The Rockhurst tennis team found itself in unfamiliar territory in their Class 2 championship against Columbia Rock Bridge on Thursday.
The Hawks were trailing the Bruins 2-1 after the three doubles matches.
"Rock Bridge came out hungry and it looked like they wanted it more than we did," Rockhurst coach Zach Frisch said. "We are evenly matched teams and I challenged the guys after the doubles. I said whoever wanted it more was going to win."
In singles, it looked like the Hawks were the hungry team as they won four of the five completed matches, all in straight sets. That resulted in a 5-3 victory and a third straight state title.
"I really think going down in doubles motivated us," said senior Joe Ibarra, who won his singles match at No. 3 singles against Vaughn Mueller 6-0, 6-0. "We needed some adversity and we responded to the challenge."
Senior Jack Evans (No. 1), junior Justin Nogalski (the clinching match at No. 5) and junior Sinjin Nair (No. 6) were the other singles winners for the Hawks after Nogalski and senior Mikey Michaelia won at No. 3 doubles.
"It's a three-peat for the team but a two-peat for me," said Ibarra, who transferred to Rockhurst from St. Pius X after his sophomore season. "This is the perfect way to end a high school career with a state championship that you can celebrate with your friends. It is the ultimate goal and the best feeling in the world."
The team championship was a record 18th for the school.
"I am just ecstatic right now," Frisch said. "Winning three in a row is unbelievable. This one is especially special for me. This is my fourth year so I have been with these seniors since they were freshmen. I have seen them not only grow as tennis players but from boys to young men. The strength of this team all year has been our depth and that showed today.”
Rockhurst defeated Parkway West 5-0 in the semifinals.
▪ Barstow finished third in Class 1. The Knights lost a three-hour plus semifinal match against eventual Class 1 champion MICDS, 5-1 but bounced back with a convincing 5-0 victory over Greenwood.
Barstow won the five matches, played in an eight-game pro set format, by a combined score of 40-6.
Freshmen Bradley Frye and Brian King led the way with wins in both singles and doubles for the Knights.