I seem to be saying this a lot in recent years.
It was “The Year of the Bullpups” during the 2017-18 school year.
But maybe this year more than the others, this truly was a year of Bullpup domination. It started in the fall, carried over into the winter and wrapped up this past weekend.
Two new state championship banners will be hung in December during the annual Wall of Fame ceremonies, running the total to 56.
And speaking of the Wall, it is going to expand greatly as a number of athletes will be going on. In fact, a record 11 athletes will be added in December, 10 of them being from the Class of 2018. The only exception is Gallagher Martin, who has had to wait for Nolan Schrader to graduate as the duo won the state tennis doubles title way back in 2015 when Schrader was a freshman.
Also, Emma Ruddle has now qualified for the Wall, but she’s only a sophomore and won’t be officially added until 2020. Same for Rhett Edmonson, as he has two more years to add to his wrestling legacy.
New members who automatically qualified for December are:
• Nolan Schrader, 3-time state doubles champion
• Gallagher Martin, state doubles champion from 2015
• Elle Barrett, five-time state track and field champion
• Mandi Cooks, 2016 state high jump champion
• Kaden Stewart, two-time state doubles champion
• Taylor Robertson, two-time All-State All-Class basketball first team
• Darrius Armstrong, two-time first-team All-State soccer
• Devin Cape, two-time first-team All-State soccer
• Aislinn Hughes, three-time All-State soccer first team
• Ben Pyle, All-State All-Class first team in basketball in 2018.
• Dylan Werries, two-time All-State first-team baseball.
It’s no wonder McPherson High won 11 AVCTL Division III championships this year and fared well at many state competitions.
Here’s a breakdown of MHS sports by the seasons:
• FALL •
The fall opened with a bang with the MHS football team knocking off favored Buhler in the season opener and it was the beginning of a runaway freight train. The Bullpups finished 10-2, beating Buhler again in the playoffs on the infamous “Jade” play, and advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Andale. MHS also earned a piece of the league title.
The volleyball team was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state at one point and finished with a 35-6 record, though it fell one match short of state. It also won the league title.
The boys soccer team, which blew through the league, made it to state semifinals where it lost to, you guessed it, Miege 3-1 before coming back to beat Spring Hill 1-0 for third.
The girls tennis team didn’t win league, but Maisie Edmonson and Taylor Bruce made it to the state semifinals before finishing fourth.
While the MHS cross country teams didn’t win league, the Bullpups sent Natalie Hedlund on to state.
• WINTER •
The Bullpups left Division III in its wake.
Five of the six sports won league championships and, of course, the highlight was the girls basketball team winning the state title, overcoming a 9-point deficit against the Miege mystique with just over 2 minutes remaining before winning in overtime.
The girls and boys both won league basketball titles with 9-0 records and the boys had a chance at a state sweep, but Miege played an incredible second half to rally for the win. Still, it was a third straight second-place state finish after having won back-to-back titles as MHS has been in the title game five years in a row.
The Bullpups pulled off a rarity in that they produced both Miss Basketball (Taylor Robertson) and Mr. Basketball (Ben Pyle). MHS also won the McPherson Invitational and Mid America Classic, something it hadn’t done in the same year for quite some time.
The Bullpup wrestling team won the league and the season was capped by Rhett Edmonson winning a state championship while Scott Radke barely lost in the finals.
The boys bowling team won the league and had Taylor Miller and Clayton Ouellette finish in the Top 20 at state. Ouellette also made MHS history with the school's first-ever 300 game in actual competition.
The boys swimming team had an amazing season, winning nearly every meet they competed in and finishing fifth in the state.
The girls bowling team was in a rebuilding year, but figures to be better next year.
• SPRING •
Where do we begin?
The boys tennis team, for the first time in its history, went undefeated through the entire season and capped it by outlasting arch-rival Wichita Collegiate for the state championship. Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart repeated as state champs and for Schrader it was his third state doubles title. Jarod Nowak became the first Bullpup to play for a state singles title, losing a hard-fought match, and Andrew Snell was third in singles. Rhett Edmonson and Jackson Schrader rounded out the perfect team.
The girls soccer team compiled its best-ever record, 18-2-1, smashing about every school record imaginable — including 136 goals while allowing only 9 — and taking third in the state after losing to eventual champion Miege in the semifinals. All 11 MHS starters received some type of league honor.
The girls track and field team was the third of the spring to win a league title. Elle Barrett won two more state championships to finish her career with five and Emma Ruddle won two golds as well and she still has two more years to go.
The boys track and field team had an excellent year and nearly had a state champion as Tyson Stites was nipped in a photo finish in the finals of the 110 hurdles.
The girls swimming team won five meets and finished second in four others as it gave the boys’ season a run for their money. The Bullpups had solid representation at state, with Megan Cutting making the finals in two events.
MHS’ baseball team came within a whisker of making it to state, losing to Buhler in the final inning the regional title game. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the ‘Pups, but they went 15-7.
The regular season was somewhat of a struggle for the boys golf team, but it played well when it mattered as underclassmen Kyler Hoppes and Tyler Hoxie advanced state.
The softball team is in rebuilding mode and showed pains of having a young team, but the experienced gained this year should prove beneficial next year.
I said last year that I wasn’t sure the 2016-17 school year could be topped, but it was. The 2018-19 year has a tough act to follow.