The best ticket in town may be to a McPherson High wrestling match.
The Bullpups almost assuredly will keep you on the edge of your seats. For pure drama, they’re the best bang for your buck.
What we’ve learned about this MHS team is that you can never count it out. In the last two duals, both being in AVCTL Division III, the Bullpups have stormed back to prevail by winning the last four matches.
The Bullpups have taken on the personality of their coach Doug Kretzer. The uber-positive Kretzer has kept the MHS program on a steady course since taking over for his mentor, Rich Settle.
Kretzer strongly emphasizes to his team that you can’t take a single second off during a 6-minute match. His team wrestles to the final whistle, and in several cases that has determined the difference between victory and defeat.
Alex Grennan, MHS’ junior 220-pounder, has been put in must-win situations in each of his last two matches. In both, Grennan has had to overcome late deficits and had he lost either match, the dual would have been lost.
At Buhler, Grennan was nearly pinned early on, but rebounded to score a pin in the final seconds. Against Winfield, Grennan had a 6-5 lead, only to see Winfield’s Garrett Gibson retaliate with two points for a 7-6 lead. However, a late move by Grennan snatched victory from defeat, 8-7.
Dylan Baldwin, at 195, found himself in a 2-2 battle with Winfield’s Ali Viravong, a very tough competitor and probable state qualifier. Baldwin scored a takedown with 3 seconds left for a 4-2 victory.
It’s that kind of effort that is the difference between victory and defeat.
Speaking of effort, 145-pounder Brice Kasting appeared to be on his way to a loss that would have counted four points for Winfield. But following the wrestle-to-the-end mantra, Kasting scored two points just before the buzzer and the Vikings thus were given only three points for the win instead of four. The way MHS wrestles this year, one point can make all the difference.
Kretzer’s team typically starts fast, as was the case against Winfield. MHS is pretty strong through 132 pounds, then struggles in the middle part of matches because it’s so young. The Bullpups were able to win the dual despite losing five straight matches, as it overcame that with four wins.
The Kretzer boys, EJ and Cole, along with Seth Morgan and Austin Eldredge, sparked the good start. The Kretzers came up with falls, while Eldredge showed why he’s the best technician on the team with a textbook technical fall. Morgan won a hard-fought, close match for three key team points.
The Bullpups are more set up to be a good dual team than a tournament team. They are competing today and Saturday in the Newton Tournament of Champions where the competition will be fierce — the best the Bullpups will see, and that’s probably including the state tournament. It’s littered with 6A and 5A championship contenders and is to wrestling what the McPherson Invitational and Mid America Classic are to basketball.
MHS’ home meets have produced relatively large and enthusiastic crowds. While the Bullpups cause their fans some anxious moments, they seemingly find a way to win. They are now 3-0 at home and still have Augusta and Rose Hill on the Auxiliary Gym docket.