McPherson High’s boys swimming team more often than not goes into meets with less competitors than its opponents.
The Bullpups have struggled with numbers throughout the history of their program, often having about 15 swimmers or less.
This year, the numbers are up a bit. But for 2017 Kansas Coach of the Year for Class 5-1A, Matt Morrow, his team is all about quality, not quantity.
The Bullpups, 10th in the state last year, no doubt raised a lot of eyebrows throughout the state on Thursday with their overwhelming performance in the Newton Invitational.
Morrow thought his team would be in the hunt, but not even he could have imagined the Bullpups’ dominating performance.
They won eight events and scored a whopping 386 points, burying the competition. Andover Central scored 245 for second and Newton, normally a power, managed only 157. Hutchinson rounded up the top half with 140. Winfield, Andover, Dodge City and El Dorado were in the field as well, so it wasn’t like MHS dominated the Little Sisters of the Poor.
A barometer of MHS’ quality was the very first race of the day when it finished first and third in the 200 medley relay and both of those teams met state-qualifying standards. It’s a rarity when the second team is good enough to qualify for state and Morrow will have a decision to make at the end of the season how he wants to set things up as only one of the teams can compete.
MHS won all three relay events, with the 400 freestyle relay team qualifying for state as well.
Individually, MHS’ Dawson VanGoethem, Justus Hampton and Will Powers all qualified for state in two events.
Given how close some of the other swimmers were to reaching state standards, it appears the Bullpups are going to take much of their team to Topeka at the end of the year in an attempt to finish in the Top 5.
Like other MHS sports teams, the boys swimming team has scheduled up. It will have a huge meet Saturday at Maize (the possible Class 5-1A state champion) and then goes to Topeka on Tuesday, with the field loaded with quality 6A and 5A teams.
The Bullpups practice at the YMCA and there is no place for diving, as they just don’t enter any competitors in that event. And there’s also no place for MHS to have a home meet, so they are the true meaning of “road warriors.”
I’ve been to Bullpup practices before and these swimmers put in exhaustive time as they constantly work on building endurance. They remind me of the cross country team, as they have great work ethic, but often toil in anonymity.
It will be interesting to see just how many events the Bullpups can qualify for state in as this could be one of the best seasons in school history.