campbell County and Scott contending for the next three spots.

        “We just want to get as many we can (downstate),” CovCath coach Jim Johnson said. “We have a few that are doing better than the qualifying standard.”

        CovCath senior sprinter Chris Resing has turned in a 10.9 and 22.3 in the 100 and 200 respectively, and the Colonels 400 (43.5) and 3,200 (8:08.3) relay teams are faster than state standards.


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