LINCOLN — The Grand Island Central Catholic boys tennis team finished in the top five at the boys state tennis tournament.
The Crusaders came home with three medalists to help them finish fourth with 27 1/4 points after Friday’s action at the Woods Tennis Center in Lincoln.
Elkhorn Mt. Michael Benedictine edged Omaha Skutt for the team title 50 1/4-49.
GICC coach James Lowry said he was pleased with how the Crusaders performed, especially since they returned only two returning varsity players off of last year’s fifth-place team.
“People might have thought we were going to have a rebuilding year but for us to finish fourth shows how hard these kids have worked,” he said.
The No. 1 doubles team of Jackson Farias and Jackson Henry dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to Mt. Michael’s William Mallisee and Ethan Pentel in the semifinals. The duo bounced back to defeat Kearney Catholic’s Blake Thiele and Kade Schrock 6-2, 6-4 to take third.
The No. 2 doubles team of Koby Bales and Jonathan Schardt fell to top-seed Gavin Brummund and Avelino Hanmer of Skutt 7-5, 6-3. They also lost to
to Joel Miller and Nathaniel Miller of McCook 6-1, 6-7 (1-7), 6-4 to finish fourth.
Lowry said he liked what he saw from the two teams.
“They represented GICC tennis and our school very well, probably about as well as any group of players that I’ve had,” Lowry said. “They competed at every point and didn’t look at the scoreboard. They are all a class act. They are the kind of people you want to have on your team. Everything they do makes you proud to say that you coached those players.”
Eli Fox went 1-1 in the consolation matches to finish sixth. He won his first match 8-3 over Mt. Michael’s Quinn Mcmahon before falling to York’s Emmett Heiss 8-1.
“His first match was probably the best tennis he had played,” Lowry said. “Then he ran into a talented kid from York in his final match. But overall, I thought he had a great tournament.”
Lowry said he enjoyed coaching the Crusaders, who lose Farias and Bales to graduation, this sesaon, especially when there was a chance the players might not have gotten the chance to compete this season because of COVID-19.
“I feel like I’m one of the blessed coaches in the world when I get to coach kids like these every single day. They work hard and stay after it. They had great chemistry with each other,” Lowry said. “Jackson and Koby showed great senior leadership. Koby steps in as an alternate and performs very well at state and I can’t say enough good things about Jackson. I’ve had better players but I don’t know if I’ve ever had very many better people than him. As a leader, person and teammate.
“We lose those players but we have other kids that can hopefully step up. I think when they have success, it gets them to play more and try to have more success. I think these kids will continue to work hard and improve. Lastly, these kids just competed every point and worked so hard. They did a great job representing our school and our team very well. It’s great to be associated with these young men.”
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