TOPEKA — The most decorated season in McPherson High School boys swimming history concluded on Saturday at the Class 5-1A State Swimming Championships in Topeka.
The Bullpups finished fifth out of 31 teams in what became a runaway state championship for Topeka Seaman. McPherson scored 141 team points, while Wichita Heights (182), St. James (189), and Bishop Miege (197) were all looking up to Topeka Seaman, who scored 347 points.
Taking fifth place at state – the highest finish for the Bullpups in school history – was just the icing on the cake this season.
The Bullpups won nine invitationals and finished second in the other two over the course of the regular season. It’s no wonder why head coach Matt Morrow could not have been more pleased with the way his team’s season ended.
“What a fantastic ending to a fantastic season for McPherson High boys swimming,” Morrow said. “This was one of the fastest state meets I've ever seen, multiple state records broken and personal records consistently across all events. This meet even competed from a time standpoint with the 6A state meet, so to have this level of success at a competition of this caliber is really impressive.”
The Bullpups brought home medals in seven of the 11 events they competed in. Additionally, four school records were broken on Saturday along with personal records in 16 out of 22 swims.
In short, this McPherson squad set the bar for future teams.
“I can't tell you how proud I am of this group of young men,” Morrow said. “All season long they have worked hard and competed as a team always coming together when they needed to the most.”
McPherson High’s highest finish came from first-team All State swimmer Will Powers in the 100 freestyle, who took third with a time of 47.91. Powers was also fourth in the 100 backstroke along with taking part in the 200 medley relay team which finished seventh and the 400 freestyle relay team which finished fourth.
Justus Hampton, who was also on the 200 medley relay team and the 400 freestyle relay team, was a second-team All State selection. Hampton was seventh in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 500 freestyle.
The Bullpups return both Powers and Hampton next year, along with the bulk of their lineup.
However, the Bullpups do graduate four talented seniors in Gavin Soukup, Carson Stone, Jori VanGoethem and Abe Walker.
Morrow knows it will be difficult replacing those four in and out of the pool.
“We are losing four seniors for next year's team, and they have been with me since I started coaching,” Morrow said. “These four have been the foundation that we built on to get to where we are today. It was truly an honor and blessing to coach these four men and fantastic to see their leadership with this team.”
Morrow was also named State Coach of the Year for the second straight season, this time sharing the honor with Topeka Seaman head coach Rod Garman.
“To be on the same page with the coach that put together one of the most dominant state teams in Kansas swimming is truly humbling and an honor,” Morrow said, “but it is mostly recognition of what these boys have done all season.”
Including Powers and Hampton, who are both sophomores, the Bullpups return state qualfyers in Dawson VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, Simon Steinert, Matthew Powers, Rhys Vanderhoof, Zach LeBlanc and Rece Reiman.