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home : sports : sports June 25, 2016

6/5/2014 4:57:00 PM
Gillach and Sullivan's path to state went through teammates

Thomas Gillach and Sheamus Sullivan had visions of the state tournament when they were paired up for sections to make a deep run.

They never imagined that it would involve officially eliminating their teammates from the section competition.

There is no North/South crossover in Section 7AA anymore since Duluth Denfeld and Hibbing are out of the tournament, so it’s a straight seeded section. Gillach and Sullivan came into it as the fourth seed while Joe Turnquist and Blake Lizotte were seeded second.

Both teams won their first round match ups to move to the final four, and on the other side of the bracket stood two Elk River teams. Sullivan and Gillach would play the top-seeded team from ER and Turnquist and Lizotte faced the sixth-seeded Elk pair, who had upset Duluth East’s third seeded tandem.

In both matches, the Elk River team advanced, leaving the Wildcats reeling and having to face each other with a potential for a true second match.

But, Lizotte and Turnquist knew that Elk River’s top seeded team was head and shoulders above everyone else on the court that day. Expecting the top-seeded ER team to win, a win for Lizotte and Turnquist would’ve meant both Chisago Lakes teams were on the outside looking in while the two Elk River teams went to state.

So, the two Chisago Lakes’ teams took the court, but Sullivan and Gillach made quick work of Turnquist and Lizotte, winning in two sets, setting those two up with a match against the sixth-seeded Elk River team. “I told the guys to do what they see fit and that I wasn’t going to coach either team,” Head Coach Corey McKinnon said of the difficult situation. “I just watched the match and let it play out, but I think Blake and Joe were emotionally drained from their three-set match with the Elk River pair earlier.”

The win sent Gillach and Sullivan into a true second match against the sixth-seeded Elk River team that had beaten Turnquist and Lizotte. The senior and freshman tandem earned some redemption for their eliminated teammates though, topping the Elk River team 6-2, 6-2 and earning themselves a trip to state. “The guys just flipped a switch and couldnt miss shots,” McKinnon said. “They smoked them, and they were done in about 45 minutes.”

McKinnon said after Gillach and Sullivan won, both of their eyes lit up in excitement and they were instantly surrounded by none other than Turnquist and Lizotte, who had watched the match, celebrating with them. “I can’t speak highly enough of Joe Turnquist,” McKinnon said. “To go from the disappointment of the last match of his high school career to then getting legitimately excited for Sheamus and Tom was awesome.”

The CL pair of Gillach and Sullivan will open their state tournament run on Thursday, June 5 at the Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota at 
10 a.m. Their opponents are Anthony Rose, a sophomore, and Carter Mason, a freshman, from Eden Prairie.

“I just told the guys that everyone is good at state but so are they. They earned their right to be there and deserve a spot,” McKinnon said. “I’m excited to see what they can do at state. They’re so synergistic and positive. They just aren’t afraid to let it all out. With Sheamus being a senior, they are just no-nonsense and they get after it.”

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