Aspen’s Mehall fourth at state | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s Mehall fourth at state

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Aspen's Bryan Mehall hits a return to Kellen Kaltenbacher, of Air Academy, during their first-round No. 1 singles match on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, at the 4A Colorado Boys Tennis championships at City Park in Pueblo, Colo. (AP Photo/Pueblo Chieftain, Chris McLean)

PUEBLO, Colo. – Aspen’s Bryan Mehall followed up his No. 1 singles crown at last week’s regionals with an impressive showing at the 4A Colorado Boys Tennis Championships in Pueblo.

The senior picked up two wins and earned a semifinal berth during the tournament, which ran from Thursday through Saturday at City Park. He wound up finishing fourth, a result that helped the Skiers finish eighth overall – one spot ahead of Western Slope rival Steamboat Springs – with 11 points.

Cheyenne Mountain (85) captured the team title, while Niwot (67) and Kent Denver (59) rounded out the top three.

Mehall dispatched Air Academy’s Kellen Kaltenbacher, 6-4, 6-3, in his first match, then dropped just two games in a dominant quarterfinal effort against Rocky Mountain High’s Luke Lorenz.

Things got tougher from there, however, as Mehall squared off with defending state champion Harrison Lang of Niwot in the semifinals. Mehall was up to the challenge, but he wound up falling 6-4, 7-5.

He went on to drop Saturday’s third-place match to Cheyenne Mountain’s Stephen Moore, 6-4, 6-4.

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The Skiers’ other state representatives lost their opening matches. Steve Anderson and Kalen Gabow fell to eventual state champions Canyon Barry and Vincent Chow of Cheyenne Mountain, 6-4, 6-0, at No. 2 doubles, while Brett Gordon and Dylan Behr came up short against Niwot’s Matt Londa and Connor Mulshine, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 3 doubles.

The Longhorns missed out on a fourth consecutive league title after last week’s doubleheader sweep at the hands of Gunnison.

Saturday, their bid for a state tournament berth came up agonizingly short. Basalt nearly erased a five-run deficit in its 3A District 5 tournament game against Rifle, but wound up stranding the tying run at second base in the bottom of the seventh in an 8-7 defeat.

“We just didn’t have it today at the end,” Longhorns assistant coach Peter King admitted. “The girls gave it a great effort.”

Basalt (13-6) secured second place in Region 3 with Monday’s 5-3 home win over the Bears. Rifle returned the favor with a quick start Saturday in Gunnison.

The Bears loaded the bases courtesy of a few errors and two walks in a second inning in which they plated five runs. They tacked on three more in the fourth courtesy of two singles, another walk and a double.

Shelley Briscoe’s two-run double helped trim the deficit in the second, then Jordan DeCrow added a RBI double in the third inning. The freshman drove in another run with a single in Basalt’s two-run fifth.

Maddie Nieslanik’s single in the sixth plated Briscoe and Katie King, cutting Rifle’s lead to one.

Bailey Strobel reached on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh, then stole second base. She was stranded, however, after the Bears induced a groundout back to the mound to end the game – and secure the district’s second and final playoff berth.

“We had two seniors and a junior on the field with six sophomores and freshmen. We have real good potential,” Peter King said. “If the girls keep at it and keep working hard, we’ll be right back up there.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com