TMP chess team streaks to hot start
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The Thomas More Prep-Marian High School chess team is off to its fastest start in its 15-plus year history under the direction of Randy Brull.
The Monarchs will put their perfect record on the line Saturday when they travel to Wichita to take part in the Northfield School of the Liberal Arts tournament.
Following a sweep of the individual and team titles at Wichita-Independent in late October, TMP headed into the fall break unbeaten after claiming the team championship of the Concordia tournament Nov. 17.
The Monarchs also won their season opener, their own invitational in September.
TMP placed three in the top 10 at Concordia, with freshman Justyce Briney, senior Bill Wiebe and freshman Josh Stark finishing 8-9-10 with four points each. The Monarchs ran away with that team title with 15 points, more than twice as many points as runner-up Onaga (seven points).
Also at Concordia, TMP's junior high earned third-place team honors with seventh-grader Ethan Rohr scoring three points and placing ninth individually and classmate Jason Kepka finishing 16th with 1.5 points.
TMP had the same 15-point total at the Independent tourney, where the host school tied the Monarchs for first.
But TMP brought home the first-place trophy by virtue of having scored one more tiebreaker point than the Panthers.
Monarch junior Jacob Brull, Coach Brull's grandson, was that tournament's individual champion with five points, while freshman teammate Patrick Kepka also was in the top 10 at eighth with his four-point total.
Local scholars bowl teams compete
Despite losing another group of talented seniors, the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School scholars bowl team is off to a good start this season.
After finishing fourth at Natoma earlier this month with a young team, the Monarchs just before Thanksgiving reached the semifinals of the 36-team Wichita West tournament, which was divided into six pools of six each, by going 4-1 in pool play.
TMP then went 1-1 in the semifinal pool and barely missed making the championship round of four, finishing tied for fifth with an overall record of 5-2.
Hays High School also competed at the Wichita West tournament and went 1-3 in its pool and didn't make the semis.
TMP, winner of back-to-back Class 3A state championships in 2010 and 2011, accumulated a 152-20 record during that time.
The Monarchs then went 58-16 last year, including a 29-match winning streak at one time but came up short at regionals and didn't make the state tournament.
This year at Natoma, where Russell won the team title, it was the first time in six years TMP didn't win its season opener
"We had to take a lot of freshmen to Natoma because some of our older kids were involved in the (school) musical," Coach Don Hageman said. "I thought they held their own, then I felt pretty good that the team placed in the top five at Wichita West out of all those teams."
Junior Jacob Brull, one of the top chess players for TMP this year, is one of the leaders on the scholars bowl team along with classmates Rachel Becker, Justin Raynesford and Ryan Hammerschmidt and senior Ross Werth.
Next action for TMP (now 14-7 overall on the season) will be Saturday at Osborne.