Chalstrom the champ

WATERLOO – This time, Aaron Chalstrom wasn’t about to be denied in his pursuit of gold.

Making his fourth straight Class 1A state singles finals appearance, St. Edmond’s senior tennis star answered the call with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 championship victory over Waterloo Columbus’ Alex Bernt Saturday at Byrnes Park.

After dropping the first set, the top-seeded Chalstrom trailed Bernt by scores of 4-1 and 5-4 in the second before eventually rallying back against the No. 2 seed.

“I got down 4-1 and just kind of told myself, ‘how would it feel to look back 20 years from now if I didn’t at least make it close,” said Chalstrom, who settled for silver here the previous three years. “I finally got it done, but I have no regrets from the other three years. I always gave it everything I had.”

In the semifinals, Chalstrom earned a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 triumph over Red Oak’s fourth-seeded Pete Walker. Bernt was a state bronze medalist last spring, while Walker placed fourth.

“It didn’t start off very well, but mental toughness is Aaron’s strength and that’s something you just can’t coach or teach,” SEHS head coach Jacob Short said. “I think the semifinals helped him focus a little more – not that he wasn’t – but he had to go to another level. After he fought off that championship point (against Bernt), he looked at me and said, ‘there’s no way I’m losing’. He made quick work then in the third set. (Winning a state title) was a very cool moment for him and his family.”

Chalstrom closed out the season with a perfect 14-0 record. All six of his career losses came against state champions.