HESSTON — While it’s most likely top-ranked Kansas City Christian will be crowned the Class 3-2-1A state tennis champion this weekend in Emporia, the Hesston Swathers certainly are on the short list of teams who can at least apply pressure.
Kansas City Christian has the probable singles champion in undefeated Johnny Goodwin and it also qualified its entire team.
But Hesston and Wichita Collegiate, who tied last week for the regional title in Hesston with the Swathers winning the tiebreaker by percentage points, want to at least make things a bit uncomfortable for the boys from KC.
“To qualify all six kids from our regional is a great accomplishment,” longtime Hesston coach Mark Dahlsten said. “Our kids all played well and were focused on the goal. We look forward to competing this weekend at state.”
The Swathers’ lone regional championship came from their top doubles team of Grant Dahlsten and Garrett Roth. The all-junior team was 21-5 this season.
Among the other doubles teams that also will contend are regional champions and top-seed Layne Bieberle and Michael Ryan of Central Plains (29-0), Alex Karstonis and Jackson Vanderak of Kansas City Christian (15-2), and Connick Roe and Jacob Messenger of Kingman (11-3).
Hesston’s other doubles team is Daniel Holthus and Gus Williams, who earned the sixth and final regional spot with a 17-10 record.
Singles is expected to be a two-horse race between the defending champion Goodwin (5-0, injured nearly all season) and Sacred Heart’s Stratton Brown (25-1), whose only loss this season came to Goodwin last week. Easton Ewy of Collegiate (16-2) could be the best of the rest, while other singles champions from last weekend were Wonjoon Cho of Wichita Independent (24-5) and Carson Kirmer of Central Plains (20-10).
Hesston will be led by Collin Martin (23-8), who is making his fourth straight trip to state. Isaac Penner (21-8) was third in last week’s regional. Martin did take Collegiate’s Ewy to three sets last week in the finals, losing 6-3 in the third. Penner will be making his second state trip.