Twelve days ago, Washington High school defeated crosstown rivals and defending badminton state champion Johnson.
However, Tuesday was different.
The two teams met again, this time in the state championship game. But this time, Johnson came out on top beating Washington 5-2 at Burnsville High School for its fifth straight state title, ninth in the past 10 years and 10th overall.
“If there was a right time to lose, it was then,” Johnson coach Mark Fischbach said. “Losing is a part of sports. It’s not the fun part but it’s the part you learn from.
“After losing 11 days ago, the team had to make a decision: Where do we go from here? There was two ways we could go, up or down and they exceeded all expectations.”
The May 3 loss broke up a perfect season for Johnson, which finished the year 18-1.
Five titles in five years haven’t come without pressure.
No. 1 singles player and senior captain Nuh Chi Chah said the team has felt pressure since the start of last season and it has only grown since then.
Fellow captain and No.3 doubled player Joy Moua said the loss to Washington earlier in the season humbled the team and made the desire for a state championship even stronger.
“It was a shock to us, and it definitely helped motivate us, especially for the girls that lost,”Moua said. “This is a sport; this is why badminton is fun because you lose sometimes, and you win sometimes. We have been defending our state title for so long and finally something clicked (after the loss).”
Johnson’s No. 2 singles player Padi Moua was one of the girls that lost to Washington the first time around, falling 21-9.
She flipped the switch in the final, beating the same opponent 21-9.
“That really pushed me to beat her today. It pushed me to a higher level,” Padi Moua said.
For Washington, it was the fourth time they finished as runner up in the past five years. The team improved slightly from their championship loss last year in which they lost 6-1.
St. Paul continued to dominate high school badminton in 2019 as the top seven seeds in the tournament were St. Paul area schools and the semifinals featured two St. Paul matchups.
Washington matched up against Harding and Johnson played Central.
In the third-place match, Harding beat Central 5-2.
“The (St. Paul) programs are growing,” Fischbach said. “I can’t speak for other schools, but we don’t cut anybody. We include everybody, and girls want to be a part of it. It’s a big deal in St. Paul.”
Johnson was the only school senior Joy Moua wanted to go to because of the badminton program, and it helped her find herself.
“For me personally, I’m not that good at sports. I’m not athletic. I didn’t have anything that I held close to myself but badminton,” Joy Moua said. “It’s really great and inspiring for myself that I can actually achieve something so grand.”