Mikayla Wing was confident.
And why shouldn’t she have been?
The Staples-Motley Cardinals junior was the defending Mid-State Conference champion at No. 1 singles. She had already beaten everyone in her bracket. Plus, her game has seen improvement.
So, on Sept. 15, when Wing and the rest of the Cardinals traveled to Park Rapids for this year’s Mid-State Conference tournament, Wing was ready.
After a first-round bye because she was seeded No.1, Wing eliminated Julia Smith of Park Rapids 6-2, 6-3, and in the championship, knocked off Haley Wiebolt of Pequot Lakes 6-2, 6-3.
“It wasn’t easy for her,” said Cardinals head coach Kayla Huether. “Both those girls can get a lot of balls back. They were longer points, but she stayed patient and was able to pull out the wins.”
The conference crown improved Wing’s season record to 12-3. Her championship, along with singles titles from teammates Grace Wolhowe, Emily Israelson and Sarah Koopmann, and a No. 3 doubles title from Nikki Edin-Linsey Johnson, led S-M to the tournament championship.
“Our (team) goal is to make it to state and do better than we did last year,” said Wing. “We only lasted the first day last year and we want to make it past the first round this year.”
Wing’s personal goal is to make it to the individual state tournament. She lost in the section tournament last season.
“I played in some summer tournaments, both in singles and doubles,” said Wing. “I prefer singles. I’m a better singles player than I am at doubles.
“I’m working on becoming more patient. I’m just hitting a lot of balls in practice and being patient.”
Huether also has worked with Wing to slow her first serve down for improved consistency. The first-year coach described her top singles player as a power hitter with a competitive edge.
“She never gives up,” said Huether. “She gives it her all even when she is down. She is easy to coach. She listens to us and in tennis it’s all about patience and waiting to set up the points and then being able to finish the points. She’s been doing that very well.”
Other notable performances:
Swimming: Jaelin Beachy, Staples-Motley, won the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke and helped the Cardinals 200 freestyle to first against Rocori. Beachy also won both those races at the Park Rapids Invite.
Jenessa Iverson, Staples-Motley, won the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke and helped the Cardinals 400 freestyle relay to first against Rocori.
Tennis: Grace Wolhowe, Staples-Motley, finished the week 3-0 and won the No. 2 singles title in the Mid-State Conference tournament.
Emily Israelson, Staples-Motley, finished the week 3-0 and won the No. 3 singles title in the Mid-State conference tournament.
Sarah Koopmann, Staples-Motley, won the No. 4 singles title at the Mid-State Conference tournament.
Linsey Johnson-Nikki Edin, Staples-Motley, finished the week 3-0 and won the No. 3 doubles title at the Mid-State Conference tournament.
Elle Erholtz-Lauren Bengtson, Pequot Lakes, won the No. 2 doubles title at the Mid-State Conference tournament.
Volleyball: Abby Palmer, Pequot Lakes, finished with 18 digs, 17 kills and two ace serves against Perham. Palmer added 13 kills and 12 digs against Wadena-Deer Creek and 31 kills, 13 digs, seven ace serves and five blocks at the C-I tournament.
Kelly Pearson, Staples-Motley, finished with 35 digs, 18 kills and one ace serve against Pillager and 26 digs, 19 kills and two ace serves against Crosby-Ironton.
Heather Theisen, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 36 set assists and 15 digs against Pequot Lakes.
Hallie Schmidt, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 12 digs, 10 kills and five ace serves against Staples-Motley. She added 21 kills, 19 digs, 13 ace serves at the C-I tournament.
Bailey Swensen, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 30 set assists, 18 digs, three ace serves and three kills against Staples-Motley