By BRETT MARSHALL
For much of the 2013 boys tennis season, the Garden City Buffaloes have been looking up in the standings at Great Bend, their chief rival in the Western Athletic Conference.
Monday, the WAC Championship at Liberal was more of the same, but perhaps a telling story of the final team outcome — Great Bend winning with 16 points to 12 for the Buffs — could be found in an ankle injury to No. 1 doubles partner Denton Keller in the match prior to playing Great Bend for the title, and in No. 1 singles player Brian Clarke suffering a stomach illness all day.
"No doubt, Great Bend's a really good team and they outplayed us," said GCHS coach Rod Robinson, "but I really believe had we been healthy, we could have given them a run."
As it was, Great Bend won all four divisions — No. 1 and 2 singles and the two doubles competitions as well. Garden City finished second in all four.
After defeating Joseph Cotto of Liberal (8-2), Jonas Gotte of Dodge City (8-2) and Cody Brown of Hays (8-4), Clarke dropped an 8-3 decision to Nick Moyers of Great Bend in the title match.
"Brian really toughed it out considering how he was feeling," Robinson said of Clarke.
Keller and partner Evan Riggs also had handily swept their first three opponents — Angel Hernandez and Buddy Buchanan of Liberal (8-0), Matt Goedeken and Dillon Burkard of Dodge City (8-2) and Andrew McGinnis and Nicholas Glassman of Hays (8-0). But with Keller's ankle swelling, the Buffs' top doubles team struggled, eventually falling to Chase Buntain and Austin Jacobs of Great Bend, 8-3.
"They couldn't play their normal game, and Evan had to try to cover more of the court," Robinson said. "Denton just didn't have the same mobility as he would have."
Sebastian Kyaw captured the runner-up spot at No. 2 singles, going 3-1 for the day. His wins came against Mitchell Irby of Liberal (8-5), Trevor Brock of Dodge City (8-2) and Bayron Rivera of Hays (8-2). He then lost the championship match to Great Bend's Grant Harris, 8-4.
"Sebastian got off to a good start, leading 2-1, and had a break but then the Great Bend got the break back," Robinson said. "From there, it was mostly Great Bend."
The No. 2 doubles team of Brevin Irvin and Dozie Ekweariri also took second. Their wins came against Sergio Borjas and Payton Grant of Liberal (8-0), Robert Askew and Jacob Waldman of Dodge City (8-0) and Austin Berry and Mikey Ploutz of Hays (8-1). The suffered an 8-2 setback to Great Bend's Patrick McClusky and Adam Neeland.
Next up for the Buffs will be the Class 6A regional tournament on Friday at Dodge City. Play is slated to begin at 9 a.m. with the top six singles players and doubles teams advancing to the state tournament in Topeka on May 10 and 11.
The Garden City High School boys golf team finished fourth in the six-team field on Monday at the Great Bend Invitational, which was played at Stoneridge Golf Club.
The Buffs finished with a total of 347, while Dodge City rolled to an easy win with with a score of 303. Great Bend was second at 332 and Hays third at 345. Liberal at 376 and Salina South with a 421 rounded out the team scores.
Tucker Schiffelbein and Austin Swender each shot 84s, with Schiffelbein earning the 10th place position by virtue of a scorecard playoff. Mitch Moore shot an 87 followed by Tristan Corrales and Jacob Law with 92s. Lucas Goss had a 118.
"We're consistent with about where our scores are," said coach Walker Frey. "We've had Austin with a 76 earlier, Jacob with an 80 and now Tucker with an 84. We need to have them shooting those scores on the same day for us to be more competitive."
The Buffs have a busy week as they were headed to Dodge City today for the Red Demons invitational at Mariah Hills Golf Course. On Thursday, they are at the Goddard Invitational, which is to be played at the Tex Consolver Golf Course on the west side of Wichita.