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Chrisman seniors relish becoming first to get to state

By Bill Althaus
Tori Gant
Kiara Ashurst

Independence High School was founded in 1888 and counts President Harry Truman and first lady Bess Truman among its graduates.

In 1917 the Independence School District passed a levy bond to build a new building, and William Chrisman High School – named after the father of Margaret Chrisman Swope, who sold the district the land for $1 – was opened in 1918.

It really doesn’t matter which date you use as the opening for the school, when someone from Chrisman enjoys a first, it’s big news. And that’s exactly what Tori Gant and Kiara Ashurst did at the Class 2 District 8 girls tennis tournament, where they finished in second place in doubles and became the first Bears to ever advance to the state tennis tournament, which gets underway Oct. 15 in Springfield.

After an opening bye, Gant and Ashurst beat doubles teams from Kearney (6-1, 6-4) and Platte County (6-3, 7-5) before losing to St. Pius X’s Kintzli Wagner and Megan Griffin 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

The top two teams advance to state.

“It’s unbelievable to think that we are the first two players in the history of a school as old as Chrisman to go to state,” Ashurst said. “When we realized  we were going to state I was in la la land - I just couldn’t believe it.”

Gant, the winningest singles player in Chrisman history, agreed.

“We both wish we could have won that last doubles match, but it is such an honor to go to state and be the first tennis players to represent William Chrisman. It’s an honor we want to share with our teammates and our coaches.”

Bears head coach Jason Grubb is proud of his seniors being the first ones to advance to state. Gant broke the school record for career individual wins earlier this season and has 110 heading into the state tournament. Ashurst is not far behind with 101.

“I remember when those young ladies were freshmen,” Grubb said. “To see them grow up and become our first state qualifiers makes me so happy. We’re a family here at Chrisman and they will always be remembered as our first state qualifiers.”