WINFIELD — McPherson High School seniors Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers now have seven state medals between the two of them, and one doubles state championship.
Saturday afternoon in Winfield, Ediger and Ivers completed tremendous senior campaigns with a 6-1, 6-1 state championship victory over Grace Uhlenhop and Jordyn Maddex of Andover Central.
The senior duo never dropped a set the entire tournament, helping the Bullpups take second as a team.
“We had an outstanding state tournament,” Head Coach Tyler Brown said. “All six of our girls took home a state medal. Normally that would be good enough to win a state title. I’m sure [Ellea and Rachel] known the magnitude of the match they were in, but they displayed compassion and friendship that impacted the youth. My four-year-old son during their match, stands by the fence watching the doubles tandem go after a state title, and they walk up to the fence and give him a fist pound. Those are the things I will remember about these seniors. Little things like that are what are awesome to see. The most impactful things I will remember, not that we won this tournament or that tournament, it will be the friendship and compassion and friendship and tender hand they extend to the youth.”
Ediger and Ivers took second place a season ago, and experience they gained from playing in a state championship match was on full display early on.
The Bullpup duo jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, which they rode to a 6-1 win. The teams split the first two games in the second set, before Ediger and Ivers won five straight games to solidify their spot on the McPherson High School Wall of Fame.
For Ediger, it’s her first win in a state championship match in three tries, having placed second in singles as a freshman, and second in doubles last year with Ivers. Ediger also took fifth in singles as a sophomore.
Ivers collected her third straight state medal, dating back to 2014 when she took fifth in doubles with Madison Hoffman.
“A story I will always tell is how Ellea, in her freshman year, was playing in the state tournament in Topeka, and found her way to the semifinals,” Brown said. “She was down 0-5 in the third set and never gave up. Every time I went to talk to her, I was like just win one game, and go from there. Not only did she win one game, she reeled off seven games straight, and found herself in the 4A state finals as a freshman. When our McPherson teams gather around under our gazebo and the McPherson courts and sit and reflect on tournaments, this is always one I share with our teams.”
But it was more than a two person show, as the Bullpups were fighting for a team state championship until the very end.
The Bullpups scored 35 team points, just three shy of first place Wichita Collegiate. The Bullpups were also the only team in 4A to have all six players bring home a state medal.
Heidi Myers also completed her McPherson High career on Saturday, as she teamed up with freshman Taylor Bruce to take ninth.
Myers and Bruce one a huge, three-set match in the first round, before being sent backside in the second round. After two straight wins Friday night to stay alive, Myers and Bruce went 2-1 on Saturday, and ended their season with a 9-5 win over Independence for ninth.
According to Brown, there isn’t a harder working player on the team than Myers.
“When I leave practice and head back to the high school courts, who is out working on their game but Heidi,” Brown said. “I don’t know how many times I would pick up my middle son up from football practice, and she was out there hitting with her sister, her boyfriend or anyone else she could call up to go out there. You just love to see that hard work from afar, and know they are doing everything they can to succeed.”
The Bullpups return half their team next year, but the three seniors the Bullpups lose will be hard to replace both on and off the tennis courts.
“Ellea, Rachel and Heidi left their mark on McPherson girls tennis the right way,” Brown said. “All year long they showed the underclassman what it takes to succeed at the highest level. They lead by example — though leadership, hard work, compassion, friendship and determination — to never give up. It says something about our team that when you do get that loss in day one, sometimes it’s easy to just say it was not my day. Somehow every one of our girls continued to battle and find their way through the draw and to day two, which meant they were going to be in the top 12. That was one thing I think sometimes I overlook, just because that is our expectation in McPherson.”
Along with Bruce, the Bullpups return junior Maisie Edmonson and freshman Rachel Carlson, who took seventh and 12th place in singles respectively.
Edmonson made it to the quarterfinals, before running into two-time state champion Brooklyn Hunter of Topeka Hayden. Edmonson finished state with a 3-2 record, and a 9-2 win over Andover Central’s Colby Fugit for seventh. Fugit defeated Edmonson in the regional championship match, but Edmonson ultimately ended up with the last laugh.
As for Carlson, she was the lone freshman in the singles draw, and has a tremendous future ahead of her. After starting the year at the junior varsity level, Carlson earned her spot on the varsity roster, and ended up earning a spot in the state tournament, after a fourth place finish at regionals.
Carlson made the most of her chance at state, playing a team high seven matches at state, en route to a 12th place finish. She went 3-1 on Friday to qualify for the second day, which was the ultimate goal for both singles players.
“Maisie, Taylor and Rachel will be our core group coming back next year,” Brown said. “With what our senior players instilled in them is what makes our tradition great. They laid the foundation of the characteristics that show in these young ladies.”
The Bullpups will have three spots to fill for next year, with Ashley Achilles most likely filling one of them. Other names to keep an eye out for include: Daphane Carrillo, Madison Schmidt, Jensen Mierkiewicz, Caitlin Faulk and Lexi Verow.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel.