It was a banner year for McPherson High athletics.
The Bullpups added three more state championship banners to their burgeoning total, as the school continued on its recent amazing athletic run. Since 2008, MHS has won eight state team titles.
One of those new banners, girls tennis, was hoisted during the annual Wall of Fame ceremony in December since that season already had ended. Two more state championships were won after that, girls bowling and boys basketball. Those teams will be recognized and banners raised in December. When MHS' boys basketball team won its title, the school's banner count swelled to 52.
Think about that. There are many schools in Kansas that haven't won a single state championship, let alone five or 10. McPherson has 52. That number boggles the mind.
MHS athletics once again flourished within the league. The Bullpups came away with seven AVCTL Division III championships out of the 19 sports they compete in, more than one-third.
"It has been a great year across the board from athletics to our fine arts programs," MHS Activities Director Shane Backhus said. "This is a direct result of the hard work the MHS staff puts in, and the commitment of our students, their families and the support of the community of McPherson. It starts with our youth programs and builds in middle school and high school. Success is a mind-set, never be satisfied with the status quo and always look to improve.
"We have that in McPherson, which is why we have success across our programs, not just in one area. After all the success we have experienced the past season, and celebrating what was accomplished, you can see the cycle starting over again already the past two weeks. We hosted a coach and team leader workshop the day after school got out, SPS has begun, we have kids in grades K-12 involved with camps in many areas, and our students and coaches are committed to continued success and constant improvement. It is great to be a Bullpup."
In the fall, the Bullpups won D-III championships in boys soccer and volleyball. As mentioned earlier, the girls tennis team went on to win state and boys soccer made the Final Four before taking third place. The MHS doubles team of Camry Holle and Emily Ediger won the state title to qualify for the Wall of Fame. Both will be back next year to add to their legacy.
The volleyball team was ranked No. 1 much of the year in Class 4A Division I, but was edged out on the first day at state.
MHS also again qualified for the Class 4A football playoffs, keeping Tom Young perfect during his tenure. The Bullpups have become a playoff staple, as this was their eighth straight appearance after having not made the playoffs since 1988.
In the winter, the boys basketball team won the league and went on to win the 4A state title. It will be raising a 12th banner in December, the most of any sport. Kyler Kinnamon was named All-State, All-Class first team to cement his spot on the Wall of Fame. Given his other accomplishments (he broke the MHS single-season rushing record in football), he may need two plaques as he has one more year.
The girl cagers also won the league and made state, losing in the first round to eventual state champion Miege.
What a spectacular year it was on the lanes. Both bowling teams won league titles, the girls went on to win state and the boys were a solid third.
The just-concluded spring season offered more excitement. The boys tennis team took second in the state, with twins Ryan and Peter Horton completing their magnificent athletic careers by winning the state championship in doubles and making the Wall of Fame.
Sharing the spotlight was last week’s second-place state softball finish by the D-III champion Bullpups in what was their first-ever appearance on the grand stage after 27 years of heartache.
The track and field teams, while not in the state title hunt, nevertheless scored a lot of points considering their limited number of entries. Amy Suenram secured herself a future spot on the MHS Wall of Fame by winning the state title in the long jump and has two more years, so her plaque could be filled with accomplishments.
Most of all, MHS players and coaches handled themselves with class and made the community proud. McPherson has some of the most highly respected coaches in Kansas and several future Hall of Famers. It's no wonder McPherson fans support their teams like none other.