It's going to be hard to top 2015

By Steve Sell
December 31, 2015

Once again in 2015, McPherson and its surrounding area fans were beyond spoiled with the accomplishments of their teams and athletes.

The year produced no shortage of thrills, with team state championships and individual titles as well.

Here’s some of the highlights:

• McPherson High’s boys basketball team won its second straight state championship and 13th overall, but this one came with a caveat — it was a perfect season, only the third one for the boys. Kyler Kinnamon was named All-State All-Class for a second straight year.

• Hesston’s girls basketball team kept pace, as like the McPherson boys the Swathers repeated, also in undefeated fashion.

• The Moundridge girls nearly made it three state champions from this area hoop hotbed, but the Wildcats lost in the 2A finals to old nemesis Central Plains.

• McPherson High’s girls basketball team missed the state tournament for only the second time in 20 years, though it certainly was among the best teams in the class. The Bullpups still finished 17-5 and unveiled two of the state’s best freshmen in Taylor Robertson and Mandi Cooks.

• McPherson High’s boys tennis team put on a dominating performance at the Class 4A State Tournament to come away with the championship. With three freshmen and a junior among those on the championship team, the Bullpups will have a target on their back in 2016. In a rarity, it was an all-Bullpups final in doubles, as Gallagher Martin and Nolan Schrader defeated teammates Luke Williams and Kento Aizawa. With Andrew Snell taking fourth in singles and Kaden Stewart placing ninth, the Bullpups turned the event into their own private showcase.

• Hesston’s boys used consistency to win the Class 3A state tennis title. The Swathers, coached by former Lindsborg High School (now Smoky Valley) state champion Mark Dahlsten, didn’t have any individual champions, but were solid from top to bottom.

• McPherson High graduate Tim Prescott, wrestling for St. Cloud State in Minnesota, captured the NCAA Division II national championship at 125 pounds and earned All-America honors. Prescott, who ironically never won a state title at MHS even though he was in the Final Four each of his four years, is back for his senior season and hopes to cap his career in style with back-to-back championships.

• The McPherson High senior-less girls soccer team made it to the finals of the Class 4-1A State Tournament before losing 1-0 in the championship match against Topeka Hayden at McPherson Stadium. The Bullpups most likely will enter 2016 as the preseason favorite.

• Maybe the most unlikely story of the year was the McPherson High baseball team. Coming off a 7-14 season and breaking in a new coach in Heath Gerstner, the Bullpups picked up steam and advanced to the state finals for the first time in school history, losing to No. 1-ranked and senior-laden Topeka Hayden. MHS started only two seniors, though replacing All-Stater Cody Starkel and Griffin Myers will be a tough chore.

• McPherson High’s volleyball team has been a staple at the Class 4A Division I State Tournament at Salina and this year was no exception. Led by first-team All-Staters Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander, the Bullpups roared into the finals before losing to machine-like Miege for the title. It was their third appearance in the state title match in five years.

• The McPherson High girls tennis team, a state champion in 2013 and runner-up in 2014, tied for third in 2015. However, the all-junior doubles team of Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers perhaps stamped themselves as the team to beat in 2016 by taking second place.

• State track produced some highlights. Moundridge’s DeShawn Pfeiff and Hesston’s Justin Smith won state championships in the 400 meters and triple jump, respectively. McPherson High’s Amy Suenram and Chris Stoppel nabbed silvers in the long jump and 100 meters, respectively. 

• Smoky Valley’s Austin Cook and McPherson High’s Austin Eldredge easily were the standouts on the wrestling mat. Cook won a state championship with an undefeated season and Eldredge advanced to the Final Four before taking third.

• It was a good year on the lanes for the McPherson High bowling teams, the girls taking fourth in the state and the boys seventh. MHS’ Jasmine Wann was fourth individually as she concluded her career.

• In the pool, McPherson’s Eric Gaeddert made it to the Sweet 16 at state in two events. Katie Wurm did likewise for the girls.

• The McPherson High Wall of Fame swelled as a large class was inducted, including Emily Ediger, Camry Holle, Nicole Gieselman, Kyler Kinnamon, Kristina Barrow and Jim Post. Banners were raised during the December ceremony for boys basketball and boys tennis.

• At McPherson College, the men and women both qualified for tennis nationals, the first time they had done it in the same year in school history. With both teams loaded with returnees, the Bulldogs may very well make it back in 2016.

• Another highlight at McPherson College was the induction of longtime basketball coach Roger Trimmell and former star basketball player Jonathan Coachman into the Hall of Fame. Trimmell is the all-time wins leader at the school, while Coachman — now a popular broadcaster at ESPN — had several school records upon the completion of his career.

• Central Christian College’s highlight came near the end of the year as the Lady Tiger soccer team made it to nationals, finishing in the Top 4. Central won only five games in 2014, but had an amazing turnaround with 20 wins in 2015.

• The Moundridge softball team advanced to the Class 2-1A semifinals before finishing fourth.

• The McPherson High boys soccer team advanced to the regional finals before losing to Wichita Trinity, but still finished with a sparkling 14-4 season. 

• The McPherson High football team turned in a winning season under first-year coach Jace Pavlovich, winning at Hays on the final night of the season to finish 5-4. The highlight was a season-opening 14-7 victory over Class 5A’s No. 3-ranked team, Salina South. Injuries decimated the team, but because of that many underclassmen were able to play key minutes in anticipation of a big 2016 season. MHS missed out on the state playoffs for the first time since 2005, though the teams that advanced from its district were 9-0 Buhler and 8-1 Abilene.

The summer produced a few highlights as well.

• The McPherson American Legion baseball program had an historic year. The Senior Legion — which had won the Junior title the year before — made it to the state finals before losing back-to-back games to Ottawa, which was coached by McPherson High graduate Brian Long.

• The Junior Legion wound up taking third place as it made a fine charge at the end of the year. With the depth of the two programs, the Bullpup baseball team should be in good shape for the next few years.

• It was an amazing summer for Treg Fawl on the local golfing scene. Fawl won his fifth straight McPherson City title and sixth singles title overall, though he had to survive a playoff with Mark Gayer. He also qualified for match play in the Kansas Amateur, putting him among the top 64 golfers in Kansas.

• Mark Wash and Daniel Mitchell, playing as a team for the first time, won the McPherson City Two-Man golf title. 

• McPherson youth Jared Nowak — currently a freshman at McPherson High — won the Saline County Open singles title, defeating 50-year-old and former champion Clarke Renfro in the finals.

• McPherson High 2015 graduate Ty Hart competed in the Shrine Bowl. He had a fine game at linebacker for the West team, which wound up losing a 21-0 decision.