December 19th, 2017

Top 10 stories of 2017: Honorable Mention

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Conor Revell

Staff Writer

Top 10 stories of 2017: Honorable Mention
St. X cross country team / photo by Conor Revell

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network has chosen its top 10 stories of 2017 and is posting them in a series starting Dec. 19 with an honorable mention list. LCSN will have a story each day with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We will run our top story of the year Dec. 31st.

Honorable Mention

St. Xavier cross country three-peats

The Tigers finished with 66 points, just narrowing out Trinity who finished with 84 points. South Warren placed third with 202 points.

“I told our kids that we wanted to run our own race,” St. X head coach Chuck Medley said. “If you run faster than you’re capable of then things are going to backwards. I told our kids to run our own race and that I think we will be fine most of the time. That’s what we did.”

Patrick Schaefer led St. X with a second place finish clocking a 15:46.56, just over two seconds behind Male’s Dylan Allen who won the individual state title.

Zachary Larkin was the second Tiger to cross the finish line and placed 10th with a 16:14.17 time.

“We knew Trinity was going to gun for us,” Larkin said. “It’s a tough course with hills. We run hills in practice all the time and it always pays off. It’s not easy running the hills in practice but at the end of the year we see why coach makes us run those hills.”

Thomas Knepshield (15th), Grady Shiflet (17th), Clint Sherman (26th), and Eric Portaro (31st) also ran for St. X.

Medley was in tears after the meet because star runner Cooper Marchal went down with 800 meters to go and has been battling heat issues all season.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Medley said. “He is such a leader on this team. He’s the guy that we wanted to set the pace for us. He’ll give it his all but he never goes out too fast. He did his job today, I know he didn’t finish, but he set the pace. He has had a little heat problem and came down the hill and he just wasn’t looking good.”

St. X swimming wins 29th straight state title

The Tigers earned 453.5 points in their title-winning effort and more than doubled runners-up Covington Catholic’s 204.5 points in the process.

“We talk to our boys about taking ownership and accountability and they do,” St. X head coach Todd Larkin said. “It’s a collective responsibility towards one another to finish the mission (of winning a state title) and having each other’s backs. It allows us to embrace that target knowing that we have that many students invest in what we do. It’s very, very gratifying to experience as a coach.”

St. X began the day making a big statement in the 200 Medley Relay with the foursome of Martin Nitzken, Keefer Barnum, Conner Kang, Michael Eastman turning in a 1:32.31 time breaking the record by just .03 that was set by last year’s St. X relay team.

That was followed by junior Aldon Johnston’s record-breaking time of 1:36.89 in the 200 Free.

Later, senior Keefer Barnum, a Virginia signee, broke his own state record in the 100 Breaststroke in 54.36.

“It’s great to accomplish this and I’m just so happy we’ve done so well,” Barnum said. “A big thank you to our coaches and all of my teammates because I wouldn’t be here without them. I’m amazed at what this program and the student-athletes involved are able to achieve every year.

“You can’t train by yourself and the younger guys will continue to do a great job because they’re such great racers. It’s so important to have older swimmers to look up to, train with and learn from. They inspire you to set goals that you never imagined you could achieve.”

In the final event of the day, the Tigers’ 400 Free Relay of Johnston, Will Cole, Cole Brown and Eastman shaved 2.04 seconds off the state record clocking a 3.03.68.

Sacred Heart swimming wins fifth straight state title

Tonner DeBeer, Forde, Claire Donan and Allison Bauer claimed the 200-yard medley relay in 1:45.28.

“We had a couple of different options with the relays and decided to stack them with our strongest swimmers,” Forde said. “We could be certain to win those and when we did I knew it would be my job to keep the ball rolling after that. Getting off to that start helped the team get excited. When they swim well and come back to the team area with all of that enthusiasm it just seems to be contagious after that.”

Forde made good on her promise to carry on the strong start and followed that up by defending her title in the 200-yard freestyle by setting a state record in 1:45.03. The event is something she doesn’t swim often, but the senior feels that plays to her advantage.

DeBeer, a junior, then out-swam Albiero in the 100-yard butterfly finishing in 53.02 seconds

“There were a lot of nerves coming into today, but we all met at one of the girl’s houses today to channel all our energy into getting ready,” DeBeer said. “We may not all be on the same club team but at Sacred Heart we are a special group and always cheering each other on.”

Forde, was back in the pool for the 500-yard freestyle and bested her state record time winning easily in 4:39.87.

With her Valkyrie teammates cheering right next to her SHA freshman Donan battled for a second place finish in the 100 Breaststroke from lane eight in 1:03.04, behind Collegiate’s Kaylee Wheeler (1:02.00) and just ahead of CAL’s Rachel Howard (1:03.32).

DeBeer continued her strong day winning the 100-yard backstroke in 53.94, while teammates Grace Huber and McDermott finished fifth and eighth respectively.

Sacred Heart wins fifth straight Seventh Region title

The Valkyries claimed their fifth straight Seventh Region title by beating Manual 3-1 in the championship game.

Sacred Heart then went onto win their semi-state game with Bethlehem and beat Simon Kenton in PKs before losing to West Jessamine in PKs in the state semifinals.

“Before PKs, I told my girls that I love them,” Sacred Heart head coach Jaclyn Puntillo said. “Nobody is prouder to be their coach than I am. I don’t think their is a prouder coach of any team anywhere. That’s a very special group of girls and I know it didn’t end the way we wanted it to.

“But that doesn’t take away from the last five years. What those seniors did for this program, you look at them, it doesn’t matter if they played 90 or no minutes, they’re all just as torn up as anyone because this is a family and a team. Being their coach was the greatest honor.”

St. Xavier wrestling finishes second at state

Tigers came up short falling to Union County 227.5-191 and lost all four of their title matches at the Kentucky Horse Park. Johnson Central placed third with 171 points.    

“We put in a lot of hard work during the offseason,” Kraeszig said. “I think our young boys learned a lot and are a big reason why we’re here today. We’re already ready to start working towards winning a state title next year.”

Austin Cook (126 pounds), Konner Kraeszig (138 pounds), Clayton Hanson (145 pounds), and Cameron Ward (160 pounds) represented St. X in the finals before losing.

“We had a lot more confidence going into the tournament,” Hanson said. “We had a lot bigger wins during the regular season this year. Last year there were a lot of injured guys including myself. We were down as a team year ago. This year we were more cohesive.”

Cook (38-6) was defeated by Walton Verona’s Ryan Moore (44-3) 7-0 in the 126-pound final. The senior made a huge jump after placing seventh at the state tournament a year ago.

Konner Kraeszig (33-4) lost to Union County’s unbeaten Bryce Sheffer (55-0) in the 113-pound weight class final.

“I was going up against a lot stronger guys this year,” Konner Kraeszig said. “That was the biggest thing.”

Woodford County’s Joey Robert (47-3) defeated Hanson (19-3) 12-3 in the 145-pound final. 

“This was my first time back at the state tournament since freshman year,” Hanson said. “It didn’t end up how I liked it but that’s life for you.

John Hardin’s Geordan Blanton (42-1) nudged past Ward (36-8) 7-4 in the 160-pound title match. The junior was unable to use some of the moves he wanted to use and fell just short.


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