The stage was set for a breakthrough moment for the Thomas More Prep-Marian boys soccer team.
Not only did TMP have the opportunity to punch a ticket to the state semifinals for the first time in program history, but the Monarchs had the chance do so in front of a strong home crowd at Fort Hays State University Soccer Stadium.
The Monarchs didn’t let the moment pass them by, using a Logan Shaw goal early in the second half to edge Topeka-Hayden 1-0 in the Class 4-1A state quarterfinals on Oct. 30.
“That was awesome. We’ve never had a crowd that big before, I don’t think,” Shaw said. “It was just a great feeling, putting that goal in and having all those people cheering the whole game. It really helped out. I really enjoyed it.”
The soccer team was one of several TMP squads that made postseason runs in 2018. The success of the Monarch programs is the No. 9-ranked story on The Hays Daily News sports year in review.
Perhaps benefiting from a tough regular season schedule, the Monarch soccer team picked up three postseason victories to move on to the semifinals at Piper High School. The Monarchs took fourth in Class 4-1A after falling to Miege in the semis and Kansas City Christian in the consolation match.
TMP boys soccer coach Shea Koerner said it was encouraging to see the support TMP garnered for the quarterfinal match against Hayden.
“Our numbers were a little down this year and something like this really kind of shows the community how big soccer can be,” Koerner said. “Yeah, we can pack the stands for Friday night for football, but we can also pack the stands for a soccer game, too.”
Arguably the most successful sport for TMP in 2018 was the Monarch baseball team, which went 23-2 and finished runner-up in Class 3A.
The Monarchs opened the state tournament in Manhattan with a 5-2 win over Wellsville on a three-run walkoff home run from Chase Werth, who then threw a complete-game two-hitter against Riley County in the semis to help send TMP to the title game.
The run ended in the final with a 10-5 loss to Sabetha.
After the game, then TMP baseball coach Dusty Washburn, who recently joined the Fort Hays State University baseball coaching staff as an assistant, told the Monarchs to “walk away with their heads held high. It was a great season."
The Monarch baseball team will be guided this season by Aaron Breit, who was an assistant under Washburn.
It was another strong year for the TMP basketball teams, with both the boys and girls teams earning state berths.
Led by senior Kayla Vitztum, the Monarch girls went 22-4 on the season and took fourth in the Class 3A tournament in Hutchinson.
The TMP boys also made state for what turned out to be the final season of Joe Hertel's 33-year coaching career with the Monarchs. Hertel accumulated a 467-274 record, taking the Monarchs to the state tournament last season for the ninth time in his career with state championships in 2005 and 2007.
Bill Meagher was named head coach for the TMP boys this year after serving as an assistant for the Monarchs since 2011.
The TMP girls cross country team took second at the Class 3A state meet in Lawrence, paced by a 17th-place showing for Grace Pope.
The Monarch girls and boys golf teams also advanced to the state. TMP girls golfer Shannen Chin followed up her state championship in 2017 with another strong season, winning several tournaments and placing fourth at state as a senior.
The TMP girls soccer and softball teams also made runs to state, while the TMP track and field team sent 13 athletes to the state meet in Wichita, highlighted by a second-place finish from Savannah Yost in the high jump.
David Bowen took over the TMP football program, guiding the Monarchs to a 3-6 mark in his first season.