• TOP PLAYER TO MISS STATE — The Class 4A State Tennis Tournament on Friday and Saturday in Winfield has received a jolt.
Coffeyville’s Sayaka Smith, the 2014 state champion and 2015 runner-up in singles, will not be participating. She would have taken a 26-0 record into state.
According to Thomas Lott of The Independence Reporter, Smith had an overseas trip to Japan planned and it just happened to fall on state weekend.
That makes Topeka Hayden’s defending state champion Brooklyn Hunter the prohibitive favorite in singles. She is 19-0 on the year.
That doesn’t help McPherson High since Wichita Collegiate’s Sydney Lair now has a great shot at making the finals in singles. That would be even more team points for the Spartans, who are already the favorite.
The Bullpups are going to need to pull an upset or two and hope the Spartans suffer a surprise loss for MHS to have a shot at the team title.
• INTERESTING DYNAMIC FOR MHS SOCCER TEAM — It’s an interesting dynamic of old and young for the McPherson High boys soccer team.
Of course, the immediate image of the Bullpups is the 1-2 senior duo of Patrick Munsey and Andric McGill, who are well on their way to earning first-team league honors and possible first-team All-State affirmation.
And seniors Hadley Hageman and Tanner Rose offer more experience.
Yet, there is a youthful quality, a rarity for a team contending for a state championship.
In Tuesday’s home game against Buhler, MHS coach Chris Adrian sent out freshmen Trenton Stecklein, Drew Schrader and Britton Haig as starters, while freshmen Tyler Hoxie and Sammie Jaime made early appearances. Sophomore Austin Monroe is another young starter.
Adrian has never hesitated about playing freshmen. The best players play and these Bullpup neophytes have proven they can more than hold their own.
The Bullpups wrapped up another AVCTL championship on Tuesday by dominating Buhler, 4-1. We’re in the final third of the regular season and the Bullpups are hoping to go into postseason play on a hot streak. They do have at least two stern challenges coming up, Thursday’s road game at Valley Center and a home date Oct. 20 against Great Bend.
• MHS SPIKERS BACK ON TRACK — The sky seemingly was falling on McPherson High’s volleyball team after an uncharacteristic 4-11 stretch left the team at 16-13 on the season.
The Bullpups revived their hopes somewhat by going 4-2 in the McPherson Invitational last week, then polished off Circle and Buhler on Tuesday to earn no worse than a share of the league title.
We’ve been spoiled in recent years by the Bullpups, who have been state regulars during much of coach Christy Doile’s tenure. But the team was hit hard by graduation after last season as they lost five quality seniors, including All-Staters Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander.
Doile has had a lot of players earn their baptism by fire this year. With six wins in the last eight matches, maybe MHS is showing signs of getting back on track.
In case you’re looking ahead, the MHS sub-state at Hays includes Ulysses (21-10), Hays (13-12) and Buhler (5-24). Ulysses, however has not played near the competition as the Bullpups. If MHS plays to its potential, it should result in another trip to Salina.