Special to The Hays Daily News
LAWRENCE — The Thomas More Prep-Marian chess team notched a second consecutive state championship at the Kansas Scholastic Chess Association tournament Saturday at the Kansas Union on the campus of the University of Kansas.
The team total of 17 points was enough to send the Monarchs to the top of the 3A division, where they were followed by perennial power Erie (16 points) and Cherryvale (15.5 points). The 3A competition was tough as only two schools, 6A Lawrence High School and 6A Blue Valley Northwest, finish ahead of the 3A trio.
The varsity was paced by senior Patrick Kepka, whose 5 points put him in a 14-way tie for individual first-place honors. The tiebreak system assigned him to the 14th spot in the group.
A total of 171 competitors, one of the largest turnouts ever, competed in the high school section of the tournament. Kepka’s five points were supplemented by four-point performances from fellow senior Justyce Briney and freshmen Paul Brull and Sheldon Weber. Sophomores Jason Kepka (3.5 points), Ian Lenser (3 points) and Ethan Rohr (3 points), as well as freshman Nicholas Zimmerman (3 points) also participated in the tournament.
The Monarch junior high, competing against 27 other middle schools of all sizes, finished in a tie for third with 16 points behind Lawrence West Middle School (17.5 points), and Concordia Junior High (16.5 points). St. Mary’s Academy of also finished with 16 points, and was awarded the third-place trophy on the basis of the tiebreak system.
Eighth-grader Sheena Zeng led the junior high Monarchs, but was limited to five points on account of a last round loss to the eventual tournament winner. Her five-point finish left her fourth in a field of 180 competitors. Zeng’s performance was supported by seventh-graders Seth Perrett (4 points, 36th place), Japheth Briney (4 points, 50th place), and Hunter Flax (3 points, 85th place). Seventh-grader Ben Pfannenstiel also competed and finished the tournament with 3 points.
The Monarch varsity team competed at nine tournaments throughout the season, finishing first in six, second in two and third at one. The junior high team compiled a record of four first-place finishes, a second-place finish, a trio of thirds and the fourth place at state. Competition will resume in the fall as the TMP teams are set to host and compete Oct. 8.
The Holy Family Elementary chess team placed fourth in the K-5 division.