LINCOLN — To say Grand Island Central Catholic overachieved at the Class B Boys State Tennis Tournament would be an understatement.
Afterall, the Crusaders scored only 10.25 points and had only one of its teams make the second day last year.
At this year’s state meet, GICC had all of their teams compete on the second day to bring home medals. Despite finishing with no champions, the Crusaders finished fifth with 33.5 points on a very windy Friday at Woods Tennis Center in Lincoln.
York won the team title with 50.5 points, just 1.5 more than runner-up Elkhorn Mt. Michael. Omaha Skutt was third with 37 and McCook took fourth with 35.
“I just can’t say enough about these kids,” GICC coach James Lowry said. “Last year, I think they felt they let the program down. They did not want that to happen again. These kids worked very hard over the summer. I think they believed they could do something. For us to finish fifth is really something and it’s great to be around kids like this.”
The Crusaders had some heartbreak in the semifinals from their two teams that were No. 1 seeds, but both bounced back to take third.
Daniel Martinez was the No. 1 seed at No. 2 singles. He lost to Mt. Michael’s William Mallisee 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted over 2 1/2 hours. But he bounced back to defeat Skutt’s Christian Norris 6-2, 7-6 (7-3).
Meanwhile, seniors Jacob McNamara and Jack Friesen were the No. 1 seed at No. 2 doubles. They dropped a 7-5, 6-4 decision to Mt. Michael’s Alex Payne and Jose Castillo in the semis before coming back to take third with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win over Justice Hanmer and Gavin Brummund from Skutt.
“I knew the kids would respond,” Lowry said. “They’ve done that all year and they compete from the start to finish. It’s great to see.
“Daniel had a hard time adjusting to the wind and maybe had some negative thoughts. I know he’s upset he didn’t win but I’m happy to see him come back to get third. I thought Jack and Jacob played well against the Mt. Michael’s kids but just couldn’t get the win, but they came back to defeat a very talented Skutt team and got the win in straight sets. They played well together. I was glad to see they finished their careers with a win.”
Eli Fox brought home a fourth-place finish at No. 1 singles. The Crusader senior, who was seeded fourth, lost both his matches Friday. He lost to eventual champion Issac Gart of Elkhorn Mt. Michael 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals, then lost to Connor Barrett of Omaha Skutt 6-4, 6-3.
“He ran into a buzzsaw in the semifinals. That kid is a great player who won 6-0, 6-0 in the finals today,” Lowry said.
“He struggled to get going in the third-place match and he would be the first to tell you that’s not how he wanted to finish his career. But he’s played for four years and been a great leader for us. He’ll be hard to replace as a leader.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Jackson Farias and Jonathan Schardt went 1-1 on the day to take sixth after suffering a loss in the quarters Thursday.
They defeated Ralston’s Matthew Neville and Kaleb Holm 8-4 before falling to Kearney Catholic’s Brandt Groskreutz and Blake Thiele 8-4.
“They had a tough season but we were happy to see them come in with a seed with under a .500 record. To come in and get sixth, which was under their seed shows how relisant our kids are,” Lowry said.
Lowry said he really enjoyed coaching this Crusader team this year.
“I didn’t know where we would be at the beginning of the year,” he said. “But the kids put a lot of time in and got a lot better over the course of the year. They believed they could and that’s a credit to them.”