2013: Girls tennis wins state; Ediger, Holle win state doubles

Emily Ediger and Camry Holle highlight McPherson’s state championship team from 2013, but the Bullpups won 4A that year thanks to a total team effort.

The Bullpups qualified their entire team, and all six entries recorded points. McPherson scored 51 points as a team, compared to just 31 for second-place Independence.

Ediger and Holle led the way with their state championship. The duo defeated the No. 1 overall seed in Wamego’s Kaylee and Lanie Page in the championship. The Page sisters had defeated Ediger and Holle the prior week in the regional championship.

The second time around, the McPherson duo won the first set 6-2, but the Page sisters responded by winning set two 6-4. The deciding third set went to a tiebreaker, which Ediger and Holle won without dropping a point, 7-0.

Ediger and Holle achieved a career record of 84-29 together throughout high school

Emily’s younger sister, Ellea, finished second in singles as a freshman to also give the Bullpups significant team points. In the third set of her semifinal match, Ediger trailed Wichita Trinity’s Amber Zimmerman 5-0. The freshman then proceeded to win the match by winning seven unanswered games.

Ediger would fall to Independence’s Abbi Groff in the championship 6-3, 6-4, but laid the foundation for a great future, including a doubles state championship her senior year with teammate Rachel Ivers.

Also in singles, Katlyn Reifschneider provided McPherson more big-time points with a sixth-place finish.

The Bullpups also received contributions from the senior doubles team of Brooke Bate and Taylor Swartzendruber, who went 4-2 for ninth.

“The team was really close that year and we had all been playing tennis together since we were kids,” Emily Ediger said. “Winning state was very rewarding after working hard in the summers and during season with Camry.”


2018: Boys tennis goes undefeated, wins state behind Schrader, Stewart repeat

The McPherson High School boys tennis team began the 2018 season preseason ranked No. 1 in 4A. Not only did the Bullpups meet their expectations, they may have even exceeded them.

The Bullpups won every meet they entered, including league, regionals, and state. McPherson also won the John Markham Goddard Spring Classic and the Wichita Collegiate Tournament of Champions, both of which boast some of the best teams from all classifications from all across the state.

The Bullpups were led by four upperclassmen, including perhaps the best senior class in program history. In doubles, Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart won their second consecutive state championship, while Andrew Snell finished third in singles.

Schrader finished his career as a three-time state doubles champion and four-time state finalist, winning his freshman year with teammate Gallagher Martin and finishing second his sophomore year with teammate Kento Aizawa.

Stewart was also a four-time state medalist, finishing ninth in singles as a freshman and ninth in doubles as a sophomore with teammate Hadley Hageman.

Junior Jarrod Nowak finished second in singles, which is still the best finish from a singles player in program history.

Additionally, sophomores Jackson Schrader and Rhett Edmonson finished 10th in doubles to give the Bullpups an extra boost over second-place Wichita Collegiate. The Bullpups finished with 48 points compared to 41 for Collegiate.

“That senior class really was something special. All of them were four-time state medalists. Jarrod wasn’t a senior, but those three seniors plus Jarrod did things that had never happened here before,” head coach Tyler Brown said. “To have that caliber of tennis players is rare. You have to enjoy it and love it when you have that kind of talent from day one.”


2018: Barrett breaks state record, wins third straight triple jump

On the final jump in Elle Barrett’s McPherson High School career, she set a personal record in the triple jump at 39 feet, 11.5 inches. The jump shattered a 20-year state track and field meet record by 10.5 inches, while also moving her to No. 8 all time in Kansas history.

Barrett went back and forth with Mariah Murdie of Jefferson West before pulling ahead in the final jump. Barrett also won the long jump earlier that day with a jump of 18-1.5.

Barrett finished her McPherson career with five state championships, including three in the triple jump.

“Everyone in our camp knew exactly what was going to happen. Elle was not going to let anyone beat her no matter what the circumstances were,” McPherson track and field head coach Jace Pavlovich said. “The crowd, which was over 10,000 strong, was all watching the triple jump pit that afternoon during that event. It was an incredible thing to witness.”

Barrett is currently a sophomore on the Washburn track and field team.


2017: McPherson football beats Buhler in overtime with “Jade”

McPherson head football coach Jace Pavlovich nearly called a different play.

In the opening round of the 2017 4A Division I State Playoffs, McPherson and Buhler went to overtime tied at seven. Buhler took the ball first from the 10 yard line and scored in three plays.

When the Bullpups got the ball, they answered right back with a Drew Labertew touchdown from the Wildcat formation. Instead of kicking an extra point to send the game into double overtime, Pavlovich and the Pups opted to go for two and the win.

Pavlovich originally planned on sticking with Labertew in the Wildcat on the two-point try, but called a timeout to call something even more outside the box.

“We knew we wanted to go for two and end the game but didn't know what particular play to call,” Pavlovich said. “I called a gap running scheme out of our Wildcat set and didn't like the look we were getting. I elected to call a timeout and run Jade.”

What many NFL fans would call the “Philly Special,” those in McPherson refer to it as Jade. Quarterback Kyler Hoppes stood in the shotgun with punishing running back Jace Kinnamon in the backfield with him. Hoppes motioned out to the right, and Kinnamon took the direct snap.

Kinnamon sprinted left, while speedy receiver Gabe Hoover ran right to receive the pitch from Kinnamon. It was then Hoover who lofted the game-winning pass to an open Hoppes in the corner of the end zone.

“People still tell me how gutsy of a call that was, but the bottom line is that I trusted our players to execute whatever offensive play call we had,” Pavlovich said. “It was as simple as that. Running a play in which you have Jace Kinnamon, Gabe Hoover, and Kyler Hoppes all touching the ball is a good play call no matter what.”

The Bullpups continued the momentum from the Buhler win on the road the next week at Maize South. The prior season, McPherson went 0-2 against Maize South including a loss in the playoffs. The Bullpups were 9-1 after beating Buhler with their lone loss coming against Maize South.

The Bullpups exacted their revenge with a 28-7 win, scoring the final 21 points of the game. And while the Bullpups ended their season against Andale in the semifinals, the 2017 playoff run will be remembered for two big wins over Buhler and Maize South.


2011-2012: Loecker wins Gatorade POY, Bullpups win state title over Holton

In the 2012 4A Girls Basketball State Championship, McPherson faced defending state champions Holton, who was fresh off a 26-0 season the prior year and entered the state championship game at 25-0.

But it was the Bullpups who boasted the Gatorade Player of the Year in Katelyn Loecker, and finished the season with a 25-1 record. The Bullpups snapped Holton’s 51-game winning streak with a 34-27 win in the state championship game.

If you’re a fan of offense, this game was not for you. The Bullpups led 8-7 at halftime thanks to 24 turnovers combined by both teams in the first half.

Loecker was hampered by foul trouble and finished with eight points and six rebounds. It was senior Tanner Hein who was the hero, making all six of her free throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

“Not the prettiest game, but we won with toughness and our senior leader Tanner Hein came up huge in the clutch with handling pressure and hitting 6-6 free throws to clinch the win,” head coach Chris Strathman said.

As a junior, Loecker averaged 16.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.5 steals a game en route to being named the state’s top player. Loecker would win the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year her senior season as well, averaging 17.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 steals before heading off to a four-year career at Oklahoma State.

“Winning the 2012 basketball state championship holds a special place in my heart for many reasons. I remember when I was younger how much I looked up to the high school basketball girls such as Ashley Sweat, Marlies Gipson and that group of players,” Loecker said. “I remember the final seconds ticking down and when the buzzer sounded I ran back to the bench in tears of joy because we all accomplished our biggest goal of hanging a banner in the Roundhouse.

“The McPherson community has always been phenomenal in showing support and I loved playing for and in front of them.”


2012: Volleyball wins first state championship in program history over Topeka Hayden

In 2012, the McPherson High volleyball team defeated Topeka Hayden in three thrilling sets to capture the program’s first volleyball state championship.

In order to do so, the Bullpups had to take down a Hayden team that is a perennial power in volleyball. Hayden has won four volleyball state titles this decade, and in 2012 it appeared they would add one more to the total.

Hayden defeated McPherson in pool play in straight sets (25-20, 25-23). Fortunately, the Bullpups were able to defeat Buhler and Frontenac in pool play, both in straight sets, to advance to the semifinals.

“We were intimidated by Hayden and played timid,” head coach Christy Doile said. “The team understood that tomorrow, we can't hold back, no regrets.”

McPherson faced Rose Hill in the semifinals, defeating the Rockets 25-17, 28-26.

Hayden, who hadn’t dropped a set at the state tournament, was waiting in the finals. The Wildcats jumped on the Bullpups early, winning the first set 25-22.

McPherson won the first four points of set two, and led 20-14 at one point. Although the Wildcats made a slight comeback, the Bullpups were able to hang on for a 25-22 win to send the match to a deciding third set.

The final set went down to the wire. Tied at 20, McPherson won five of the next eight points to capture the state title. Libero Abby Pedersen made a pass to setter Moria Pyle, who passed the ball to Paige Regnier for the game-winning kill.

Katelyn Loecker, Briana Pontious, and Tashley Snyder were the seniors on that squad.

“Taking part in winning the first volleyball state championship was truly special,” Loecker said. “After Paige killed the ball on the final point, we all collapsed in the middle of the floor in tears. That group of girls was special because we all pulled for each other in order to achieve our end goal of hanging the first volleyball banner in the Roundhouse.

“Watching it back on film and seeing how Coach Doile and the other coaches reacted is also something I’ll never forget.”


2010-2011: Ulsaker, Pyle lead Bullpups to state championship

The McPherson boys basketball team began the decade on an extremely high note, going 24-1 and winning the 5A State Championship.

The Bullpups were led by the highest scoring duo in school history. Christian Ulsaker averaged 23.4 points a game while Jack Pyle added 21.8 per game. Both Ulsaker and Pyle were First Team All State selections, and Ulsaker was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kansas.

Head coach Kurt Kinnamon says this team was more than a two-man show. Cory Horton, Parker Hambley, and Travell Robinson rounded out the starting lineup. Cody Cape, Jordan Hart, Kevin Spencer and Luke Moore were the top reserves.

“Each starter and reserve played their role to perfection,” Kinnamon said.

McPherson’s only loss this season came to 6A State Champions Wichita Heights in the McPherson Invitational Championship. Heights was led by future KU star Perry Ellis, although it was Ulsaker who shined brightest with 39 points.

McPherson would not lose another game that season. Ulsaker and Pyle ended their careers with a state championship over Kansas City Washington, 79-68.

“The championship was memorable because it was the 100th year celebration of state champions in Topeka that night and we had players from all the previous McPherson state championship teams come onto the floor before the game,” Kinnamon said.


2019: McPherson High School leads the charge to sanction girls wrestling in Kansas

Led by McPherson High School head wrestling coach Doug Kretzer, Kansas became the 15th state to sanction girls wrestling at the high school level last April in a near-unanimous decision.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association needed at least 24 schools on board before girls wrestling could officially be sanctioned.

In the meantime, McPherson hosted an unofficial state championship for girls wrestling inside the McPherson Roundhouse on Feb. 11, 2017. McPherson had 13 wrestlers that season, and the unofficial state championship saw 36 schools and 56 girls participate.

Although only 56 wrestlers attended the state meet, there were 112 girls wrestling in Kansas in 2017. The next year, the number of girls wrestling went up to 215.

Now, girls wrestling is a sanctioned sport, and McPherson is currently ranked No. 1 in the state. There are no classifications as of now. The best girls wrestling teams from 6A through 1A will all be crammed into Tony’s Pizza Event Center in Salina on Feb. 27.

Leading the way to sanction girls wrestling at the high school level has been a four-year process. What started as a way to get Kretzer’s daughter, Mya, competition against her own gender transformed into a journey that now gives high school girls in Kansas an opportunity they previously did not have.

“The ups and downs of trying to change history was both exhausting and fulfilling,” Kretzer said. “To reap the rewards of this great sport shouldn’t be available to a single gender, and now it’s not. History was made on that day last April, and every girl who puts on a singlet in Kansas should be proud that they have the opportunity to dream of being a high school wrestling state champion.”


2013-2014/2014-2015: Bullpups go 48-1 in two year span, win back-to-back state titles

For back to back seasons, McPherson High School reigned supreme in boys basketball.

In 2013-2014, the Bullpups went 23-1 and won the 4A-Division I State Championship over Topeka Hayden, 57-40.

McPherson’s lone loss came in the first round of the McPherson Invitational. The Bullpups entered as the No. 1 seed and fell to eighth-seed Wichita North after North jumped out to a large lead the Bullpups could never come back from.

McPherson won its next two MIT games to finish fifth, and won 14 straight en route to the championship.

“That loss helped refocus us with the understanding that any team was capable on any night,” head coach Kurt Kinnamon said.

The Bullpups were led this season by the Horton twins, Peter and Ryan, along with Kyler Kinnamon, who was an All-State Top 5 selection. Drew Pyle, a freshman, and Nathan Nutter, a junior, were also starters. Marcus McDaniel, Spenser Wine and Avery Gabel were the top reserves.

Kyler Kinnamon led the way offensively with 15.5 points per game, but this Bullpup team won with defense. Opponents shot 36.3 percent and averaged 42.2 points per game against the Bullpups this season.

The Horton twins graduated the following season, but the Bullpups were blessed when 6-4 senior Payton Stephens transferred from Manhattan High School to join Kinnamon and Nutter in a strong senior class.

Stephens would go on to lead the Bullpups with 16.1 points a game.

“It is a tribute to all of the team members that they made him feel so welcome without ego or jealousy,” Coach Kinnamon said.

In the MIT Championship, the Bullpups defeated Manhattan in a game where emotions were high on both sides. The Bullpups never trailed and won 81-55 led by 19 points from Drew Pyle.

McPherson continued its momentum all the way to the 4A DI State Championship where they faced off against another undefeated team in Basehor-Linwood. The Bullpups led 42-40 at the end of three, but outscored the Bobcats 32-20 in the final eight minutes to capture their second straight state championship.

While the previous year’s team won with defense, the Bullpups capped off their 25-0 state championship team in 2015-2016 with offense.

The Bullpups shot 53.4 percent from the field for the entire season. While Stephens led the way at 16.1 points a game, Pyle added 15.1 and Kinnamon chipped in with 13.1 a game.

Stephens earned All-State honors and again Kinnamon was named All-State Top 5.

“This was a team that set the goal of going undefeated at the beginning of the season, and they were able to accomplish that by beating another undefeated team in the finals,” Coach Kinnamon said.


2018: Bullpups take down Bishop Miege in overtime for state championship

It was a story-book ending for seniors Taylor Robertson and Mandi Cooks.

The 2017 season ended in heartbreak for the two future Division I basketball players. The Bullpups lost to Bishop Miege 66-59 in the state title, but when the rematch happened one year later, McPherson was able to even the score.

Bishop Miege and McPherson are the top two girls basketball programs in the history of Kansas high school athletics. Miege owns a staggering 21 state championships, while McPherson won its ninth on March 10, 2018 against the Stags.

McPherson was down six with about two minutes remaining. After the Bullpups forced a Miege turnover, Cooks cut the lead to four points with a shot inside the paint on the following possession.

After Miege responded by making one of two free throws, Cooks again came up clutch by snagging an offensive rebounding and connecting on a layup to make it a three-point game with 1:05 remaining.

Miege turned the ball over on its next possession, and Riley Hett sent the game into overtime by connecting on a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to tie the game at 51.

McPherson took its first lead of the game at 53-52 when Robertson connected on two free throws. McPherson never surrendered the lead. The Bullpups led by as many as six in overtime before the Stags came back with two 3-pointers late to make it a one-point game.

With 15 seconds left, Robertson made two free throws to put the Bullpups up 61-58. Miege got an open look for a game-tying 3, but missed. Robertson hauled in the rebound and was immediately fouled, and went to the line to shoot two.

Needing to make one free throw to make it a two-possession game, Robertson missed the first free throw - her only miss from the line that game. The ball was half way in before it rattled out.

The senior star composed herself, and knocked down the game-winning free throw with 1.9 seconds left to give the Bullpups the 62-58 win.

Bishop Miege had won four straight state championships before falling to the Bullpups.

“I know I’m biased, but I don’t see how any singular moment from the last decade tops our 2018 win over Miege,” Strathman said. “Anything that can bring most of the McPherson crowd to tears of joy for a group of kids (Taylor in particular) but also Mandi and all they had to overcome in that year...can’t think of a more deserving choice.”

Honorable Mentions

2014: Girls bowling wins 5-1A State

The McPherson High School girls bowling team outlasted Andover Central and Wichita Heights to claim the 2014 5-1A State Championship. The Bullpups scored 2,443 points compared to second-place Andover Central (2,424), and third-place Wichita Heights (2,414).

Crystal Nutter led the way by bowling a 629 over four games. Mayci Nightingale and Jasmine Wann were right behind Nutter, each bowling a 627. Mackenzie Benson (560), Rhianna Smith (483), and Alexis Kieffer (420) also helped lead the Bullpups to the state title.

“The girls were really a team, they all wanted to win at state and focused on that instead of individual performance,” head coach Herb Halinski said. “It was truly a great group of girls; they seemed to care about their teammates and put forth a lot of effort. I still see some of them and they always comment on what it was like to be a member of a team that performed well together.”

2019: Radke breaks school record for takedowns, wins individual state championship

Scott Radke was a four-year lettermen for the McPherson High School boys wrestling team. In his four years, Radke accumulated 470 takedowns - a school record - and finished his career as the 5A State Champion at 160.

In his final match, Radke defeated Goddard’s Trevor Dopps by a 3-1 decision. A late takedown in the third period sealed his win.

Radke went 11-20 as a freshman, then went 111-18 his final three seasons in high school.

“It was a tremendous four-year journey,” head coach Doug Kretzer said. “It was great to see his big hair and big smile on the top of the podium last February.”

Radke is currently a freshman on the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M wrestling team.

2016: Andric McGill breaks state record with 101 career goals

Nobody in the history of high school soccer in the state of Kansas scored as many goals as McPherson High’s Andric McGill.

McGill owns the state record for goals in a career with 101 from 2013-2016. He had a career-high 37 goals as a junior, and followed that up with a 36-goal senior season.

McGill’s Bullpups reached the state semifinals his freshman and sophomore seasons, and reached the regional championships his junior and senior seasons. Although his main goal of bringing McPherson its first state championship in boys soccer fell short, McGill owns an impressive record that has remained safe since his graduation.

“101 goals and a state record wasn’t truly what I set my mind to,” McGill said. “I wanted to get my team to a state championship.

“I am very grateful to have this record. Not a lot of people can say they have a state record, so I really do appreciate it more so now looking back at it.”


VanGoethem, Steinert, Powers, Hampton swim 2nd fastest time in 5-1A History, win first state championship in boys swimming history

The McPherson boys swimming team has reached new heights in the last few years. To end the 2019 season, the Bullpups saw their first individual state championship thanks to the 200 yard freestyle relay team of Dawson VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, Will Powers and Justus Hampton.

At the 5-1A State Championship, the Bullpup relay team won gold with a time of 1:27.83 - the second fastest time in 5-1A state history.

VanGoethem was the first in the pool, followed Steinert and Powers, while Hampton anchored. Before the start of the 200 yard freestyle, Hampton had broken the school record in the 500 free five minutes earlier.

Many school records have been broken in recent years, especially with Powers and Hampton still in school, but these four Bullpups won the first state championship.

“It’s something that will never be done again,” former head coach Matt Morrow said. “That’s pretty cool to be the first, at a school like ours especially, with all the team state titles, to be able to put swimming into the part of the success of McPherson High School athletics was a big deal for them.”

The Bullpups have now taken fifth in 5-1A the past two seasons, despite being lower on numbers compared to the top schools.

“Because we don’t have home meets, we don’t ever get to perform in front of McPherson fans,” Morrow said. “They kept working and it was a great moment for McPherson swimming.”