KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic finished a quarter of a point behind Mount Michael Benedictine for a top-five finish at the Class B boys state tennis meet last year.
It marked their second consecutive sixth-place finish, and although the Stars have had success the last two years, the expectations won’t be as high this season. The Stars return just two state qualifiers and will have a team consisting of nine freshmen on their 21-player roster.
Senior Brandt Groskreutz, who’s qualified for state his first three years, and junior Blake Thiele are returning state qualifiers for the Stars this season.
The Stars will have to replace four varsity players. No. 1 singles player Joe Poland, No. 2 singles player Landon Seibert, Connor Conrad, who played No. 1 doubles with Groskreutz, and Nathan Obrecht, who played with Thiele at No. 2 doubles, all graduated from last year’s team.
Conrad and Groskreutz registered the highest finish at the state tournament for the Stars last season, earning a fourth-place result. Poland placed fifth and Seibert finished eighth. Thiele and Obrecht won one match at state last year.
“We are a very young team. However, I think these guys are going to push themselves to get better,” second-year head coach Stephen Friesell said. “Last year, we had a lot of experience so the expectations were high. This year, we won’t have a big target on our backs. But, I think we will surprise some teams with our drive and passion.”
The Stars will begin the season with a dual at Grand Island Central Catholic at 4 p.m. Aug. 29. They will compete in the Kearney High Quadrangular on Aug. 30 and will host their first home event Sept. 16 against GICC and McCook.