It's been a long time since the Minot High School boys tennis team won a state championship.
Today the Magicians play Grand Forks Central in Bismarck for the first of what the team hopes is four victories in a row that ends a title drought dating back to 1988.
To accomplish the feat, MHS must rely on its depth. Five of the seven players the team is likely to use this weekend are seniors.
Minot High School senior Hunter Oothoudt eyes a forehand during the West Region tournament in Bismarck last week. Oothoudt, who finished third at state a season ago, is the No. 1 seed from the West Region at this weekend’s state tournament.
"We are a really deep team," senior Hunter Oothoudt said. "We're strong from one through seven. We have players that can play anywhere we want them to play."
MHS coach Scott DeLorme said after taking fifth each of the last two years, the team set loftier expectations before the season even began.
"I think we made that clear right away as we talked on the first week of practice," DeLorme said. "We laid out what we'd like to achieve this year. It's amazing how much in years past players would write down 'get to a state tournament.' Not this year. They'd like to win it."
To do that, the Magicians will likely have to take down Grand Forks Red River. The Roughriders have won the last 14 state championships.
Minot hasn't faced Red River in a dual this year but a few Magicians played Roughriders at the West Fargo Boys Tennis Invite in September. Oothoudt won his flight against Red River's Joey Anderson.
The MHS senior is one of seven Magicians that will participate in the individual portion of the state tournament. Oothoudt is seeded No. 1 from the West Region after winning the regional tournament last week. Oothoudt finished third a year ago and aims to become the first Magician to win state since his brother Josh won his second title in 2008.
"I think his only goal is to win a state championship," DeLorme said. "I know that's a big goal but he's very prepared. I think he's one of four or five individuals that have a real possibility of winning it."
Senior Jordin Gardner, a transfer student from Surprise, Ariz., is the No. 8 seed from the West.
Sophomore Dustin Foster and senior Landon Klein finished fifth in last year's state tournament and enter the doubles bracket seeded fifth from the West. The pair was upset in the second round of the region tournament. Seniors Lane Vendsel and Peter Wilson are the region's No. 8 seed.