HESSTON — What has been a glorious year for athletics at Hesston High has a chance to become even more grand this weekend.
The Swathers will be armed with a strong contingent when they compete in the Class 3-2-1A State Tennis Tournament at Goddard High School.
The action starts at 11:30 a.m. Friday, with Saturday’s play firing up at 9:00.
The Swathers captured their regional tournament last week and qualified both doubles teams and a singles entrant.
“I like our chances,” Hesston coach Mark Dahlsten said following the regional success. “I know the kids are excited for a chance to play at state.”
The Swathers’ doubles teams finished first and third last week in the regional. Collin Martin and Isaac Penner, both juniors, are 17-3 on the year, but all that may earn them is a No. 4 seed. This is Martin’s third trip to state, Penner’s first. Dahlsten likes the way they’re playing, but knows doubles is loaded.
Central Plains’ Layne Bieberle and Michael Ryan are 22-0 and the favorite going in, but don’t discount Wichita Independent’s Vishnu Nagireddy and Jacob Maddox, who are 31-3. Kansas City Christian’s Alex Karstonis and Jackson Vander Ark are 15-1, and another team to watch is Wichita Collegiate’s Travis Osland and Max Moxley, who are 12-2 but have played tough competition.
Hesston’s other doubles entry is the all-sophomore duo of Grant Dahlsten and Garrett Roth, who are 24-6. A Top 8 finish certainly would be a goal for them as this is their first appearance at state.
Senior Keegan LeFevre (16-7), in his third state appearance, is entered in singles for the Swathers after taking second in the regional to Sacred Heart freshman wunderkind Stratton Brown, he of the 28-1 record. His top competition will come from Kansas City Christian’s Johnny Goodwin, who is an unblemished 26-0. Wichita Collegiate’s Easton Ewy (23-3) and Ellinwood’s Marc Waite (14-9) were other regional champions last week.
Dahlsten said LeFevre has provided the young Swather team with leadership this year and a Top 5 finish is a real possibility.
As far as the team race, Kansas City Christian and Wichita Collegiate could be the top two teams. KC Christian should get big points from Goodwin in singles and had a 1-2 finish in regional doubles. Collegiate is Collegiate, a tennis factory. It qualified both doubles teams, but surprisingly just one singles player.
Hesston should push both private schools, as the Top 3 receive a plaque.