Wegner estimated himself at around 90% on Friday night, but it was time for him to get back on the line-up as one of the leaders of that team. With the way things are going for the Cardinals, he didn’t want to waste any more time.
“I’m much better. I was very excited to come back, ”said Wegner after beating St. Cloud 7-0. Apollo-Sauk Rapids-Rice brought Alexandria to 10-0 on Friday. “The team played really well. I was traveling like a whole week so I was excited to come back. “
Alexandria senior Andrew Wegner will make a big return in his second doubles against St. Cloud Apollo-Sauk Rapids-Rice on April 30, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
Win after win, these players feel this could be another special season. The Cardinals messed up their line-up and put the boys in different positions against Apollo, knowing that a team win was anything but natural.
St. Cloud only has eight players and couldn’t keep up with Alexandria playing every game in straight sets. Gannon Lück, Aaron Jost, Pieter Mulder and Brennan Parker won the singles.
Senior Jacob Partington and freshman Owen Gilbertson teamed up to play first doubles for the Cardinals, and Wegner won the second doubles with Dylan Nelson. Brennen Lattimer and Cole Haabala lost in the third double.
“Two years ago, when we went to the state, it was a big deal,” said Wegner. “I think this year we’ll prove that we can do it again. That we can be this team. “
Alexandrias Gannon Lueck attacks the net to get a first shot against St. Cloud Apollo-Sauk Rapids-Rice on April 30, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
That is the goal of this group. The Apollo win ended in a 4-0 week that included wins against Moorhead, Bemidji and Brainerd – all Section 8AA teams.
“We have proven that we are at the top with everyone else,” said Partington. “We can keep up with everyone. We may not be the most talented of them all, but we work really hard. We get all the balls we can and that is what sets us apart from the other teams. “
The Cardinals beat the Lumberjacks 4-3 due to Haabala winning a third set in the fourth singles. It is the third 4-3 win against a good team this spring after defeating Monticello and St. Cloud Tech. Brainerd is another Section 8AA contender who the Cardinals defeated with a 5-2 final after close singles matches.
– Senior Jacob Partington on the idea of returning to a state tournament.
“If you look around, a lot of our players are multi-athletes,” said Partington. “We’re used to this pressure. I think that really matters. We stay calm and build each other up. You can hear us during the games, we talk in all seats. That helps too. We have a lot of seniors with some experience and we used that to our advantage. “
Partington, Lueck, Wegner and Mulder all have experience in major games, having joined the state tournament team in 2019. They were expected to be the leaders of this group, but Alexandria would need a lot of different players to level up if it were going to produce another big season. So far, so good on this front.
“It feels really good because we have a lot of seniors carrying us,” Gilbertson said. “We got a lot of good advice from these high school students. Having them around really helped us improve our game. “
Alexandrias Owen Gilbertson (left) and Jacob Partington chat about strategy between sets on April 30, 2021 during their first double win. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
Gilbertson teamed up with Partington on Friday’s first doubles and looked like he belonged there. It’s hard to know he’s a newbie because he’s aggressively putting down shots. He is part of a core that this year wants to help and develop an Alexandria program that hopes to be consistent competitors in the section.
“We saw that it was possible,” said Gilbertson. “Getting that advice from our seniors and then taking it into the next year will be tremendous for us.”
First things first: this year’s team still has a lot to do.
“We are very happy about the potential. We know we can do it, but we’re still trying to keep our heads straight and not get too excited, ”said Wegner. “We still have half of our season ahead of us.”
Brennan Parker rushes on the net to get a shot at the fourth singles on April 30, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
Alexandria has rematches with St. Cloud Tech (May 11) en route before the home of Bemidji (May 13) and Brainerd (May 18). The Cardinals must prove they can beat these teams a second time before going into the postseason where they have to do it again.
The 2019 guys remember exactly how exciting it was to win postseason games in such a dramatic way as to host a state tournament for the first time in programming history.
There is still much to be done, but this group is developing the same kind of camaraderie that led the Cardinals to this success two years ago.
“We know we can do it. That’s the thing, ”said Partington. “Since we’ve been there before, our expectations are very high. Honestly, just thinking about it gives me goose bumps … We have the same culture here this year, if not better. We’re all just super excited for each other. Half the time, you don’t even care as much about your match as you care about your buddy down the line. That’s great. We have this team-first mentality and that’s incredible this year. ”
ALEXANDRIA 7, ST. CLOUD APOLLO 0
SINGLES – No. 1 – Gannon Lueck (A) def. Zach Stang, 6-1 6-0; No. 2 – Aaron Jost (A) def. Tiernan Atteberry, 6-1, 6-0; No. 3 – Pieter Mulder (A) def. Cole Sowada, 6-2, 6-0; No. 4 – Brennan Parker (A) def. Braedyn Leeb, 6-2, 6-3
DOUBLE – No. 1 – Jacob Partington / Owen Gilbertson (A) def. AJ Stang / Galaan Omar, 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 – Andrew Wegner / Dylan Nelson (A) def. Kody Duffy / Kain Swenson, 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 – Burning Lattimer / Cole Haabala (A) won by loss