It’s safe to say that the McPherson High girls swimming team has truly arrived.
The Bullpups scored a school-record 79 points in the Class 5-1A State Swimming and Diving Championships that concluded Saturday at Topeka. Blue Valley more than doubled second-place Wichita Independent 381-177 to win the title, with Newton (162) taking third.
“To have ended up 11th out of 30 teams really speaks highly of how hard these girls have worked all year,” MHS coach Bonnie Sue Fisher said. “Considering the facilities and the number of hours that the other teams have to get their swimmers in shape, it is obvious that ours have to work twice as hard whenever they are in the pool in order to compete strongly.”
It was a harrowing final day, as there was a lengthy delay due to tornadoes in the area.
Once the competition resumed, the Bullpups turned in a terrific performance, punctuated by Fisher being named Class 5-1A Coach of the Year.
The Bullpups made the championship finals in four events.
Mariah Regier was sixth in the 100 butterfly in 1:04.19 and was on two relay teams that also made the finals.
Regier was joined on the sixth-place 200 medley relay team (2:02.27) by her sister Cheyenne, Kassidy Glazner and Rochelle Cottrell.
In the 200 freestyle relay, Cottrell was unable to join the Regiers and Glazner due to graduation, so Mariah Bryant stepped in. They took eighth in 1:49.78.
Glazner also made the finals in the 50 freestyle, taking eighth in 26.65. She added a 12th in the 100 freestyle consolation in 58.12.
The Bullpups’ other placing on Saturday came in the 400 freestyle relay consolation, as the Regiers, Bryant and Alex Underwood, subbing for Cottrell, took 16th in 4:29.42.
“The strongest part of the meet for me was that on Friday as we were qualifying for so many top-eight races, every girl was hitting personal-best times, including all of their splits on the relays,” Fisher said. “While times were not quite as fast on Saturday, considering all the tornado delays and being stuffed in locker rooms for an hour, it was very understandable. But each girl, down to the last leg of the 400 relay, pushed each race and gave all they had to give.”
Fisher admitted she was surprised, but thrilled, by her state coaching honor.
“Being elected Kansas 5-1A High School Swimming Coach of the Year was indeed a thrill,” she said. “I knew that I had been nominated Friday at the coaches meeting, but considering that I was up against the Stillwell-Blue Valley coach whose team ended up winning the meet, I really wasn’t expecting the award. It was an honor to realize that the coaches looked beyond those results and looked instead to what we were able to accomplish with only five swimmers and took note of the progress that has been made in the last couple of years.”
Now that the Bullpups are a major player in the meet, Fisher is looking forward to next year. Cottrell was the only senior who attended state, which means Fisher has a tremendous nucleus for next year and hopes to add some newcomers.
“As always, I am looking forward to working with a whole new group of freshmen next year and starting all over,” she said. “Those that went to state as alternates got to see a much-higher level of competition and all of the girls walked out of the meet with new goals in mind for next year and knowing already how hard they will have to work to obtain those goals.”