After three previous years of chasing, McPherson High senior Ellea Ediger finally grabbed the championship ring.
Ediger just last month won the Class 4A state doubles tennis championship with Rachel Ivers after the duo had finished second the year before. Ediger will join her sister, Emily, on the MHS Wall of Fame in 2017. Emily won a state doubles title with Camry Holle in 2013.
Ediger achieved another milestone on Friday when she signed a letter of intent with NCAA Division II Fort Hays State.
For the longest of time, though, Ediger appeared to be headed to Nebraska to play for Kearney.
"I wasn't even thinking about Fort Hays," she said. "But I know the student (graduate) assistant there (former McPherson College star Rafael Bulnes) and he had been asking me to come out over and over. So I finally gave in and went."
And she's glad she did.
"As soon as I got there I knew it was where I wanted to be," Ediger said. "On the way home I told my mom I wanted to go to Fort Hays."
There already is quite a contingent of McPherson High graduates at the school and she said that made her decision easier since she didn't know anybody at Kearney.
Ediger was remarkably consistent from the time she stepped on to the court as a freshman. She played singles at state her first two years, losing in the finals as a freshman and taking fifth as a junior.
She then switched over to doubles her final two years, losing in the finals with Ivers as a junior and then, of course, winning it all this season.
"It was very satisfying. But it was a big relief," said Ediger, since the Bullpup duo was the top seed and expected to win the title. "It was a lot of fun. It was quite a bit of pressure, but I think Rachel and I took the pressure and used it as motivation."
Ediger’s records were 30-10, 33-5, 33-7 and 36-3 for a 132-25 career record, just three wins shy of the school record for most wins held by Casyn Buchman, who later went on to star at Washburn. But she does now hold MHS records for most state tournament wins (14), most wins in a season (36), most regional championships (4) and most times in the state finals (3).
"This was by far one of the best players ever to go through McPherson," MHS coach Tyler Brown said. "I can't say enough about her. I did the stat book at the end of the year and it was like plugging Ellea's name in under numerous records this year. She definitely left her mark on McPherson High School and we'll never forget Ellea Ediger."
• Honors •
• 4-year Academic All-State recipient
• 2012: USTA Missouri Valley state sportsmanship award
• USTA Missouri Valley region sportsmanship award
• USTA 14's team event sportsmanship award
• Middle School Tennis Outstanding Player of the Year award
• FCA, Kay Club, International Club –4 years
• MHS Hi-Steppers – 3 years
• Will be placed on the Academic ACT “30” boards for Composite, Math, English and Science at MHS (for scoring 30 or higher on her ACT in each category).
Ediger, who will be working hard on her game this summer, is leaning toward majoring in accounting.