DES MOINES - The St. Edmond boys tennis team capped off a memorable 2013 season by claiming the Class 1A state team title Tuesday.
The top-seeded Gaels topped No. 3 seed Dubuque Wahlert in the finals, 5-2. That followed a 5-0 victory over Red Oak in the semifinal round.
Over the weekend, senior Aaron Chalstrom made his fourth 1A singles championship match. This time, though, he pulled out the win, securing state individual gold with a three-set win over Alex Bernt of Waterloo Columbus.
"Aaron is the reason we won this team title," SEHS head coach Jacob Short said. "He is every coaches dream because he doesn't need to be motivated; he motivates himself and he motivated everybody else on the team.
"Aaron really wanted this team title bad and he pushed everybody in the offseason to get better. You really couldn't ask for anymore from a player."
Chalstrom scored a second straight victory over state semifinalist Pete Walker from Red Oak earlier in the day.
"While we won (5-0), the matches with Red Oak were very tight, including Aaron's vs. Pete Walker," Short said. "Aaron actually lost the first set, but like at (individual state), that seemed to re-focus him and he played much better.
"We were really pushed (vs. Red Oak), but the kids responded and showed incredible mental toughness."
Chalstrom took out another individual state qualifier in the finals, defeating Brandon Schneider. He previously bested Schneider in the second round last Friday.
As the lone senior on the varsity roster, Chalstrom will leave a huge hole. But, Short knows that John Eide, Konrad Laufersweiler, Ben Albright, Jimmy Averill, Pat Hancock and Zach Gailey will all be ready to step into new roles.
"What a special and perfect way for Aaron to go out," he said. "But these kids have seen his determination over the past two years to get better and I know that will fuel them next March.
"We are going to begin that first day of practice with the goal of repeating as state champions."
Last year, with the same top-six, St. Edmond placed second at team state, falling to Davenport Assumption, 5-3. The Gaels also finished third in 2009 and second in 1986.
In 2A, Iowa City West claimed the title with a 5-3 victory over Cedar Falls.