Marauders close season with loss to Delta

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FORTVILLE — It’s not every day that two tennis teams face off for a key conference clash three weeks after one team was eliminated from the state tournament and a week after the state championship was decided.

That’s what happened at Mt. Vernon on Wednesday, as the Marauders and Delta Eagles had a make-up match for one that was rained out the week of sectional play.

The Marauders were eliminated in the sectional finals Sept. 28. The Eagles were eliminated Oct. 6 in the semistate round, one of the final 16 teams in the tournament.

With a share of the Hoosier Heritage Conference title on the line Wednesday — the reason the match was made up — the Eagles picked up where they left off in the regular season, soundly defeating the hosts 5-0 and taking the title for themselves.

That result means New Palestine finishes second in the HHC, while Mt. Vernon finishes third.

“The one thing I talked to (Delta) coach Tim Cleland about was making this kind of good fellowship,” Mt. Vernon coach Gabe Muterspaugh said. “You still want to compete, you still want to have that battle, but at the end of the day, it’s a unique situation that a lot of kids never get to have happen, playing after the season. Embrace it, have fun with it. I thought our guys did a really nice job for being off two weeks for break, coming back two days of practice, and competing against the No. 6 team in the state.”

While the Marauders lost in straight sets at all five positions, Muterspaugh was happy with the fight his team showed.

At two different positions, the Marauders saw their undefeated seasons come to an end at the hands of Delta. One of those was senior Sam McCarty.

The other was the No. 1 junior varsity doubles duo of Justin Lemke and Dallas Turner.

Their loss is something that Mt. Vernon’s coach sees as a good motivator heading into next season.

“I saw some great things,” Muterspaugh said. “Chris Hays, going to be a junior next year, we look for him to come in and he’s hopefully going to be battling for a No. 1 singles spot. We’ve got Justin and Dallas. They were undefeated this year, and they ran into a buzzsaw tonight. They’re not happy. We want that as motivation.”

Led by a slew of seniors — J.D. Cohee, McCarty, Peyton Meadors, Brayden Browning, Sam Frye — the Marauders had arguably their best season in several decades.

The loss to Delta isn’t something they will hang their heads about.

“It’s the best season we have had in 40 years of Mt. Vernon boys tennis, with 16 wins,” Muterspaugh said. “We didn’t get the end goal of being conference champion — we’ll finish third. We didn’t win the sectional — we finished second. But we have a lot of things to be proud of this year.

"It was a beautiful season.”