By RICK PETERSON
Hayden's girls tennis team will be out in full force Friday and Saturday in Winfield as the Wildcats defend their Class 4A state championship.
The Wildcats put themselves in position for another strong state performance in Saturday's regional tournament at Kossover Tennis Center, qualifying all six players for state while winning the regional team title by a 19-18 margin over Bishop MIege.
Hayden's doubles team of junior Lauren Sandstrom and sophomore Emily Sheetz, now 26-3, repeated as regional champions with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Bishop Miege's Livi Shull and Ellie Gudex and the Wildcat standouts will enter state as the defending state doubles champs.
The Wildcats also got a fourth-place double finish from sophomores Izzy Glotzbach and Avery O'Bray while sophomore Grace Funk posted a runnerup finish in singles and junior Sofia Sexton qualified for state with a sixth-place regional finish.
"I'm thrilled,'' Hayden coach Christy Sheetz said. "I knew that they could play this well and I knew that they had it in them. To watch them come out here and be able to put into practice all the things that they've learned and worked for this season is really, really gratifying and satisfying.''
Funk (17-13) placed 10th at state last season and is one of three Hayden returners from last year's state title team, along with Sandstrom and Sheetz.
Two time 4A state singles champion Ainzley Zulueta is not playing high school tennis this fall while the Wildcats also graduated a doubles team from last season.
"Of course we miss Zulueta and we also miss the two seniors that we lost,'' Christy Sheetz said. "But we have leaned on Emily and Lauren for leadership and guidance. I'm very impressed, especially with this little doubles team.
"Izzy Glotzbach is a dual sport athlete -- she plays golf and tennis -- and Sofia Sexton, it's fun to have her out and Grace Funk has really stepped up at the No. 1 singles spot. She has done an indredible job.''
Glotzbach and O'Bray are 15-15 on the season while Sexton is 12-18.
CLASS 4A REGIONAL GIRLS TENNIS
At Kossover Tennis Center
Hayden 19, Bishop Miege 18, Clay Center 9, Baldwin 6, Ottawa 4, Wamego 2.
Championship -- Daniel, Bishop Miege, def. Funk, Hayden, 6-2, 6-1.
Third -- Hagman, Baldwin, def. Smith, Clay Center, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Fifth -- Pfizenmaier, Clay Center, def. Sexton, Hayden, 6-1, 6-1.
Championship -- Sandstrom/Sheetz, Hayden, def. Shull/Gudex, Bishop Miege, 6-1, 6-3.
Third -- Kurt/Pedrotti, Bishop MIege, def. Glotzbach/O'Bray, Hayden, 6-3, 6-1.
Fifth -- Paddock/Cain, Ottawa, def. Kramer/Catlin, Clay Center, 6-2, 6-3.
Rural wins 6A regional, Topeka High qualifies in singles, doubles
Washburn Rural added a regional team title on Saturday at Wichita after earlier winning city and Centennial League championships.
Brad Johnston's Junior Blues dominated the regional meet, finishing first and second in doubles and first and fourth in singles to win the team title by a 24-10 margin over Manhattan.
Rural junior Carolina Chedzoy (19-8) won the regional singles championship with a win over Junction City's Hannah Micheel while senior Mena DiMarzio (22-6) qualified for state with a fourth-place singles finish, dropping the third-place match to Manhattan's Keylee Schartz.
Rural seniors Claire Ireland and Gabby Martinez (25-5) won the regional doubles title, topping junior teammates Emerie Catlin and Izzy Haggard (21-7) in an all-Rural championship match.
Topeka High also turned in a solid regional performance, finishing fourth as a team while qualifying senior singles player McCall Beall and the doubles team of senior Sienna Boiteau and sophomore Ava Ritter for state.
Beall (21-5) finished fifth in singles at regionals while Boiteau and Ritter (14-17) placed fifth in doubles.
The 6A state tournament will be played at Junction City Friday and Saturday.