Defending champs bridge the gap
Six returning letterwinners help rookie head coach Tyler Philipsen off-set the loss of Aaron Chalstrom to graduation at St. Edmond this season.
Philipsen is technically in his first season with the St. Edmond boys, but he is not a new face to SEHS tennis, having directed the girls program previously.
Chalstrom, who is currently on the Creighton University tennis team, captured a Class 1A state singles title and helped lead the Gaels to gold at team state. Chalstrom had previously placed second three straight years in the individual state field.
Returning to lead the way will be state qualifiers Konrad Laufersweiler, Jimmy Averill, John Eide and Zach Gailey. Eide, a junior, suffered a broken hand recently and will be out for the foreseeable future.
“We are coming off a great year and return four state qualifiers,” said Philipsen, who replaces Jacob Short. “John will be in a cast for 4-6 weeks, having broken his dominant hand.”
Laufersweiler and Averill claimed a district doubles title last year, going 1-2 at state. The tandem of Eide and Gailey went 0-2 after advancing as runner-ups.
“We should be competitive with our returning letterwinners,” Philipsen said. “We have some tough meets to start the year, playing at the West Des Moines Valley Invitational and teams like Spencer and Fort Dodge.”
Laufersweiler was a starter on both the runner-up state football team and basketball squad that advanced to a substate final this past winter. Averill and Gailey were also starters on the football squad, providing plenty of state experience off the courts.
Senior Patrick Hancock is also a returning letterwinner, and will be joined fellow classmates Jacob Meyer, John-Michael Li and Jon Itzen in battles for varsity spots.
Philipsen also has two freshmen on the roster in Patrick Hancock and Trent Woodhouse.
Two years ago, the Gaels placed second at team state.
St. Edmond opens the year in West Des Moines at the Valley Invitational this Saturday. They play intra-city rival Fort Dodge on Tuesday.