The McPherson High School Boys Swim Team capped off their amazing season with yet another record setting, and this time historic performance at the State Championship Meet in Topeka over the weekend.
The 200 Free Relay team of William Powers, Dawson VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, and Justus Hampton won McPherson High School their first ever State Championship race. They reset their own school record in both preliminaries and finals, and nearly broke the state record that was set just last year.
“This was one of the most amazing weekends of swimming that I’ve ever been a part of,” head coach Matt Morrow said, “the energy was just amazing.”
The 200 Medley relay team of Simon Steinert, Matthew Powers, Zach LeBlanc, and Rhys Vanderhoof got things rolling by grabbing the 16 spot and earned B finals where they would finish 15th overall on Saturday.
That was followed by Matt Powers cutting 4.45 seconds on the 200 Free which was good for 13th and B finals, where he would hold his spot on Saturday. On the 200 IM, Silas Steinert cut 3.62 to also earn a spot in B finals at 14th, while Rhys Vanderhoof had his personal best with a 4.15 drop.
The 50 Free was next and the records started to fall. Dawson VanGoethem swam in the 2nd heat and broke Derek Goodson’s school record by going 21.94. Will Powers came up in the heat after and reset the record again at 21.47, giving Will the 4 seed in A finals on Saturday. For Dawson, he tied for 8th place, meaning a swim-off had to be held to determine who made A finals and who made B. Dawson would drop his time again, to 21.87, but unfortunately lose the swim-off to Maize swimmer Rielly Bannon, giving him the 9 seed in B finals. Will would ultimately hold the 4 spot on Saturday, while Dawson took 10th overall in the event.
Justus Hampton got his individual events going with the 100 Fly by yet again resetting his own school record and taking the 8 spot for finals, which he would hold on Saturday. Meanwhile Zach LeBlanc, would set his personal best with 3.52 cut and earn a spot in B finals, where he would wind up 14th, taking another .38 off his time. Rhys Vanderhoof broke the minute mark for the first time on his Friday swim in the event with a 1.56 cut.
William Powers followed up his 50 Free performance by taking the 2 seed on the 100 Free, while Dawson VanGoethem solidly grabbed a spot in A finals with his first ever sub-50 time and the 7 seed. In finals Will broke another of Goodson’s school records by going 46.8 and taking the silver medal in the event, while Dawson would bump up to 6th place and cutting another .73 off his time.
The 500 Free saw another record fall, as for the second time that day Justus Hampton broke his own record with a 5.93 cut to 4:51.27 and securing the 3rd seed for A finals on Saturday. He would hold that position and take the bronze. Matt Powers followed up with a massive 11.58 time drop off of his personal best, and would finish with the 9th overall spot in finals.
History would then be made with the 200 Freestyle relay. “The fastest we had swam was a 1:31,” Morrow said.
On Friday, the team would shatter their record by going 1:28.8 and earn the 1 seed for A finals by almost a full second.
“I forgot how nerve wracking being the top seed was heading into finals,” Morrow said, “so I told the guys the worst thing you can do is be nervous, so be relaxed and go out and have fun with this.”
The squad would do more than hold their spot, not only securing the Bullpups first ever State Championship event winning swim, but they broke their record again, this time by .97 of a second, and miss the state record by just .05.
“I almost cried when I saw that we won,” Morrow said, “the state record would have been nice, but I couldn’t ask for more than what we did, their drive just never backs down.”
The 100 Back followed with 3 senior Bullpup swimmers competing in preliminaries: Silas and Simon Steinert, and Rece Reiman. Silas would make B finals and take 15th overall.
Last up was the 400 Freestyle Relay, where though the Pups were among the top teams, a shot at the overall title was a bit out of reach. However, the excitement was far from over as their performance would have a huge impact on the outcome of the meet.
Topeka Seaman would win the meet if they finished first or second on the 400 Freestyle relay, a finish lower than that would give the championship to Wichita Heights.
“The fastest we had swam this one was 3:24, we went 3:17 in prelims,” Morrow said of his team getting the 3 seed for A finals.
“The energy was indescribable for that race on Saturday,” Morrow continued, “I know how loud I am, and I couldn’t hear myself shout.”
Bishop Miege would win the event, but the battle for the silver between the Pups and Topeka Seaman would go down to the wire. The Pups held the lead through the first 2 legs of the relay, with Topeka then taking a slight lead on the 3rd, setting up a wild finish.
“Will had to run down Joshua Florence, who is no slouch,” Morrow said of the 4th relay leg, “Will out touched him by .03 seconds.”
The Pups finished second in the event, giving Heights the State Title, and Topeka Seaman second place. The Pups 5th overall team finish for the meet, matched last season and their best State ranking in school history.
“The Wichita Heights coach came up and shook my hand and thanked me after the meet,” Morrow continued, “I called Will ‘the dream breaker’, as that swim determined the outcome.”
Morrow credits the total team effort for the strong finish and record setting performance, and not just those who swam in Topeka. “We had guys drive up just to cheer them on, it was truly a team effort all season long,” he said.
“The best compliment was how many coaches came up to me and said it’s so much fun to watch your guys, and even the KSHAA Director said he was so impressed with our guys sportsmanship and attitude,” Morrow concluded.
Will Powers would earn First Team All State honors, Justus Hampton got Second Team All State, and Morrow was named Coach of the Year.
Full team results:
200 Medley Relay – MHS A (Simon Steinert, Matthew Powers, Zach LeBlanc, Rhys Vanderhoof) – Prelims 16) 1:48.39; Finals 15) 1:47.12
200 Freestyle – M Powers – Prelims 13) 1:52.35; Finals 13) 1:53.62
200 IM – Silas Steinert – Prelims 14) 2:09.34; Finals 14) 2:10.41
- Vanderhoof – Prelims 20) 2:14.81.
50 Freestyle – W Powers – Prelims 4) 21.47; Finals 4) 21.53
- VanGoethem – Prelims 9) 21.94; Finals 10) 22.05
100 Fly – Justus Hampton – Prelims 8) 53.12; Finals 8) 53.75
- LeBlanc – Prelims 15) 56.54; Finals 14) 56.16
- Vanderhoof – Prelims 21) 58.00
100 Freestyle – W Powers – Prelims 2) 47.44; Finals 2) 46.80
- VanGoethem – Prelims 7) 49.87; Finals 6) 49.14
500 Freestyle – Hampton – Prelims 3) 4:51.27; Finals 3) 4:54.00
- M Powers – Prelims 10) 5:10.40; Finals 9) 5:09.73
- Rece Reiman – Prelims 26) 5:39.15
200 Freestyle Relay – MHS A (W Powers, VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, Hampton) – Prelims 1) 1:28.80; Finals 1) 1:27.83
100 Backstroke – Silas Steinert – Prelims 15) 58.64; Finals 15) 59.21
- Simon Steinert – Prelims 22) 1:00.17.
- Reiman – Prelims 27) 1:02.77
400 Freestyle Relay – MHS A (Hampton, VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, W Powers) – Prelims 3) 3:17.85; Finals 2) 3:15.49.