Second time for second place
LEMARS – The Estherville Lincoln Central girls team had its best chance to knock off perennial power Spirit Lake-Okoboji at the Lakes Conference Tournament on Saturday.
The Midgettes came up with several key wins throughout the day, but they needed one more match to pull out first place.
SLO won its 11th straight Lakes Conference title by winning 17 matches while ELC won 16 matches. LeMars was a close third with 15 matches in what was essentially a three-team race Storm Lake was fourth with six matches while Spencer and Cherokee each won three. This is the second consecutive year ELC has finished second in the Lakes Conference and the fourth time in five years the Midgettes have been second in the conference tournament.
Four ELC players earned first-team all-conference honors-senior Lexie Hash at the No. 1 singles, junior Erin Olson at the No. 2 singles and seniors Kaylene Vos Kelsie McCauley at the No. 1 doubles.
Both Hash and Olson won key matches to finish where they did.
Hash was the runner-up champion at the No. 1 singles, losing only to LeMars’ Natalie Miller. The key match was against SLO’s Shirley Coenen with Hash pulling out a 5-4 win.
Olson won a key tiebreaker, 5-4 (6-4) over Spirit Lake-Okoboji’s K.J Veldman to win the No. 2 singles bracket.
“Erin played a super match against KJ,” said ELC coach Larry Kirchner. “We knew that it would be competitive.”
Vos and McCauley played in the same bracket as SLO’s top doubles team, Alli Gerkiing and Aubry Kolegraff.
“This was the first time Kaylene and Kelsie have played together and they did an awesome job,” said Kirchner. “The other coaches commented how well they played together.”
Seniors Morgan Kirchner and Emily Swalve finished third in the No. 2 doubles bracket, but still had a chance to give ELC a victory with a win over SLO’s Hannah Coenen and Jamie Kohlhaase in the final match of the day. Unfortunately, they fell 6-3.
“The match was much closer than the score,” said Kirchner.
The coach said he was disappointed in the duo’s loss to LeMars earlier in the day, but the Bulldogs’ Stephanie Young and Catie Meis played mutch better than they did earlier in the season.
ELC now has its sights set on the upcoming postseason play.
“We need to figure out our lineup for the rest of the season and regionals,” said Kirchner.