Thursday night’s McPherson High-El Dorado wrestling showdown turned into a chess match for MHS coach Doug Kretzer and El Dorado coach Wes Reynolds.
Both coaches tried to maneuver their lineups to give their teams the best chance of winning the all-important dual, which figures to go a long way toward determining the AVCTL Division III champion.
In the end, Kretzer was able to say “checkmate” as the Bullpups came up with their signature win of the year with a 43-32 decision over the No. 2-ranked Wildcats before a loud crowd in the MHS Auxiliary Gym.
MHS improved to 11-2 in duals and 3-0 against D-III foes. It is scheduled to wrestle today and Saturday in Newton, though given the weather conditions it’s unclear how many teams will show up and if the meet will be completed.
The Bullpups secured the clincher when Alex Grennan pinned Caleb Clites at 220, which was yet another match that the Bullpup senior played a major role in the outcome.
“They’re a good team, a real good team,” Kretzer said. “They’ve got three kids on their team that are state runner-ups and another kid who is ranked. They kind of moved their lineup around, which didn’t surprise me. They had to do it. Obviously they were missing some kids and we were, too. We’re not going to apologize for having a full team and being deep and having the ability to move our kids around.”
El Dorado spotted MHS 12 points at the start by being open at 106 and 113, then the battle ensued.
The key was a five-match stretch where the Bullpups recorded three falls and two decisions. Pins were by Austin Eldredge, Scott Radke and Mason Thrash, while Ben Hopkins (15-7) and Luke Thompson (10-7) won by decisions.
After two losses cut into MHS’ lead, Grennan stepped up and won by a fall. MHS decided not to wrestle the last match because Kretzer didn’t want to send out a freshman against a Wildcat junior.
“We knew we wanted Grennan there (at 220),” Kretzer said. “We have the flexibility. Grennan and Lane Thompson both weighed at 220. So that’s where it was a chess match. A lot of times as a coach you don’t get the chance to make decisions like that, but we weighed six kids today at the same weight. We had two at 106, two at 120 and two at 220. That gave us the ability to move kids around where we thought it could make a difference.”
Rhett Edmonson and Landon Crews at 106 and 113, respectively, won by forfeit.
One match that might have gone unnoticed was EJ Kretzer at 120. Even though he lost to last year’s state runner-up Payton Sadowski, he didn’t lose by a fall even though it was close as he battled to avoid it. That helped with MHS’ mindset, not to mention at the time it saved the Bullpups two points.
“As tough as we are, we are extremely young,” said Kretzer, whose lineup against the Wildcats was half freshmen and sophomores. “I am really proud of this team. El Dorado is a very good team and I knew we’d have our hands full with them. We had to get out there and get ahead and then hold off their hammers. We really wrestled well tonight.”
106 — Rhett Edmonson won by forfeit
113 — Landon Crews won by forfeit
120 – EJ Kretzer lost 14-1 to Sadowski
126 — Seth Morgan lost by a fall to Knowles
132 — Tristan Prater lost by a fall to Schell
138 — Austin Eldredge won by a fall over Roberts
145 — Scott Radke won by a fall over Wernli
152 — Ben Hopkins dec. Mabe 15-7
160 — Mason Thrash won by a fall over Armijo
170 — Luke Thompson dec. Hancock 10-7
182 — Bailey Yarborough lost by a fall to Motter
195 — Alex Perkins lost 11-3 to Morgan
220 — Alex Grenan won by a fall over Clites
285 — MHS was open
• JV •
138 — Andre Patton won by a fall; Juan Escobar lost by a fall
145 — Landon Frantz won by a fall; Noah Bratcher won by a fall
152 — Jonah Clarke won by a fall; Noah Scott won by a fall
182 — Kourtney Craig won 3-1; Colton Eldredge won by a fall