High School Sports

Shawnee Mission East’s Elizabeth Barnickel leads Lancers to Kansas team tennis title

Shawnee Mission East Elizabeth Barnickel returns a serve Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at the 6a State Championship in Topeka.
Shawnee Mission East Elizabeth Barnickel returns a serve Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at the 6a State Championship in Topeka. Special to The Star

Moments after winning the Kansas Class 6A singles title, Shawnee Mission East’s Elizabeth Barnickel already had her perfect celebration planned.

“I’m going to go get some pizza,” she said.

It seems like a natural choice for Barnickel, who admitted she loves pizza so much she eats it at least once every other week.

This one is certainly well-deserved since she not only won the individual title, but helped the Lancers capture their fourth consecutive team title as well on Saturday at the Kossover Tennis Center.

The senior dropped just six games across four matches. She capped her run with a 6-0, 6-2 victory against Topeka Washburn Rural’s Madeline Hill, who was previously undefeated.

“I’m really excited to have played my last high school tennis match and have won it,” Barnickel said. “I guess the cherry on top is winning state my senior year. It was my ultimate goal and it happened.”

She had been close the previous three years, having placed fifth as a freshman and third the past two seasons.

The one downside was that she had to defeat teammate Sarah Wilcox in the semifinals. However, Wilcox bounced back to take third place. Aidan Epstein and Stephanie Wilcox, who were runners-up last year, finished third and Joi Freirich and Larkin McLiney came in sixth.

“I am very excited for the girls, Elizabeth especially,” Lancers coach Sue Chipman said. “Her senior year we wanted it to be that way, and it turned out perfect.”

Shawnee Mission West’s Katherine and Josephine Cao won the doubles title and improved their record to 20-1. Their one loss came against Blue Valley’s Alexa Tiefel and Morgan Steffes, who won the doubles title last season but played as individuals at state this year. Tiefel placed fourth and Steffes finished fifth.

The Caos lost only five games in the tournament and defeated Kylee White and Lindsay Haight of Blue Valley Northwest 6-3, 6-0 in the finals despite trailing early.

“We tried to tell them to take a deep breath and not take yourself so seriously,” Vikings coach Paige Salveter said. “I think they finally realized that they could get back into the match.”

The twins, who are juniors, are planning on playing singles next year.

Led by their performance, Shawnee Mission West finished fifth as a team. Blue Valley North was second, Washburn Rural was third and Blue Valley was fourth.

St. James doubles team takes fifth

Morgan Fangman and Hannah Smith recovered from a second-round loss to win three consecutive matches and take fifth place in the Class 5A state tournament.

The duo finished with a 31-3 record which included a second-place finish at the regional tournament behind the eventual state champions Ally Burr and Makenna Gonzales of Arkansas City.

Rielley finishes third in Class 4A

Although Bishop Miege’s Mary Kate Rielley lost to the eventual Class 4A champion in the semifinals, she bounced back with a 6-0, 6-4 victory against Baldwin’s Sophie Robertson to take third place.

“I am very excited with her finish,” Stags coach Andrew Groene said. “She played well and played smart. She did what she had to do.”

Rielley finished with a 23-8 record for the season.

Vialle, Asbell face off for seventh place

Bishop Miege’s Anna Vialle and Marathana Academy’s Blythe Asbell were the only local players left in the second day of the Class 3-2-1A tournament and they ended up facing each other.

Vialle emerged with a 9-5 pro-set victory to take seventh place. The two teams finished 12th and 15th respectively.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kgier.

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