EMPORIA — The stars were in perfect alignment.
Hesston High’s boys tennis team knew that everything would have to fall just perfectly for it to win the Class 3-2-1A state championship on Saturday.
And it did.
In a dramatic three-team horse race that came down to a photo finish, the Swathers scored 41 points, Wichita Collegiate 40 and pre-tournament favorite Kansas City Christian 39 as the other teams were reduced to bystanders, though they did have some say about which team won it.
Ironically in the final state rankings last week, Kansas City Christian was No. 1, Collegiate was No. 2 and Hesston was No. 3.
It was the first Hesston state title since 1987, the year before Swather coach Mark Dahlsten arrived. Dahlsten was a state champion during his high school days at Lindsborg for his father, the legendary Ron “Mr. D” Dahlsten, and while he joins those who have won state as a player and coach, he also joins the select club of coaching his son, Grant, who was a member of Saturday’s state championship team.
The Swathers did it with their consistency. Singles players Isaac Penner and Collin Martin were fourth and fifth, respectively. The doubles team of Dahlsten and Garrett Roth placed fourth, while not to be overlooked was the 10th-place doubles finish by Daniel Holthus and Gus Williams, as every point counted.
Kansas City Christian actually had both the singles champion in Johnny Goodwin, and the doubles champions in Alex Karstonis and Jackson Vanderak, who toppled Central Plains’ previously undefeated team of Layne Bieberle and Michael Ryan in a three-set final.
Kansas City Christian, however, scored only three other points in the tournament.
A key match was at fifth place in singles, where Martin and rival Lakelin Conrad of Wichita Collegiate were locked in a 6-6 battle, when Conrad was forced to retire with severe cramps.