It looked like just another day at practice Saturday when the McPherson High doubles teams of Ryan Horton-Peter Horton and Dylan Stos-Luke Williams were squaring off.
Instead, it was the semifinals of the McPherson Invitational.
The Hortons, third in Class 4A last year, received a push from their teammates before prevailing, then knocked off Salina Central’s highly touted team of Zach Hampton and Jeffery Michel in the finals, 8-6.
“That was a very good win over one of the top doubles teams in the state,” said MHS coach Tyler Brown, who saw the Hortons bounce back from a subpar performance earlier in the week to reinforce the fact they’re perhaps the team to beat in Class 4A.
With Stos and Williams coming back to get third place, the Bullpups were able to outlast the No. 1 team in Class 3-2-1A, Wichita Collegiate, 48-46 for first place, with 5A power Salina Central making it a three-team race with 42.
Other scores were Arkansas City (35), Independence (26), Hutchinson (26), Garden City (18) and Maize (17).
Brown was far more pleased with this performance than the one turned in earlier in the week at Goddard when the team got off to a slow start and could never recover to finish back in the pack. Singles players Gallagher Martin Chavez (2-2 for seventh) and Kento Aizawa (2-2 for 10th) chipped in with just enough points to allow the Bullpups to snare the victory.
“It really was a team effort,” Brown said. “Gallagher took seventh and Kento took 10th, getting edged out for that consolation match. Terrific job for a loaded singles field. And I’m proud of No. 2 doubles for getting third. Just at the Goddard spring classic, Dylan and Luke took like 23rd or something, losing three matches I felt were very winnable. So for them to beat Salina's (No.) 2's and play the Hortons tough and than beat a new but better combination of doubles in Maize after losing to two different Maize teams at Goddard made me feel like we may be starting to click.”
The Bullpups continue to play only the best available competition Tuesday when they travel to Maize, then go up against most of the top teams in the state on Saturday when they play in the Wichita Collegiate Tournament of Champions, which has an exclusive field.