PRATT — It one was of the deepest and closest state tournaments McPherson High School head coach Tyler Brown had ever been apart of.
In some years, qualifying an entire team for the state tournament guaranteed you would be in the running for a top-three finish and some hardware. Unfortunately, this year was not one of those years.
Including McPherson, five teams in 4A qualified an entire team for state, while three teams brought five of six girls to state. With the competition at its steepest, the Bullpups finished seventh at state thanks to three state medalists.
The doubles team of senior Maisie Edmonson and sophomore Taylor Bruce led the way in fourth place, while freshman CeAnna Allen took 10th place in singles. Although the Bullpups are a team that annually competes for a state championship, Brown was pleased with the way his players competed at state.
“We had a fantastic year; I know our goal was to take home some hardware, but I did know that we had one of the deepest classifications this year,” Brown said.
Heading into state, the Bullpups knew they were going to heavily rely on Edmonson and Bruce. The duo won the Smoky Valley Regional the week prior to state, making them one of the four No. 1 seeds.
After breezing past their first opponents, Edmonson and Bruce came out on top in a three-set match in the quarterfinals, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1. After starting 2-0, the duo finished 0-2 with a loss to the eventual state champions from Wichita Collegiate in the semifinals, and a competitive, straight-set loss in the third place match to a team from Wellington.
Edmonson finished her McPherson tennis career with a state medal in singles and doubles. Bruce still has two more years left, but is off to a great start earning state doubles medals as a freshman and sophomore.
“Maisie and Taylor played an outstanding quarterfinal against Independence to reach the semifinals right where I assumed they would be,” Brown said. “But from the semifinals on I knew with the teams that were left, they would have to play some awesome tennis. They ran into Collegiate which played extremely well against us. In the third place match, I felt like it was one we could have won, but we didn’t play our best tennis, and Wellington raised their game on the right points to get us in straight sets — each set being extremely close.”
McPherson’s other doubles team of Cheyann Williams and Ashley Achilles went 0-2. Williams ended her senior season at state, while Achilles will be a senior next year.
“Ashley and Cheyann had an extremely tough draw,” Brown said. “They opened the tournament with Independence’s No. 1 team and then had to go backside and play Cirlce’s No. 1 team, which they played extremely well but just ran out of gas late in that match.”
The Bullpups had a solid chance of medaling both singles players, but ran into some unfortunate luck. Both Allen and sophomore Rachel Carlson lost their first match, setting up an all-McPherson elimination match just two matches into the tournament. Allen came out on top 9-3, and would go 3-2 from there to take 10th. The future is bright with Allen and Carlson in singles, as both have medaled at state in their young careers.
“The draw on the singles side was not in our favor,” Brown said. “I was maybe impressed with CeAnna the most, being the only freshman in 4A on the singles side, and finishing 10th! That alone pretty much sums up her tourney; very impressive.”
The Bullpups graduate three seniors — Edmonson, Williams, and Madison Schmidt — but return four players with state experience, along with an 8th grade class that was undefeated in the Pioneer League.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel