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The end of the 2023-24 sports season brought the biggest moment for Highland County athletics.

Friday, May 31st will forever go down in Whiteoak High School history as the day the school won its first state championship.

That champion was junior Landen Eyre, who won Whiteoak’s first state title in any sport when he broke away on the final lap of the 3200-meter run to take the top spot on the podium in the Division III event at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.

While this was the biggest moment of the entire 2023-24 high school sports season in Highland County, there were many other moments that stood out.

When we think back to the fall of 2023, the first name that comes up is also Eyre, as he was the runner-up in Division III cross country. WHS senior Weston Blair also competed in the state championship cross country, and in Division II, Hillsboro junior Corbin Winkle competed in the state championships.

During the cross country season, Fairfield was also crowned champion of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference.

In the fall, the Lynchburg and Clay boys soccer teams also entered a three-way tie for the SHAC championship, with three teams (Fayetteville, North Adams) each having a 6-1 record, giving the Mustangs at least a share of the SHAC championship for 11 consecutive seasons, although their SHAC win-or-lose streak ended at 73 games.

The Lynchburg-Clay girls soccer team won the SHAC girls soccer championship with a record of 5-0-1, giving them 92 consecutive wins or ties without a loss in SHAC games, as well as their second consecutive conference championship.

Additionally, the Lady Mustangs and Fairfield Lady Lions each won a district championship in soccer when they faced each other in the regional semifinals last season, with LCHS advancing to the regional finals with a 2-1 score in one of the best games of the entire season in any sport.

Fairfield Volleyball also won the SHAC Div. II title this past fall season.

In football, both McClain and Hillsboro made the playoffs for the first time ever (not counting the 2020 COVID season). Additionally, the McClain Tigers ended a seven-year losing streak to Hillsboro and reclaimed the Rotary Bowl trophy by defeating HHS 21-13 in a game played at McClain Field.

Last season, the McClain football team also ended a five-year losing streak for the FAC with a win against Chillicothe.

During the winter sports season, Fairfield’s basketball team stood out the most, as it went on a three-season winning streak (not counting tournament games) of 39 games until that historic streak ended with a 59-50 loss to North Adams. Still, the Lions were a huge success, winning Division II in the SHAC and also winning a sectional and district championship. Fairfield’s first district title in a decade was a 56-52 win over Federal Hocking at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.

Other basketball honors: The Lady Mustangs girls basketball team won a sectional championship, as did the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats.

The Lynchburg-Clay girls bowling team won a SHAC championship, with the girls going undefeated in conference play, and both LCHS bowling teams qualified for the OHSAA Division II State Bowling Championships.

Also, let’s not forget that the Fairfield boys bowling team won the SHAC championship.

Speaking of bowling, both the Hillsboro boys and girls bowling teams finished first in the Frontier Athletic Conference standings.

This spring season, the Fairfield Lions baseball team won a Division II SHAC title, a sectional title, its first district title since 2002 and its first regional championship game in 26 years.

This spring, McClain’s girls track and field team also won an FAC championship and finished second in the district. They also sent two relay teams (including Becca Bergstrom, Larah Henson, Kaitlyn Jett, Mylie Lovett and Luca Matesic) and one thrower (Lily Barnes) to the Division II state championships. The Hillsboro Indians boys team also won the FAC championship in track and field.

The Fairfield girls’ track and field team won the SHAC championship and sent two athletes to the state championships (Remi Moon placed eighth in the high jump and Faith Donley ran the 400m). The Whiteoak boys had a total of four runners at the state championships (a relay team including Sawyer Blair and Keegan Eyre), with Weston Blair placing sixth in the 800m and Eyre not only winning the 3200m state championship but also taking third in the 1600m.

In softball, the Hillsboro Lady Indians won their 40th consecutive FAC game and captured their fourth consecutive conference championship with a 10-0 record in 1924. They also secured their second consecutive sectional title.

Lynchburg-Clay won its second consecutive SHAC Division I softball title with a conference record of 8-5 in 2024.

The Fairfield softball teams, Lynchburg-Clay Baseball and Whiteoak Softball also all won their regional championships this spring.

There were even more successes on an individual and coaching level. Below are some of the standout moments and achievements from the entire school year:

– Ethan Hill of McClain qualified for the state wrestling tournament where he placed 1st and 2nd and also earned his 100th career win in wrestling during the winter season.

– Elana Unger of McClain competed in the state swim meet for the third consecutive year, placing second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard butterfly in para swimming.

– In cross country, Landen Eyre of Whiteoak won an individual SHAC title for the third year in a row, as well as district and regional championships; then won the SHAC, district and regional championships in the 3200m before taking the aforementioned state title, as well as district and SHAC titles in the 1600m.

– 1,000-point scorers in basketball included: Macy Etienne, Jade Massey and Addison West of Lynchburg-Clay and Jaylie Parr for Whiteoak.

– Gary Reno of Hillsboro earned his 100th wrestling victory.

– Cam Spruell of Hillsboro recorded her 500th strikeout and was also named FAC Softball Player of the Year.

– Tate Davis of Hillsboro was the FAC Player of the Year and Co-District 14 Best Coach in boys basketball.

– The Southern Hills Athletic Conference boys’ top bowler was Ethan Fetters of Fairfield.

– In baseball and softball, the following individuals threw no-hitters: Braedon West, Christian Flowers and Trevor Niehaus of Lynchburg-Clay combined for one; Braedon West of LC also threw one individually;
Cade Miller of Fairfield, Izayah Clift of Whiteoak, Cole Wells of Lynchburg-Clay and Zane Matthews of Fairfield.

– In softball, Cam Spruell of Hillsboro threw the perfect game, and Katelyn Chambliss and Caitlyn Quickle of Fairfield combined for a perfect game.

– LC’s Allison Rockey scored her 500th career dig in volleyball.

– McClain’s Lily Barnes recorded her 1,500th assist in volleyball.

– Jobey Hattan of Fairfield recorded her 500th career kill in volleyball.

– Lynchburg-Clay’s Jade Massey was named SHAC Player of the Year and SE District Division III Player of the Year in soccer.

– Lynchburg-Clay’s Isaac Eyre was SHAC soccer player of the year.

– Jobey Hattan of Fairfield was SHAC Volleyball Player of the Year.

– Caitlyn Quickle of Hillsboro was SHAC Softball Player of the Year.

– All-Ohio soccer players included Lynchburg-Clay’s Jade Massey, Lainie Lunsford and Isaac Eyre and Fairfield’s Faith Donley.

– All-Ohio football players included McClain’s Andrew Potts, Kaden Penwell and Cade Sponcil and Hillsboro’s Austin Barrett and Gary Reno.

– All-Ohio girls basketball players included Blake Herdman of Hillsboro, Paisley Pryor of McClain, Addison West and Jade Massey of Lynchburg-Clay, Faith Donley of Fairfield and Jaylie Parr of Whiteoak.

– All-Ohio boys basketball players included Tate Davis of Hillsboro, Larkin Friend of Fairfield, Denver Clinton of Lynchburg-Clay and Trey House of Fairfield.

– The All-Ohio softball players were Caitlyn Quickle of Fairfield and Cam Spruell of Hillsboro.

– All-Ohio baseball players included Eli Roberts of Whiteoak and Cade Miller and Gabe Fouch of Fairfield.

– Newcomers to Division I included Caitlyn Quickle of Fairfield, Weston Blair of Whiteoak and Lily Barnes of McClain.

– Whiteoak head coach Chris Veidt has been inducted into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in the class of 2024.

– Tom Purtell of Fairfield received the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association’s Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.

– Fairfield head coach Cohen Frost was named SHAC boys cross country coach of the year.

– SHAC Boys Bowling Coach of the Year was Jarred Combs of Fairfield.

– SHAC Girls Bowling Coaches of the Year were Shawn McLaughlin and Sean Ison, both of Lynchburg-Clay.

– Lynchburg-Clay assistant coach Triston West was named the Southeast District Division III Assistant Coach of the Year.

– Lynchburg-Clay’s Dennis West was named SE District Division III Coach of the Year and was also named SHAC Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.

– Lynchburg-Clay’s Shelby Chisman was named Division III Assistant Coach of the Year.

– Jason West of Lynchburg-Clay was SHAC football coach of the year.

– Kyle Zimmerman of Fairfield was voted by the coaches as the Southeast District Div. IV West Baseball Coach of the Year.

There are most likely many more accomplishments that were not listed, but all in all, the 2023-24 Highland County sports season had great moments for Hillsboro, McClain, Lynchburg-Clay, Fairfield and Whiteoak. Now it’s time for the student-athletes and coaches to enjoy the summer, but before we know it, the fall sports season will be here and all of the athletes and coaches will be competing again to achieve great things in the 2024-25 sports season.

Thank you to everyone involved for another year of excellence for Highland County athletics.

Stephen Forsha is sports editor for The Highland County Press. Reach him at [email protected].

Editor’s note: A free press is critical to well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for fee-based websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has provided a free newspaper and website for our community for 25 years. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be sent to: The Highland County Press, PO Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please indicate “for website” in the subject line.

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