Eagles net fifth straight county title
With one consolation match left to finish and the county championship already in the bag, Lanesville senior Smitley quizzed his coach, Brian Book, and his teammates what their fifth consecutive title should be called, offering up ‘five-peat’ and ‘dynasty’ as possibilities.
Having placed representatives in each of the five finals, and winning three, perhaps another alternative is ‘dominating.’
The Eagles have just three matches under their belts this season, making the feat even more impressive.
‘(Athletic Director) Matt Kellems put the pressure on me because he won two county championships when he coached them,’ Book joked. ‘These seniors have had three different coaches over the past four years, so it was nice for them to have helped keep the streak alive. Everybody has stayed with me and hung in there.’
Lanesville racked up 21 points to win the event, with North Harrison second with 15 points, followed by Corydon Central (10) and South Central (4).
Individual champions wearing the purple and white were Seth Jacobs at No. 1, Nathan Bleecker at No. 2 and the No. 2 doubles team of Cody Hussung and Collin McCulloch. Chris Ehalt was runner-up at No. 3 singles while Smitley and Jeffrey Hammond placed second at No. 1 doubles.
Book said Jacobs’ three-set, opening-round win over Corydon Central senior Daniel Cheng set the tone for the match.
Both Jacobs and Cheng proved their mettle time and time again in a battle where neither deserved to lose.
‘That was definitely the best match I’ve seen this year, and probably one of the best I’ve seen in my two years of coaching,’ Book said. ‘I think the rest of the guys fed off that momentum.’
It was obvious from the outset that Cheng’s harmless, celebratory chant of ‘Come on!’ after points scored irritated Jacobs, but the Lanesville senior was still able to grind his way past his opponent in a 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 thriller.
From there, Jacobs defeated North Harrison’s Tyler Schmidt in the championship, 6-1, 6-1.
At No. 2 singles, Bleecker started his day by defeating South’s Wesley Hedden, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), then outlasted Corydon’s Michael Goins in the final, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
The victory was the last points Lanesville needed to secure the championship. A loss by Bleecker would have left the door open for the Cougars to rally.
‘He was in that same situation in a match this week against Henryville and it came down to him winning for us to win and he lost in three sets,’ Book said. ‘I think he learned from that Henryville match. For him to win like he did today was a big turning point for us.’
Eagles duo Hussung and McCulloch won their opener in methodical fashion against South Central’s Michael Decker and Ethan Clem, 6-0, 6-2, before dumping North Harrison’s Kyle and Alan Austin, 6-3, 6-2.
Lanesville’s Chris Ehalt advanced to the final via a South Central forfeit at No. 3 singles, then was bumped by Corydon Central’s Tyler Hoehn in the championship, 6-2, 6-0.
In the final match on the No. 1 doubles courts, North Harrison’s Evin Magner and Anthony Robertson took out Lanesville’s Hammond and Smitley in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
In action throughout the day: Singles ‘ No. 1 ‘ Schmidt advanced to the final via a 6-2, 6-4 effort against Rebel Corey Dennison and Cheng was a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Dennison in the consolation bout; No. 2 ‘ Corydon’s Goins outlasted North’s Brian Kepley in the opening round, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, with Kepley going on to place third thanks to a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Hedden; No. 3 ‘ Hoehn defeated Sean Dury of North Harrison to kick off the day, 6-0, 6-2. Dury was declared the third-place winner thanks to a forfeit at the position by South Central. Doubles ‘ No. 1 ‘ Magner and Robertson downed South Central’s Andrew Sherrard and Ryan Elliss in the semifinal, 6-4, 6-0, with the Rebels’ duo coming back to knock off Key and Burton in a hotly-contested consolation match, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3; No. 2 ‘ After falling to Hussung and McCulloch in the semifinal, South Central’s Decker and Clem split sets with Corydon’s Doug Pope and Adam Bichir, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, for third place; Pope and Bichir fell to North’s Austin pair in the first round, 7-5, 6-1.