Even before he had ever played his first varsity match, McPherson High freshman Jarrod Nowak had earned the respect of opposing coaches.
Nowak was made the top seed in the season-opening McPherson Invitational on Monday, a tribute to his reputation built over the summer as he won the Saline County Adult Open.
Nowak didn’t disappoint in his Bullpup debut, storming to the singles championship to help MHS easily capture the team title. It scored 66 points, while Salina South won a tiebreaker from Winfield for second as both scored 42.
Newton, the No. 3 team in Class 5A but missing its top singles player, was fourth with 40 points, while the rest of the order included Derby (30), McPherson’s JV (17), Great Bend (9) and Hays (6).
Nowak lost only three games total in four matches and defeated teammate Andrew Snell 8-2 in the finals. Snell is coming off a season in which he took fourth in the state.
“He’s doing really well,” MHS coach Tyler Brown said of Nowak. “He’s going to be a good player.”
The strength of the Bullpups’ state championship team last season was its depth and that was on display again.
In addition to the 1-2 finish in singles, MHS received a doubles title from Nolan Schrader and Kento Aizawa, while the other doubles team of Kaden Stewart and Hadley Hageman took third. Schrader is a defending state champion as he combined with the graduated Gallagher Martin to win the title last year, defeating Aizawa and the graduated Luke Williams in the finals.
Schrader and Aizawa defeated the Crowe brothers of Winfield 8-5 in the finals. The Crowes, Gavin and Eli, were sixth in the state last year, and Brown said that was a quality win that will help the resume when it comes seeding time.
The Bullpup coach also was happy with the JV team, as it finished ahead of two 5A schools, Great Bend and Hays.
All its entrants went 2-2, with Jace Kinnamon and Thomas Smith playing singles, while doubles teams were Trey Hett-Price Kramer and Patrick Munsey-Lorenzo Cornelius.
“I felt the team performed very well for our first time out,” Brown said. “We finished right where I thought we would. Our seeds held true to the bracket. We had everybody in the semifinals, which was good to see.”