After being just shy of winning their third gold medal in a row and ended up finishing in second in the Salina Invitational, the McPherson High School girls swimming team has been awarded Great Plains Federal Credit Union Team of the Week.
When swimming head coach Abby Bradstreet found out that she and her team was getting the award, she was completely caught off guard, but excited about receiving it after three invitationals. The only thing that's not surprising for Bradstreet is how special this year's Lady Pups are.
"It's really exciting. I was completely surprised, and I hate saying that because I knew we have a lot of talent on the team this year, but you never know until you start. The fact that they won two and got second place in the third meet is just blowing us all away. They're working hard and are really excited about it." Bradstreet said.
On April 5 at the Salina Invitational, the Lady Pups scored 619 points. It placed them second behind Newton High School, a team that scored 659 points. McPherson was already at a 40-point disadvantage because Newton has a diving team, and they don't due to lack of facilities. Playing the what if factor, the Lady pups would've been close to a first-place finish that they could've tasted it. If they had a diving team, McPherson would've trailed only 11 points instead of 40. That's how good their squad is.
"We were so close. The fact that we were able to compete with Newton this year is just night and day different than last year. We were a good 100 points behind them last year. I know we will see Newton at Great Bend, and there's no diving at the meet. So, I am excited to see how we are compared to them, Bradstreet said.
Junior swimmer Maggie Leaf, who's having a great season in her own right, also saw how close McPherson could've beaten Newton. However, she and her teammates are looking forward to getting back at the Railers.
"Obviously, we were a little bit frustrated that we couldn't pull it off, but we're excited to see them again. Hopefully, we're more motivated," Leaf said.
Why is the girls' team having a great start so far? Well apparently, the boys' swimming team may have something to do with it after their championship run last fall.
"I think subconsciously, everyone was motivated in how the boys did. It took us by surprised when they won in Topeka. That sparked a lot of motivation for the past couple of weeks. The boys helped a lot with that," Leaf continued about the bullpups.
Leaf and her teammate Cassie Cooks are just catching up to speed after missing the first week of practice because of the basketball team's state championship run. The transition from the basketball court to the swimming pool is a huge transition. It also didn't help that spring break was right after that. Bradstreet praised Leaf and Cooks for the transition change despite not being at a100 percent in the beginning. For Leaf, breathing plays a factor in the adjustment.
"You definitely have to get used to not breathing in the water, and you have to work on endurance whereas basketball, it was spurts of energy. So within our two weeks of practice, we had to focus on our breathing and getting back into the swing of things," Leaf said.
The Lady Pups have a week to prepare for their next invitational. They will head back to Salina to compete in another varsity invitational beginning at 3:30 p.m on April 20. It gives McPherson plenty of time to focus on switching things up for Bradstreet.
"It's giving us time to tweak some technique things like our strokes and turns, which we wouldn't have the opportunity to do meet after meet. Next meet is a big invitational, and we never been to this one. I hate that we don't have a diving team, but I think our girls can compete without one. That says a lot for them," Bradstreet said.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_ or our sports page @MacCountySports