Perfection! Seaman's Unruh and Sweeney cap 36-0 year with 5A title

Rick Peterson


EMPORIA -- Seaman tennis stars Grace Unruh and Lauren Sweeney finished their final doubles match together and almost immediately burst into tears.

But it was the happiest of tears, the kind of tears that come with completing a perfect 36-0 season with a Class 5A state doubles championship.

"I think both of us worked so hard for this and we wanted it so bad,'' Unruh said. "It's just a reflection of all the hard work and the hours that we've spent.

"I'll be crying for days.''

Impressive from the get go this season after posting a fourth-place state finish a year ago, Unruh, a senior, and junior Sweeney were even better Saturday on the Emporia High courts and got better as the day went on, capped by a 6-2, 6-1 win over Andover Central's Maya Chon and Bryer Geoffroy in the championship match.

Sweeney said the tears came from pure joy.

"I would say it's a lot of joy,'' Sweeney said. "It's fun, it's joy. It's good, I like the feeling.''

FB3P3DLWYAAeUG9Seaman senior Grace Unruh is congratulated by family and friends and Unruh and doubles partner Lauren Sweeney won the Class 5A doubles championship Saturday at Emporia. [Photo by Rick Peterson]

FB3RNgsXEAElhqDJunior Lauren Sweeney receives a hug from Seaman High principal Dr. Laura Lyons after Sweeney and Grace Unruh won the Class 5A state doubles title. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

The Seaman duo actually started their semifinal match a little slow, falling behind 3-0 in the first set against Andover's Brooke Walker and Anna Jittawait, but Unruh and Sweeney rebounded to take a 6-4 first-set decision and then advanced to the finals with a 6-3 second-set win.

"We got down and we weren't playing with energy and we were kind of making stupid errors but when we started coming back we were like, 'This is it, there's no second chances here.' and I think that was huge motivation,'' Unruh said. "We didn't want to be in that spot we were in last year.''

"We knew what we had to do,'' Sweeney said. "We just had to slowly get going and make smart decisions and that's what we did. We just had to get our energy up. Once we get our energy up, it's huge.''

Unruh and Sweeney also lost the first game of the championship match and led just 3-2 before sweeping the final three games to take the 6-2 win. The Seaman team jumped in front of Chon and Geoffroy 4-0 in the second set and was never seriously threatened.

"This was the goal,'' Unruh said. "I never imagined it being an undefeated state title, but it feels so good. I wouldn't have wanted to end it any other way with any other person on the court with me.''

Sweeney said the only downside to the state tournament was the realization that she'll never play another high school match with Unruh.

"I'm very sad,'' she said. "I literally love her so much, on and off the court. We're best friends and playing with her means so much to me.''

Jamie Robinson, who took over as Seaman's coach this fall, said that he knew early on that Unruh and Sweeney could be state champs.

"Absolutely,'' Robinson said. "They are so disciplined and so driven. They push each other, too.''

Seaman also got an 11th-place finish from junior singles player Nina Del-Zio, who took a 9-2 win over Annabelle Aldrete of Maize South in her final match.

Seaman finished fifth as a team with 22 points while Andover won the team championship with 46 points.

Washburn football knocks off No. 2-ranked Northwest Missouri, 17-16


The Washburn Review

After a walk-off win the week before Washburn football returned to action Saturday at Yager Stadium to face No.2 ranked Northwest Missouri State University in a game between top-five MIAA teams that was both an offensive struggle and defensive battle.

It was the Ichabods who came out on top, with a 17-16 comeback victory late to knock off the undefeated Bearcats and move to 5-2 overall and 4-0 at home on the year.

“I’m really proud of them, the kids stuck together and it is hard, the schedule we have had six games in a row with, those teams are quality teams,” Washburn coach Craig Schurig said of the Ichabods' recent stretch.

The Bearcats dominated possession early, with an 18-play drive in the first quarter that went over 80 yards but resulted in no points after a missed field goal. Offensively, the Ichabods were slow to get started after an injury to senior quarterback Mitch Schurig on the first possession of the game.

KellenSimoncicRedshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Simoncic helped Washburn knock off No. 2-ranked Northwest Missouri after entering the game after senior Mitch Schurig was injured. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

“I’ve been here two years and I felt like I was ready for it,'' said freshman Kellen Simoncic, who replaced Schurig (concussion protocol). "It was a little overwhelming at the start, but Mitch has been such a good leader and example of how to prepare,” 

Midway through the second quarter Simoncic got the offense moving on a 13-play drive, setting up a 36-yard field goal by freshman kicker Trenton Brehm, putting the first points on the board.

MalickFallWashburn senior Malick Fall moves in to sack Northwest Missouri quarterback Mike Hohensee Saturday at Yager Stadium. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

The ensuing drive highlighted the stout defensive effort from Washburn, as senior defensive end Malick Fall picked up his second sack of the half and junior safety Peyton Lane recorded an interception in the end zone to end the drive and half.

After allowing Northwest Missouri into the end zone for the first time midway through the third quarter, the Ichabods responded with a touchdown drive of their own, capped off by a 15-yard catch by senior wide receiver James Letcher Jr. from Simoncic.

A third and goal sack from Fall the following drive would keep the Bearcats out of the end zone and set up another missed field goal early in the fourth quarter.

“I wasn’t thinking of anything crazy, I wasn’t trying to do anything extra, just trying to do my job and things fell my way,” said Fall.

An interception from Simoncic set up Northwest Missouri with good field position which they used to pound the ball into the end zone and take a four-point lead.

However, the Washburn offense remained unfazed and moved down the field to reclaim the lead on a 15-yard touchdown catch and run by sophomore Taylon Peters from Simoncic.

“You just try to take every drive like it’s 0-0 and just start over,'' Simoncic said. "We just tried to stay calm, and when adversity struck I think we took it head on and capitalized when we needed to.''

KevinNealJrjpgWashburn junior Kevin Neal Jr. is congratulated by teammates after sealing the Ichabods' 17-16 win over No. 2-ranked Northwest Missouri with a late interception. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

The Bearcats' desperate attempt to score was cut short by junior defensive back Kevin Neal Jr., who hauled in an interception with eight seconds left to seal the win.''

“Back-to-back weeks our kids figured out a way to come through, and defense played outstanding all game and our offense had just enough,” said Craig Schurig.


NORTHWEST MISSOURI (5-1, 5-1) 0 0 7 9

WASHBURN (5-2, 5-2) 0 3 7 7

Second quarter

Washburn –- Brehm 36 FG, 4:39.

Third quarter

Northwest Missouri -- Davis 4 pass from Hohensee (Lammel kick), 5:08.

Washburn -– Letcher Jr. 15 pass from Simoncic (Brehm kick), 1:16.

Fourth quarter

Northwest Missouri -– McKeller 1 yard rush (Lammel kick), 4:15.

Washburn -- Peters 15 pass from Simoncic (Brehm kick), 0:48.

Northwest Missouri – Simoncic safety, 0:05.

Individual statistics

Rushing -- Northwest Missouri: McKeller 30-166, Green 6-31, Moya 2-14, Tatum 2-0. Washburn: Willis 7-25, Peters 10-17, Williams, 1-4, Letcher Jr. 1-2.

Passing -- Northwest Missouri: Hohensee 22-32-2, 217 yards. Washburn: Simoncic 15-29-1, 157; Schurig 2-3-0, 33.

Receiving -- Northwest Missouri: Tatum 8-59, McKeller 5-58, Donadelle 3-35, Davis 2-24. Washburn: Letcher Jr. 6-59, Williams 5-64, Peters 3-31, Simmons 2-28.

Punting -- Northwest Missouri: Williams 3-119. Washburn: Spiker 4-137.

Tackles -- Northwest Missouri: Smith 4 solo-0 assist-4 total, Strambler 4-0-4, Nimmers 2-2-4, Anderson 2-2-4. Washburn: Barnett-Kruger 6-3-9, Fall 6-3-9, Neal Jr. 3-3-6, Lane 5-1-6.

Attendance – 4,820