TOPEKA, Kan—It took them three years, but Gabrielle Briggs and MacKenzie Morris finally won state. They won over Kapaun Mt. Carmel's Carmen Mindt and Elizabeth Pringle in three sets, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
"It's kind of surreal," Briggs said. "We've been dreaming of this moment for the past three years."
Last year Briggs and Morris lost to Kapaun in the semifinals and the memory was still with them on Sunday.
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"It's just hard because you have to go back and win a third and fourth place match and you play right next to the championship and it stinks being in the situation and having to see that," Morris said.
This year the Mustangs came out quickly in the first set, winning 6-2. However, the Crusaders answered in the following set. Kapaun then went out to a 4-0 lead in the final set, but Morris and Briggs stayed tough.
"We always say one by one, take it one at a time and that's literally what we had to do at the end of our careers together," Briggs said. "At this point in time, when you get to state finals, it's a mental game."
This year, the Mustangs won that mental game.
"Coming back from 0-4 was seriously the best feeling ever," Morris said. "It wasn't just handed to us, we had to fight for this."
It was Briggs' last season playing for Salina Central and she made it a memorable one.
"Only a handful of people can say they were undefeated and state champs their senior year," Briggs said. "That's one thing nobody can ever take away from me. In this partnership, I've gained so much from being partners with her."
On the singles side, St. Thomas Aquinas' Lauren Huddlestun beat Bishop Carroll's Courtney Lubbers in two sets.
"It feels so good," Huddlestun said. "All the support and everything has been so good. I can't even describe how it feels.”
Huddlestun was still recovering from her semifinal match against Emporia's Ashley DeBauge, who she beat in three sets, and also her quarterfinal match against Kapaun's Allie Schulte that also went three sets.
"It was pretty difficult," Huddlestun said. "I was running on barely anything there. So just to know that I finished and I don't have to do much more is really good."
After being disqualified last year during her junior year, Huddlestun knew that even though it was tough, she had to grind it out to meet her goals.
"This tournament all I wanted to do was win state," she said. "Everytime I got down I just told myself you have to win or else I'm not going to get there and that's basically what got me through all the matches."
Bishop Carroll took first place overall, followed by Kapaun and Arkansas City. For the Golden Eagles, it is the second ever championship for the girls team, the first coming in 1978. Making it even sweeter is keeping archrival Kapaun Mt. Carmel from repeating as champ.