It seems like it comes down to this every season — Wichita Collegiate, McPherson High and Independence battling for Class 4A boys tennis supremacy.
The issue will be resolved on Friday and Saturday in Prairie Village when Miege serves as host for this year’s gathering.
Collegiate is the defending champion, with MHS the 2015 winner. The Bullpups took second to the Spartans last year, losing by just 3 points.
Independence is always there, while Andover Central and host Miege will account for some decent points.
MHS qualified two singles entries in Andrew Snell and Jarrod Nowak, as well as the doubles team of Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart. Collegiate and Independence advanced their entire teams, which gives them a little more scoring potential.
Bullpup coach Tyler Brown has held steadfast as his season-long goal has been his team winning one of the three plaques given out on Saturday.
“Even with four entries, I feel we haven't wavered from our initial goal and that is to bring home some team hardware,” he said. “If we want to win the entire thing, we will obviously need help with other schools delivering some upsets. But that’s why you have to go play. Still anyone’s tournament, but if you are asking me what has to happen for us to win it all, we will have to finish at the top and the other teams that are favored will have to have a hiccup or two along the way.”
With four-time state singles champion Tommy Hunter of Topeka Hayden no long around to dominate the field, there are a host of players who could win it, a far cry from the suspense-less finals of recent years.
Collegiate's Lakelin Conrad, who lost to Hunter in the finals last year, is the top returning player. Also in the field are Independence's Zack Schroeder (third last year), along with Nowak and Snell, who were fifth and sixth last year, respectively.
Miege’s Will Grier, who was a state doubles champion last year, is now playing singles and has to be reckoned with. Then there’s Parsons’ Rudra Dixit, who upset Schroeder last week in the regional finals. Collegiate’s Easton Ewy is another top player, which means the four quarterfinal matches will have a state finals feel.
Doubles is a little more open. Schrader and the graduated Kento Aizawa lost in the finals last year to Miege’s Grier and John Schultz. That leaves the door wide open for a host of teams.
Regional champions last week were Jason Berven-Jase West of Abilene, Sam Hilger-Will Schabel of Independence, Austin Gartner-Matt Regehr of Collegiate and Sean Sandstrom-Hayden Federico of Hayden. Schrader and Stewart are going to have to beat a regional champion in the quarters to make the Final Four.
Abilene’s Berven was the fourth-place finisher at state last year in singles.
No matter what happens for the Bullpups, they have to be emboldened by the fact all four of their qualifiers are underclassmen. Four of Collegiate’s six qualifiers are seniors.
• CLASS 4A QUALIFIERS •
Regional Code: B — Buhler, C—Chanute, P — Pratt, T — Topeka Hayden
• SINGLES •
1B. Andrew Snell, jr., McPherson (26-7)
1C. Rudra Dixit, fr., Parsons (28-6)
1P. Lakelin Conrad, jr., Collegiate (18-5)
1T. Will Grier, sr., Bishop Miege (18-2)
2B. Jarrod Nowak, so., McPherson (20-5)
2C. Zach Schroeder, sr., Independence (24-2)
2P. Easton Ewy, sr., Collegiate (15-3)
2T. Peyton Graves, sr., Paola (15-2)
3B. Jared Smart, sr., Buhler (19-16)
3C. Luke Bass, sr., Independence (24-7)
3P. Brock Edwards, sr., Wellington (19-8)
3T. Jacob Crabtree, sr., Spring Hill (16-11)
4B. Cole Brumbaugh, so., Smoky Valley (18-12)
4C. Gavin Crowe, jr., Winfield (19-13)
4P. Drew Starbuck, fr., Colby (23-11)
4T. Miles Zeller, sr., Bishop Miege (13-10)
5B. Luke Wells, jr., Haven (22-6)
5C. Isaiah Fawson, sr., Iola (21-11)
5P. Josiah Evans, so., Scott City (23-6)
5T. Tyler North, fr., Spring Hill (16-11)
6B. Jacob Wilson, so., Andover Central (8-7)
6C. Isaac Stringer, so., Parsons (10-8)
6P. Nick Orth, jr., Larned (14-10)
6T. Matt Schultz, jr., Ottawa (12-13)
• DOUBLES •
1B. Jacob Berven, sr.-Jase West, jr., Abilene (18-1)
1C. Sam Hilger, sr.-Will Schabel, sr., Independence (27-8)
1P. Austin Gartner, sr.-Matt Regehr, sr., Collegiate (8-1)
1T. Sean Sandstrom, so.-Hayden Federico, jr., Topeka Hayden (27-5)
2B. Nolan Schrader, jr.-Kaden Stewart, jr., McPherson (21-3)
2C. Kyle Woods, sr.-Logan Payne, so., Independence (6-5)
2P. Ben Murphy, sr.-Max Wheeler, so., Collegiate (10-4)
2T. Auggie Lange, sr.-Luke Laskowski, jr., Baldwin (19-4)
3B. Jason Reilly, jr.-Jason Thompson, jr., Andover Central (13-1)
3C. Kyle Hutley, sr.-Adam Ball, sr., Parsons (18-5)
3P. Luke Prohaska, sr.,-George Kriwiel, jr., Trinity Academy (18-7)
3T. Foster Hoch, jr.-Coleton Nelson, jr., Bonner Springs (16-5)
4B. Nick Reinert, jr.-Johan Rauchholz, fr., Smoky Valley (24-8)
4C. Alvaro Ribas, jr.-Trey Kasten, sr., Chanute (17-5)
4P. Logan Clark, jr.-Zac Wyse, so., Hays (9-9)
4T. Ryan Wessling, sr.-Noah Buckley, sr., Baldwin (18-6)
5B. Hunter Wiehl, sr.-Camrin Engelken, fr., Buhler (21-10)
5C. Tyler Johnson, sr.-Mason Holmes, sr., El Dorado (18-7)
5P. Bo Hess, sr.-Isaac Evans, sr., Scott City (30-3)
5T. Noah Jackley, jr.-Garrett Hagen, fr., Bishop Miege (11-9)
6B. Jack Jewett, so.-Noah Spurgeon, fr., Maize South (12-9)
6C. Fisher Lund, jr.-Brayden Frederick, so., Chanute (18-3)
6P. Kobe Kraisinger, sr.-Dalton Penka, so., Larned (19-8)
6T. Lance Lao, sr.-Chaz Corredor, sr., Bishop Miege (10-10)