Barons repeat as Section Two champ Fall to Cedar Crest in L-L team semis
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
The Manheim Central boys tennis team knew that it was losing two quality players from last year in Drew Wolgemuth and Jerred Hall.
They also knew that they had returning players who were ready to step up.
And they didn’t disappoint.
While losing just four courts in nine league matches this spring, the Barons stampeded their way to their second straight Section Two championship, capping things off with a 7-0 whitewashing of Pequea Valley last Thursday in Manheim.
The win improved their final Section record to 9-0 (14-0 overall).
"Anytime you can go back-to-back winning the Section is awesome," Ryan Jeckel said. "That gives you the chance to get to post-season play, so it’s always good."
The Barons’ post-season began on Monday, when they hosted Section One runner-up Cedar Crest in the L-L League Team Tournament semi-finals. Unfortunately for MC, they came up a little short in that match, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Falcons.
"It was a good match," Jeckel said. "We played well. They beat us. They played well, but (Crest) played a little better."
The doubles team of Chris Good and Gray Good, who combined for a perfect 7-0 league record in the regular season, continued their hot play by recording the Barons’ only win, defeating Crest’s Alex Koltun and Henry Overhult in three sets, 7-6 (7-2), 1-6, 6-2 at first doubles.
Central’s doubles team of Alastair Proud and Sam Erk also went to three sets, but fell just short 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1).
Earlier, the Falcons prevailed in all three singles matches, with Weston Fortna defeating Colin Wolgemuth 6-1, 6-1 at number one, Colin Muriaka winning 6-1, 6-2 over Josh Kaiser at two, and Ryan Zinn outdueling Jack Rathmell 6-1, 6-3 at three.
"Those three are solid," Jeckel said of Fortna, Muriaka and Zinn. "There’s a senior at one, a senior at three and a freshman in the middle. That’s kinda the lineup we had going last year."
Although the Barons hated to lose Drew Wolgemuth and Hall, Colin Wolgemuth (Drew’s younger brother) and Kaiser went 6-0 in Section play at one and two, respectively, while Rathmell and Gray Good were 6-0 and 7-0 rounding out the top four. Rathmell, the number two player at McCaskey last year, transferred into the school district in the off-season.
"That was a huge pick-up for us," Jeckel said of adding Rathmell.
Rathmell added depth to a Barons’ team that was already strong. The fact that several of Manheim Central’s Section Two rivals also sustained tough graduation losses didn’t hurt their chances.
"Not that you can ever really replace some of the guys that we lost, but I knew I had guys to step up," Jeckel said. "We definitely thought we had a good shot at taking the Section again, and then we really knew we were going to be up against some stiff competition coming out of Section One. We actually thought Cedar Crest was going to be the number one seed out of Section One. We thought we were going to have to play Hempfield, but then Hempfield beat Cedar Crest."
The only teams to take points from the Barons this spring in losing causes in Section Two play were Donegal (6-1), Annville-Cleona (5-2) and Garden Spot (6-1).
"We’ve been there before where the Section kinda rolls along and we get through those matches and then when we get to some tighter competition, we tend to struggle with that sometimes because we haven’t been pushed," Jeckel said. "Not to take anything away from our opponents. It’s just kind of the difference between Section One and Section Two and the size of schools, really."
The Barons will now look to bounce back in the L-L Singles Tournament, which gets underway Thursday.
"We’re just trying to get some guys to move on," Jeckel said. "Flight One singles is going to be tough this year. But I have two really solid doubles teams (Chris Good/Gray Good and Wolgemuth/Kaiser) in Flight One doubles. We’ll see what happens."
Last Friday in the Barons’ win over Pequea Valley, MC took all four singles matches behind Wolgemuth (6-1, 6-3), Kaiser (6-0, 6-0), Rathmell (6-4, 6-1) and Chris Good (6-1, 7-5).
In doubles play, Wolgemuth and Kaiser teamed up for an 8-2 decision, Gray Good and Chris Good were on the winning side of an 8-0 score, and Alastair Proud and Samuel Erk came away with an 8-3 victory. More BARONS, page B-6