TOPEKA — The target on the back keeps on growing for the McPherson High School boys swimming team.

For the third time in as many tries, the Bullpups came out of a loaded invitational with a team victory. On Saturday, the Bullpups were the clear winners at the Topeka Invitational, scoring 493 team points. For comparison, second-place Blue Valley West scored 362 points. Blue Valley (231), Bishop Miege (196), and Wichita Independent (175) rounded out the top five.

McPherson has now opened the season with wins at the Newton Invitational, Maize Invitational, and now the Topeka Invitational. It is still early in the season, but the Bullpups are swimming as well as any team in the state.

“These guys are swimming really well and what I like best is they want to compete,” head coach Matt Morrow said. “Almost all of them have that mentality of ‘send your best guy out and let’s race, see who wins.’ It’s a lot of run to watch them.”

Once again the Bullpups were led by their 200 medley relay and 400 free relay teams. In the 200 medley, the team of Will Powers, Jori VanGoethem, Justus Hampton, and Dawson VanGoethem took first with a time of 1:48.60 — nearly seven seconds faster than the next closest team.

The Bullpups also had a second 200 medley relay team that finished third, consisting of Silas Steinert, Matthew Powers, Carson Stone, and Rhys Vanderhoof. Those two relay teams alone scored the Bullpups 72 points.

The 400 free relay team of Hampton, Gavin Soukup, Dawson VanGoethem, and Powers also took fourth, securing another 40 points for the Bullpups.

McPherson scored big points with Powers taking first in the 200 yard individual medley and the 100 yard backstroke. Hampton also won the 500 yard freestyle, while numerous Bullpups finished in the top three, five, and ten.

“We didn’t win every race, but as long as we can keep putting two or three guys in a scoring position, I like our chances the rest of the season,” Morrow said.

The Bullpups step away from competition for the remainder of December and will next compete at the El Dorado Invitational on Jan. 6.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel