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Johnson BRC champ at No. 1 singles

Hudson senior Julia Johnson, left, and Raider coach Dave Dahl are all smiles after Johnson won the Big Rivers Conference championship at No. 1 singles at the BRC Tournament Saturday in Eau Claire. Submitted photo

Julia Johnson won the conference title at No. 1 singles and Nicole Buechler, Morgan Karras and Morgan Van Allen all finished second in their respective flights to lead the Raider girls' tennis team to a second place finish at the Big Rivers Conference Championship Tournament Saturday at Eau Claire North.

Johnson defeated Eau Claire Memorial's Kaitlyn Israel 7-6, 6-3, in the title match at No. 1 singles to earn the conference championship.

"We've had some pretty solid teams here over the years, but I've never had a conference champion at No. 1 singles," Raider coach Dave Dahl said. "To be the best player in the conference is quite an accomplishment. Julia has had a remarkable year and now sets her sights on a return trip to Madison."

The road to Madison begins Monday, Oct. 5, at the WIAA Subsectional Tournament in Menomonie. Sectional play will take place two days later in Marshfield with the WIAA State Individual Tennis Tournament set for Oct. 15-17 at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.

Johnson's title helped the Raiders finish with 26 points at Saturday's BRC Tournament, seven points behind the first-place Old Abes. Eau Claire North finished third with 23 followed by Menomonie with 19, River Falls with 14, Chippewa Falls with 10 and Rice Lake with 1.

Hudson also finished second to Memorial in the final overall standings.

Hudson was the only team at the tournament to have all four singles players reach the finals. Johnson, Buechler at No. 2 singles, and Karras at No. 3, all earned byes in the opening round.

Buechler advanced to the finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Chippewa Falls in the semifinals before losing to Sydney Wolfe of Eau Claire Memorial, 5-7, 3-6, while Karras defeated her Eau Claire North opponent, 6-3, 6-0 before falling to Menomonie's Christina Wollan in the title match, 4-6, 7-5, 1-6.

Van Allen won 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round and 6-0, 6-2 in the semifinals before losing to Beth Richmond of Eau Claire Memorial, 3-6, 1-6 in the finals at No. 4 singles.

Johnson earned first team All-BRC honors for her title at No. 1 singles while Buechler, Karras and Van Allen made the All-BRC second team.

"To make the championship match at all the singles flights is a great team showing," Dahl said. "I was very proud of every one of them today."

All three Raider doubles teams went 2-1 on the day, with third place finishes going to Hanna Naegeli and Whitney Theisen at No. 2 doubles, and Kelsey Scharfenberg and Lauren Duffy at No. 3. Both teams won their first match and lost their second before winning their third place matches.

Alise Riedel and Casey Fall dropped their opening match at No. 1 doubles, but bounced back with two straight victories to finish fifth.

"For all our doubles teams to pick up two wins today was crucial in our final team result," Dahl said. "We picked up more points in doubles than our seeds suggested we might.

"Second place as a team left us a bit short of our goal, but it was nice to put North and Menomonie behind us," Dahl added.

The Raiders finished the regular season with a dual record of 18-6.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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