by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Top-ranked Elk River was bumped from the unbeaten ranks Saturday, losing a showdown with No. 4 Mounds View 4-3 during a four-team event at home.
The Elks (14-1) beat Forest Lake 6-1 and Burnsville 5-2 in the other matches.
“It was devastating to lose when you are that close to winning,” said Elk coach Randy Ronning, “but we enjoyed the intensity of the match and feel it will help us be more clutch in the playoffs.”
The pivotal match was No. 1 doubles. The Elks teamed one of their singles aces, Sam Gearou, with Logann Burns, but could not close the deal against Mustang seniors Griff Anderson-Austin Wiegert.
The Elk duo rallied to win the first set 7-5. They were serving with a 5-4 lead in the second set but the Mustangs rallied to force a tiebreaker. The Elks led the tiebreaker 5-2 but lost it 7-5. The third set was a 10-point tiebreaker, and the Mustangs pulled it out 10-8. That was the Mustangs fourth, and clinching, point.
Ronning stationed doubles players at 2-3-4 singles, all of whom lost, and was hoping for a doubles sweep, which almost happened. Josh Gearou won easily at 1-singles. Nathan Chanthamontry and Noah Steichen won a third-set 10-8 at No. 2, and Jordan Haack and Tyler Creelman won at No. 3.
“We found out we are about dead even in skills,” said Ronning. “They won 64 games and we won 64 games. It literally came down to winning a singles point more and we might have been able to win.”
Mounds View’s lone loss was against Maple Grove 4-3. The Crimson, of course, are a conference rival of the Elks. The Mustangs beat perennial power Edina 6-1. At the Elk tournament, they edged Burnsville 4-3.
The Elks were able to bounce back with a satisfying 5-2 win over Burnsville, which, last year, handed the Elks their lone regular-season loss 4-3. A key match was Sam Gearou beating Tom McCallie 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2. Gearou lost a close match to him last year.
The marquee match of the day was Forest Lake’s No. 2 ranked Toby Boyer facing the Elks’ No. 3 ranked Josh Gearou. Boyer won 6-3, 6-1, handing Gearou his first loss. The Elks won the other six points.
“We came so close to winning all three matches today, and these are very good teams,” assessed Ronning. “I was impressed to see them rebound so nicely after the heartbreaking loss. Very proud of not only how they played, but also by how they acted, with such dignity and class.”
The Elks will host Champlin Park on Tuesday.
Elk River 6, Forest Lake 1
(1) Toby Boyer, FL, def Josh Gearou 6-3, 6-1
(2) Sam Gearou, ER, def Sam Hamilton 6-0, 6-1
(3) Nathan Chanthamontry, ER, def Brandon Babcock 6-1, 6-0
(4) Zeke Delain, ER, def Noah Alm 6-1, 6-4
(1) Logann Burns-Noah Steichen, ER, def Hunter Shortly-Sam Bostrom 6-2, 6-2
(2) Tyler Creelman-Joe Wetherille, ER, def Ben Nielson-Andrew Kezar 6-1, 6-2
(3) Jordan Haack-Nick Tran, ER, def Cole Emily-Parker Campobasso 6-0, 6-1
Mounds View 4, Elk River 3
(1) Josh Gearou, ER, def CJ Lloyd 6-0, 6-0
(2) Jake Trondson, MV, def Joe Wetherille 6-3, 6-4
(3) Hunter Krebsbach, MV, def Zeke Delain 6-2, 6-2
(4) Abe Alex, MV, def Nick Tran 6-0, 6-2
(1) Griff Anderson-Austin Wiegert, MV, def Sam Gearou-Logann Burns 7-5, 6-7, 7-10
(2) Nathan Chanthamontry-Noah Steichen, ER, def Henry Morris-Petro Alex 5-7, 6-1, 10-8
(3) Jordan Haack-Tyler Creelman, ER, def Andrew Tang-Abraham Cluen 6-3, 6-2
Elk River 5, Burnsville 2
(1) Josh Gearou, ER, def Paul McCallie 6-1, 6-0
(2) Sam Gearou, ER, def Tom McCallie 6-2, 6-3
(3) Nathan Chanthamontry, ER, def Floyd Penners 5-7, 2-6
(4) Jordan Haack, ER, def Luke Haddorff 6-1, 6-1
(1) Ben Davidson-Luke Krogstad, Brns, def Logann Burns-Noah Steichen 5-7, 2-6
(2) Tyler Creelman-Zeke Delain, ER, def Alex Mason-Vinnie Dimmen 6-2, 6-0.
(3) Joe Wetherille-Tanner Hermanson, ER, def Tommy Rambeck-Brett Shepley, 6-0, 6-1