Let the games begin.
Practices for basketball, wrestling and swimming begin today at McPherson High, with bowling not starting until next month because its season begins in January.
• Boys basketball — Twenty years? Really?
It’s true. Kurt Kinnamon begins his 20th year as MHS coach, during which time he has won 380 games while losing only 70, with five state titles to his credit.
The defending Class 4A Division I state champions are expected to be loaded again. Once All-State All-Class point guard Kyler Kinnamon and Spenser Wine recover from shoulder injuries, they should be a juggernaut.
Wine is definitely out and may not play until after Christmas. It is hoped Kinnamon is close to getting back on the court, maybe sometime this week.
They’ll join Drew Pyle, Nathan Nutter and Avery Gabel as top returnees from last year’s title team, while Manhattan transfer Payton Stephens averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds last year. He’ll provide a physical presence on the inside.
Coach Kinnamon has a wealth of juniors who will be trying to make an impression after filling out the middle of the roster last year. And there’s even a couple of freshmen who are knocking on the door to make the Top 12.
• Girls basketball — Chris Strathman starts his 10th year. He is 178-39 in his previous nine with a couple of state championships. He also assisted on three others under coach Scott Schaefer.
Strathman may face his most daunting rebuilding challenge. Four starters, who accounted for the bulk of the scoring, graduated. Ashtyn Schieferekce is the only returning starter.
Strathman is expecting only three seniors out, but has a good group of juniors and sophomores. There’s also a freshman or two vying for a varsity spot.
• Wrestling — Coach Doug Kretzer is expecting much improvement this year as he has most of his team back.
Headlining the returnees is Austin Eldredge, who was 29-11 last year and figures to place at state this year. Kretzer only expects three seniors for the first day of practice, as Ethan VanDorn, Ross Regier and Michael McKinney are veterans in the program.
• Swimming — Matt Morrow takes over for longtime coach Bonnie Sue Fisher and numbers will be the first order of business.
Morrow wasn’t sure how many he’d have for opening day, but does have two state returners in Spencer Steinert and Eric Gaeddert.
• Bowling — The season doesn’t start until January, but when it does the girls will be attempting to defend their state title while the boys were third at state. The girls have four bowlers with state experience, the boys two. Herb Halinski is the only coach in the history of the program, which began in 2008. The boys won a state title in that initial year.