Mercy volleyball tops list after taking national championship
The 2014-15 school year featured several memorable achievements by Louisville-area high school teams and athletes.
No school in the state captured more team championships than St. Xavier and Sacred Heart, which won three apiece. St. X won titles in golf, swimming and diving and tennis. Sacred Heart won in cross country, golf and swimming and diving.
Here are the top 10 achievements among Louisville-area schools during the 2014-15 season, as compiled by Courier-Journal preps reporter Jason Frakes:
10. Ballard’s boys completed a rare triple, winning regional titles in football, basketball and baseball. The football team finished 10-4 after falling to Dixie Heights in the Class 6-A semifinals. The basketball team went 32-3 but suffered a surprising 85-70 loss to Boyle County in the quarterfinals of the Sweet 16. The baseball team went 23-16-1 and won its first Seventh Region title since 2007 before falling to eventual state champion West Jessamine in the first round of the state tournament.
9. North Oldham junior Grace Oglesby continued to establish herself as one of the top swimmers in Kentucky history, posting record times while winning the state titles in the 50-yard freestyle (22.92 seconds) and 100 butterfly (51.75 seconds). Her butterfly time was just off the national high school record of 51.70 seconds set by Beata Nelson of Wisconsin last November. Oglesby committed to the University of Louisville in May.
8. Led by senior forward Stephanie Rowland, South Oldham regained its status as the top girls soccer program in Kentucky by defeating Owensboro Catholic 4-1 in the state final. The Lady Dragons had won six state titles in seven years from 1995-2001 but hadn’t returned to the state semifinals since 2001. The Ohio University-bound Rowland scored 43 goals during the season and a school-record 119 for her career. After the season coach Cy Tucker stepped down as the state’s all-time winningest coach, compiling a 378-119-25 record and winning seven state titles.
7. Pleasure Ridge Park’s Dale Mabrey passed Central’s William Kean as the all-time winningest boys basketball coach in Louisville when his Panthers beat Valley 87-65 in a 21st District Tournament semifinal. In 34 seasons at PRP, Mabrey has a career record of 858-242 and ranks second in state history in career victories, trailing only Scott County’s Billy Hicks (881-258).
6. Featuring a stingy defense, DeSales won its second straight Class 2-A state football title by defeating Newport Central Catholic 26-0 in the final. The Colts finished the season with five shutouts and allowed just 7.2 points per game, including a total of 13 in five playoff games. Defensive end Bryant Pirtle was the leader, posting 82 tackles (including 21 ½ sacks) and five fumble recoveries and earning first-team All-State honors from The Courier-Journal.
5. Jorge Vega (113 pounds) and Kohl Dodd (195 pounds) won individual titles to lead Fern Creek to the team crown at the State Wrestling Championships. It was the first state title for the Tigers since 1984. Coach Mark Hitchings, who won an individual state title at Fern Creek in 1981, was named the state’s Coach of the Year.
4. The Male girls programs enjoyed a stellar school year, finishing second in the state softball tournament, reaching the semifinals of the Sweet 16 basketball tournament and tying for third in the Class 3-A track and field meet. It was an unprecedented season for the basketball squad, which reached the state tournament for the first time since 1996. About 900 students traveled to Bowling Green to watch Male whip Mercy 78-59 in the first round of the Sweet 16 as junior I’Liyah Green posted 25 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks.
3. The Iroquois football team didn’t win a state championship, but its turnaround during the 2014 season was one of the most memorable the city has seen. The Raiders finished 11-2 after falling to John Hardin 7-6 in a Class 5-A regional final. Their two playoff victories matched the total the program had achieved since starting in 1966, and the winning record was the program’s first since 1994. Coach Preston King earned statewide Coach of the Year honors from The Courier-Journal.
2. After a 5-5 regular season against a tough schedule, the Trinity football team got hot during the playoffs and whipped Dixie Heights 47-14 in the Class 6-A championship game. It was the 23rd state title for the Shamrocks, tying Highlands for the most in state history. Coach Bob Beatty won his 11th title in 15 seasons, matching retired Highlands coach Dale Mueller for the most in state history. The championship game was a bit anticlimactic after Trinity avenged a pair of regular-season losses in the playoffs, knocking off Male 38-31 in overtime and St. Xavier 9-3.
1. Louisville long has been considered one of the nation’s hotbeds for high school volleyball, and Mercy enhanced that reputation this season. The Jaguars beat Notre Dame in a five-set thriller to capture the state championship and finish with a 40-1 record. PrepVolleyball.com named the Jaguars national champions, and Morehead State signee Merideth Jewell earned Kentucky Miss Volleyball honors. Coach Todd Garvey announced his resignation after the season to pursue a job in the college ranks.
Honorable mention: Central football team reaches Class 3-A state final; Atherton baseball player Neil DeNicola ties state record with home runs in five straight games; Collins’ Gabriella Karas wins Class 2-A cross country meet for fourth straight year; Sacred Heart swimming and diving team sets three state records and wins third straight state title; St. Xavier tennis team wins seventh straight state title and Brandon Lancaster wins second straight individual state crown.