All you need to know about the respect the McPherson High boys swimming team garnered this season is that Bullpup coach Matt Morrow was named Saturday as the Class 5-1A Coach of the Year.
Often that honor goes to the coach whose team wins the state title or finishes second. The Bullpups were 10th out of 31 teams that scored.
But Morrow’s fellow coaches realized just how much success he was able to extract from his small, merry band of 14 swimmers throughout the season. Nobody did more with less.
The season left Morrow flush with excitement and emotion as the Bullpups were league champions, won two invitationals and broke school records left and right.
The Bullpups were led by senior Eric Gaeddert, who goes down with Derek Goodson as perhaps the two most decorated swimmers in MHS history. He was second-team All-State on Saturday.
“Eric capped off a fantastic four years with the ‘Pups placing 7th in the 50 free and 6th in the 100 free,” Morrow said. “Eric has made finals in both his individual events in the last three years and helped McPherson with a Top 3 finish in the 200 free relay and a school record in his freshman year. Eric's name is now on the record board at MHS for all three relays.”
The 200 freestyle relay also included Will Powers, Dawson VanGoethem and Carson Stone. Jori VanGoethem replaced Stone on the 400 freestyle team that also made the finals.
Gaeddert, however, was the team’s only senior.
“We will miss Eric next year as he has been one of the top swimmers ever to come out of MHS, but with the guys above, junior Gavin Soukup a three-time state qualifier, Silas Steinert and Rece Reiman first-time state qualifiers as sophomores, Simon Steinert who had two state consideration times along with our other swimmers, Zach LeBlanc, Isaac Rickman, Riley Shelton, Gage Stafford and Abe Walker, we hope to build on their success into next year.”
The Bullpups have been steadily climbing the state ladder as it was 26th in 2015, 19th last year and now cracked the Top 10 this year.
Morrow was honored about his coaching award, but gave all the credit to his kids.
“The 5A-1A State Coach of the Year award is really recognition by the other coaches in the state that see what great strides these swimmers have made in the last few years. I am proud to coach these young men,” he said.
Morrow is hoping the Bullpups’ success will translate into more kids going out for swimming, as MHS almost never has 20 swimmers on its roster.