St. Paul Highland Park, St. Paul Central duo capture badminton state championships
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2022 - 9:12 AM
St. Paul Highland Park senior HaNeul Jeong-McDonell reversed a loss from a week ago into a state championship at the Badminton State Tournament on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at Edina High School.
Jeong-McDonell, the No. 2 seed in the singles field to open the individual tournament, recorded a 21-12, 21-14 victory over top-seeded Cinderella Nwe of St. Paul Washington to capture the state crown. A week ago, Nwe defeated Jeong-McDonell in the St. Paul City Conference championship match to secure the top seed entering the state tournament. A year ago, Jeong-McDonell was the state runner-up to St. Paul Johnson’s Song Yang in the individual singles state tournament.
Jeong-McDonell is just the second player from St. Paul Highland Park to win a badminton singles state championship. The other was Gao Lee in 2012.
It was a similar storyline in the doubles competition. Last week, the St. Paul Central senior duo of Julia Bowron and Emma Clift lost to St. Paul Johnson’s Ashley Her and Birdy Xiong in the St. Paul city Conference doubles championship match. That result paved the way for Her and Xiong to earn the top seed for the state tournament while Bowron and Clift settled into the No. 3 seed.
In two tense sets for the state championship, Bowron and Clift defeated Her and Xiong 24-22, 21-19 to capture the title. To earn a berth in the state championship match, Bowron and Clift recorded an upset victory in a three-set thriller over Burnsville’s Ashley Briese and Corrina Benson, the No. 2-seeded duo. Briese and Benson won the first set 21-11, but Bowron and Clift rallied to win the following two sets, 21-18 and 22-20, respectively. Earlier in the season, Bowron and Clift lost to Briese and Benson in another three-set match.
Bowron and Clift are St. Paul Central’s second doubles champions and first since Lisa Xiong and Chia Sangwang in 2019.
“The fan involvement this season was intense after the virus restrictions of the previous year,” Tournament Director Kevin Anderson said. “The drama and competitive-point scoring in the doubles semifinal between Central and Burnsville, especially the extra points needed in the third set, created a fervent fan atmosphere unlike the normally staid regular season match environment. I thought I was at a down-to-the-wire basketball game.”