"Who would have thought that when we got beat by Hannibal 1-11 at the beginning of the season that we were in the hunt for the conference championship?" asked MHS head coach Susan Carney. "These guys make things happen."
The Owls played for titles in four of the six singles divisions and two of three doubles groups, but the only win came from senior Alan Magana at No. 3 singles. He avenged a loss earlier in the season to Hannibal junior Blake Hosley with a 10-8 decision.
"What can I say? What an athlete!" Carney gushed about Magana, an all-state soccer player who as an underclassman had not gone out for tennis. "He gives you every ounce he has to win."
Marshall's other finals tilts were competitive, but not as close. Senior Anthony Van lost to sophomore Daniel Fohey of the Tigers at No. 4, 10-6, the same score by which sophomore Ryan Vereyken dropped his No. 6 contest against Fulton senior JoeRyan Anderson -- with whom he had split two matches earlier in the week.
Junior Jacob Ringlen was also knocked off by a Hornet, senior Zachary Hegemann, for the third time this week to finish second at No. 5.
The Owls' top two singles players were involved in third-place matches after winning two of their first three, both settling for fourth place. Freshman No. 1 Gerritt Murphy was downed by Kirksville junior Austin Motley for the second time on the day, 9-7, while junior No. 2 Trent Clause lost a 9-8 (7-3) tiebreaker to Moberly junior Justin Coleman.
The No. 1 Marshall doubles team of junior Quentin Failor and freshman John Hadley got to the finals before losing to the Hannibal duo of sophomore Austin Haynes and junior Brett Hinton, 10-3. That followed a semifinal victory over a Fulton team which had beaten Failor and Hadley twice that week.
The Owls' No. 2 combo, freshman Jude Staley and junior Raven White, suffered the same fate at the end -- a 10-5 loss to the Pirates' duo of sophomore Jacob Hammock and freshman Nathan Myers.
After splitting their first two contests at No. 3, sophomore Andrew Markes and junior Deeno Aguit were down 7-6 and trying to force a tiebreaker against sophomore Zach Heimericks and senior Alex McLachlan of Fulton in the third-place match, with a 40-15 lead in the decisive game. However, Markes took a spill and hurt his knee, forcing the Owls to withdraw.
At the end of a 16-hour day, Carney was about as pleased as possible about her squad's effort.
"I could not ask for more than they gave," she remarked. "It was a great day of tennis for the Owls."
Marshall will need more good days this week, when they play in the Class 1, District 8 Team Tournament -- starting today at home against Father Tolton Catholic of Columbia -- and host the individual district tourney Saturday.