by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Six days after pulling off a big upset, the Elk River Elks were an upset victim themselves as their string of seven straight trips to state ended.
The Elks lost to Duluth East 4-3 on Monday in the Section 7AA finals at Arrowhead Fitness and Tennis Center in Duluth.
“We fought hard, but that’s how it goes,” said Elk coach Leroyce Chapman. “Both teams played really well, but they (Duluth East) won the big points.”
The Elks beat Duluth East 4-3 on Sept. 7 so they were only a slight favorite in the finals in that respect, but the Elks were also coming off a 4-3 upset of Forest Lake in sub-section last Tuesday. Forest Lake was 23-0 and had beaten the Elks (twice) and Duluth East in the regular season.
“Both teams were definitely at their peak at this point of the season,” said Chapman.
The Elks, who beat Grand Rapids-Greenway 5-2 in the semifinals on Saturday, finished 17-6 and without a state berth for the first time since 2005.
Meanwhile, Duluth East (20-4) makes its first trip to state since 1995.
“I’m sure we’ve broken their hearts a few times, too, over the years,” said Terry Gryzbowski, longtime Elk assistant coach.
The Elks won at 1-2-3 singles with Meagan Brown, Annika Teske and Jen Koehler prevailing.
The Greyhounds, who used a stronger doubles lineup than the last time they faced the Elks, swept the ‘dubs’ and won 4-singles.
“It was tough for the girls to lose,” said Chapman, “but they were proud to make it this far, and they left their hearts out on the courts. Some skin, too!”
She referred to Emma Hannegraf and Dani Dokken each diving on the courts during their doubles matches.
Brown advances in singles
Brown, the Elks lone entrant in individuals competition, beat Duluth East’s No. 2 player in section singles competition later Monday. She faces Andover’s Destiny Lee in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Duluth East 4, Elk River 3
(1) Meagan Brown, ER, def Elise Heyer 6-1, 2-6, 6-3
(2) Annika Teske, ER, def Maya Callaway 6-3, 6-0
(3) Jen Koehler, ER, def Brynne Hauer 6-3, 6-3
(4) Gates LeSavage, DE, def Lauren Brayden 6-2, 6-1
(1) Annagrace Norr-Kendra Berry, DE, def Becca O’Connell-Hadley Purdy 6-3, 6-3
(2) Josie Humphreys-Daria Deible, DE, def Erin Reiner-Emma Hannegraaf 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
(3) Hannah Koch-Maeve Maron, DE, def Brooke Burns-Dani Dokken 6-0, 6-2