WINFIELD — The No. 2-ranked tennis team in Class 4A was one point better than the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3-2-1A.
The result was the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division III-IV championship for McPherson High.
The Bullpups, getting tremendous play from top to bottom, scored 61 points to outlast Wichita Collegiate by a tally in a field that included a passel of future state qualifiers and potential champions.
Buhler made it a three-team race with 55 points, with Winfield scoring 41. Other totals were Wellington (24), Circle (16), Augusta (13) and El Dorado (10).
MHS coach Tyler Brown wasn’t sure on Saturday how he’d line up his troops, but after a long deliberation, his plan worked to perfection.
Luke Williams and Kento Aizawa teamed up to win the No. 1 doubles division with a 3-0 record, while Andrew Snell and Nolan Schrader combined to win the No. 2 division.
Kaden Stewart came up huge at No. 1 singles with a second-place finish, going 2-1, and Gallagher Martin was 1-2 for fourth at No. 2.
“As a team we started out with a bang with everyone cruising to the semifinals,” Brown said. “Once the semifinals hit I knew we were going to have our work cut out for us, but the boys really came through making it to the finals in three out of the four divisions.”
A key may have been Stewart at No. 1 singles. He was in a high-powered division, yet nearly won the title.
“Kaden Stewart had a terrific win over the No. 2 seed from Winfield in the semis after a slow start,” Brown said. “Kaden did an excellent job just to outlast his opponent, making Deere from Winfield go the distance winning in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.”
As it turned out, the tournament hinged on the day’s final match. Needing a victory at No. 1 doubles, Williams and Aizawa lost the first set to Buhler 6-3, but stormed back for 6-2 and 7-5 wins, which gave the Bullpups the one-point victory.
What makes the Bullpups’ championship remarkable is that they’re a team that’s half-filled with freshmen — Stewart, Snell and Schrader. Aizawa is a junior, and Williams and Martin are seniors.
MHS now readies itself for the regional on Friday and Saturday in Lindsborg. Other teams in the field are Abilene, Chapman, Clay Center, Colby, Concordia, Hays, Larned and Smoky Valley.