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The 2023-24 sports seasons were full of big moments of excellence 

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Highland County Press Sports Editor Stephen Forsha
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

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

Friday, May 31 will live forever in the history of Whiteoak High School, as that was the date the school gained their first state champion.

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

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

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

The cross-country season also saw Fairfield be crowned champions of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference.

The fall also included Lynchburg-Clay boys soccer in 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, even though their SHAC streak of having a win or tie without a loss ended at 73 games.  

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

There were also the Lady Mustangs and Fairfield Lady Lions each winning a district soccer championship, as they faced each other in the regional semifinals this past season with LCHS advancing to the regional final with a 2-1 score in one of the best games played all season, no matter the sport. 

Fairfield volleyball won the SHAC Div. II title as well this past fall season.

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

McClain football also snapped a five-year FAC losing streak this past season when they beat Chillicothe.

In the winter sports season, Fairfield basketball stood out the most as they built a three-season winning streak (not counting tournament games) of 39 games, until that historic winning streak ended with a loss to North Adams, 59-50. That said, the Lions still were a huge success as they won Division II in the SHAC, plus won a sectional and district championship. Fairfield’s first district title in a decade saw them defeat Federal Hocking, 56-52 at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.

In more basketball accolades, 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 games, and both LCHS bowling teams qualified for the OHSAA Division II State Bowling Championships.

Also, we can’t forget the Fairfield boys bowling team won the SHAC championship.

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

Now for the recent spring season, the Fairfield Lions baseball team achieved success with a Division II SHAC championship, a sectional championship, their first district championship since 2002, and played in their first regional championship game in 26 years.

This spring also saw the McClain girls track and field team win an FAC championship and were district runners-up, plus they sent two relay teams (including Becca Bergstrom, Larah Henson, Kaitlyn Jett, Mylie Lovett and Luca Matesic) and a 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 state (with Remi Moon placing eighth at state in the high jump event, plus Faith Donley running the 400m). The Whiteoak boys had a total of four runners at state (one relay team, including Sawyer Blair and Keegan Eyre), with Weston Blair placing sixth in the 800-meter run, and Eyre not only with the 3200m state championship, plus he was third in the 1600m run.

In softball, the Hillsboro Lady Indians won their 40th consecutive FAC game, gaining their fourth consecutive conference championship with a 10-0 mark in ’24, plus they added a sectional title for the second consecutive season.

Lynchburg-Clay won their second straight SHAC Division I championship in softball with a ’24 conference record of 8-5.

The Fairfield softball, Lynchburg-Clay baseball and Whiteoak softball teams all won sectional championships as well this spring.

There were even more accomplishments on the individual and coaching levels, as the following were some of standout moments and achievements throughout the school year:

- McClain’s Ethan Hill qualified for the state wrestling tournament, where he went 1-2, and also earned his 100th career wrestling win during the winter season.

- McClain’s Elana Unger made the state swimming tournament for a third straight year and was second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard butterfly in para swimming.

- In cross-country, Whiteoak’s Landen Eyre won an individual SHAC title for a third straight year, plus district and regional championships; then he won the SHAC, district and regional championships in the 3200m run before winning the aforementioned state title, plus district and SHAC titles in the 1600m run.

- Basketball 1,000-point scorers included: Lynchburg-Clay’s Macy Etienne, Jade Massey, and Addison West, and for Whiteoak, Jaylie Parr.

- Hillsboro’s Gary Reno earned his 100th wrestling win.

- Hillsboro’s Cam Spruell got her 500th strikeout and was also FAC Softball Player of the Year.

- Hillsboro’s Tate Davis was FAC Player of the Year and Co-District 14 Coaches POY for boys basketball.

- Southern Hills Athletic Conference Boys Bowler of the Year was Fairfield’s Ethan Fetters.

- Baseball and softball no-hitters were thrown by: Lynchburg-Clay’s Braedon West, Christian Flowers and Trevor Niehaus combined for one; LC’s Braedon West also had one as individual;
Fairfield’s Cade Miller; Whiteoak’s Izayah Clift; Lynchburg-Clay’s Cole Wells; and Fairfield’s Zane Matthews.

- Softball perfect games were thrown by Hillsboro’s Cam Spruell; and Fairfield’s Katelyn Chambliss and Caitlyn Quickle combined for a perfect game.

- LC’s Allison Rockey got her 500th career dig in volleyball.

- McClain’s Lily Barnes got her 1,500th assist in volleyball.

- Fairfield’s Jobey Hattan got 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 for soccer.

- Lynchburg-Clay’s Isaac Eyre was SHAC Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

- Fairfield’s Jobey Hattan was SHAC Volleyball Player of the Year.

- Hillsboro’s Caitlyn Quickle 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 as well as Hillsboro’s Austin Barrett and Gary Reno.

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

- All-Ohio boys basketball players were Hillsboro’s Tate Davis, Fairfield's Larkin Friend, Lynchburg-Clay's Denver Clinton and Fairfield's Trey House.

- All-Ohio softball players were Fairfield’s Caitlyn Quickle and Hillsboro’s Cam Spruell.

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

- Division I commits included Fairfield’s Caitlyn Quickle, Whiteoak’s Weston Blair and McClain’s Lily Barnes.

- Whiteoak head coach Chris Veidt was selected to the 2024 class of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

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

- Fairfield head coach Cohen Frost was named the 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’s Division III Assistant Coach of the Year.

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

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

- Lynchburg-Clay’s Jason West was SHAC Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

- Fairfield’s Kyle Zimmerman was Southeast District Div. IV West Baseball Coach of the Year as selected by coaches.

There are most likely plenty more achievements that weren’t listed, but all in all, the 2023-24 Highland County sports season for Hillsboro, McClain, Lynchburg-Clay, Fairfield and Whiteoak had great moments. Now it is time for the student-athletes and coaches to enjoy the summer, but before we know it, fall sports season will be here, and all of the athletes and coaches will be back competing to achieve greatness for the 2024-25 sports season.

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

Stephen Forsha is the sports editor of The Highland County Press. He can be reached at

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