GHSA champions: Kennesaw Mountain, Brantley Co., Seckinger win 1st ever

Wesleyan leads state with 9; now has championships in all 20 sports it offers
Brantley County's girls tennis team this month won the school's first state championship in any sport. The school and supporters sent players and coaches on an 80-mile limousine ride to the Cheesecake Factory in Jacksonville, Fla., to celebrate.

Credit: Brantley County High School

Credit: Brantley County High School

Brantley County's girls tennis team this month won the school's first state championship in any sport. The school and supporters sent players and coaches on an 80-mile limousine ride to the Cheesecake Factory in Jacksonville, Fla., to celebrate.

Kennesaw Mountain, Brantley County and Seckinger made history with their schools’ first state championships in any sport this academic year while Wesleyan led the state with nine titles. The GHSA staged 187 championships in a season that ended this week with golf and baseball, and 111 of the association’s 457 member schools won at least one.

Kennesaw Mountain, which opened opened in 2000, broke through with its first championship in history May 10 when its boys soccer team won Class 7A with a 2-0 victory over fellow Cobb County school Campbell. The players, most of them seniors, drew a packed gym for a celebratory pep rally the following Monday.

Kennesaw Mountain had been a state runner-up eight times in baseball, volleyball or softball, and the boys soccer team had reached two previous semifinals. Boys soccer coach Danny DePlanche, in his 20th year at the school, has witnessed almost all of those successes and heartbreaks.

“In our pregame talk with the boys, I told them this is bigger than just us; we’re playing for every program in the school that’s come close and hasn’t gotten over the line,” DePlanche said. “We took on that responsibility that we can do this. It was massive once we won it. We just hope we inspire them now to go on and win another one. Kennesaw Mountain can do this.”

Brantley County, a southeast Georgia school, won its historic championship in Class 2A girls tennis. A perennial tennis contender most of this century, the Blue Herons broke through with a 3-2 victory over Jeff Davis after trailing 2-0 in their May 11 match in Rome. With community support, superintendent Kim Morgan rewarded team members Tuesday with a limousine ride 80 miles to the Cheesecake Factory in Jacksonville.

“We are still ecstatic down in Caney Bay for this achievement,” said coach Patrick Stieve, referencing the swampy area over which blue herons fly and on which the school was built in 1967. Stieve’s brother Max is the interim athletic director. They are third-generation teachers in the county and were on the first Brantley tennis team to make the semifinals in 2008

”Winning a state title is not easy, especially in rural South Georgia when you are continuously up against stiff (and often strong private-school) competition in the playoffs,’' Stieve said. “We have worked so hard to get the opportunity to win a state championship. We had 36 conference/region championships in middle school and high school tennis since 2004, and for the 37th to be a state championship, it means everything.’'

Brantley County's girls tennis team got a limousine ride 80 miles to a Cheesecake Factory in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 20, 2024, after winning the school's first state championship in any sport.

Credit: Brantley County Schools

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Credit: Brantley County Schools

The third first-time winner was Seckinger, a two-year-old Gwinnett County school. The Jaguars won the Class 4A-A division of the eSports game of Super Smash Bros. GHSA made eSports a championship sport in 2018.

Wesleyan was the state’s biggest winner. The Wolves’ victories in Class 3A boys and girls lacrosse gave the Peachtree Corners private school at least one championship in all 20 sports that if offers, an unprecedented GHSA achievement. Wesleyan opened a high school in the 1990s and won its first championships in 2001 in girls tennis. Now it has 84.

Westminster won seven state titles, running its state record to 264 in all team sports. Carrollton and Marist won five championships apiece.

Private schools won 58 of this year’s championships, two fewer than last year. Those numbers likely will shrink considerably next academic year as the GHSA’s next classification plan calls for private schools below Class 4A to compete among themselves in state playoffs. That means that public schools in classes 3A, 2A and A will no longer face private-school opposition in state playoffs and meets.

Kennesaw Mountain's boys soccer team is the first sports team from the Cobb County school to win a state championship in 2024. They got a pep rally afterward before the student body.

Credit: Cobb County Schools

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Credit: Cobb County Schools

State titles by school:

9 - Wesleyan

7 - Westminster

5 - Carrollton, Marist

4 - McIntosh, Mount Paran Christian, North Oconee, Prince Avenue Christian

3 - Brookwood, Buford, Camden County, Central-Carrollton, Columbus, Johns Creek, Lambert, Milton, Mount Vernon, Sandy Creek, South Effingham

2 - Athens Academy, Atlanta Classical, Bleckley County, Chattahoochee, Darlington, Grayson, Greater Atlanta Christian, Greenforest Christian, Lake Oconee Academy, Landmark Christian, Lanier County, Northgate, Oconee County, Ola, Pace Academy, Pierce County, Rockmart, Social Circle, Starr’s Mill, Walton, West Forsyth

1 - Alpharetta, Appling County, Aquinas, Atlanta International, Baldwin, Bowdon, Brantley County, Cambridge, Cedar Grove, Cedartown, Chapel Hill, Charlton County, Christian Heritage, Coffee, Creekview, Decatur, Discovery, Etowah, Fellowship Christian, GMC Prep, Greenbrier, Harlem, Harrison, Hebron Christian, Heritage, Catoosa, Hughes, Kell, Kennesaw Mountain, Lakeside-Evans, Lassiter, Lithia Springs, Loganville, Lovett, Lowndes, Lumpkin County, Marietta, Mary Persons, Maynard Jackson, Mitchell County, Mount Pisgah Christian, Newnan, North Cobb, North Cobb Christian, North Forsyth, Northside-Columbus, Northview, Oglethorpe County, Paideia, Peachtree Ridge, Perry, Pope, Providence Christian, River Ridge, Riverwood, Roswell, Savannah Christian, Seckinger, Seminole County, South Forsyth, Southeast Bulloch, St. Francis, Stilwell Arts, Thomas County Central, Toombs County, Trinity Christian, Vidalia, Westlake, Westside-Augusta, Whitefield Academy, Woodward Academy

State titles by sport: