LAWRENCE — Even the absence of three varsity swimmers was not enough to keep the McPherson High School swimming team from competing for a team championship at the Lawrence Invitational.

But host school Lawrence High surged ahead in the final event to win the invitational by 18 points. Lawrence (330) and McPherson (312) were all alone at the top as Bishop Miege finished in third place with 247 points.

“With only 11 swimmers, I was really pleased with their performance,” head coach Matt Morrow said. “It wasn’t our best meet, time wise, but the boys swam hard.”

The meet started out in dramatic fashion with the 200 medley relay team of Rece Reiman, Eric Gaeddert, Carson Stone and Dawson VanGoethem edging a team from Bishop Miege by .01 of a second for first place.

Gaeddert is headed to state in the 200 Individual Medley after taking first place with a time of 2:16.60 The 200 IM is the fifth event Gaeddert has qualified for state in. Gaeddert also finished second in the 100 freestyle.

Jori VanGoethem stepped up and grabbed a first place finish in the 100 yard breastroke — his first individual first place finish of the year.

“I feel like our top swimmers continue to perform well, but I’m also sensing our other guys starting gain confidence, wanting to swim some tougher events,” Morrow said. “Gage Stafford had a great meet, swimming the 500 free for the first time and pulling in some much needed points for the team. Hopefully, we can get everyone back to healthy and get ready for the final stretch of the season.”

The Bullpups also saw good days from Dawson VanGoethem, who finished second in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle, and Gavin Soukup, who finished third in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 100 butterfly.

The Bullpups are off until next Saturday when they head to the Wichita Northwest Invitational. Morrow said this is the biggest meet of the year so far.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel.