Girls wrestling history to be made here Saturday

By Steve Sell
February 07, 2017
Kendall Shaw

History is going to be made here Saturday when McPherson High hosts the first-ever Kansas State Girls Wrestling Tournament.

While it’s not sanctioned by KSHSAA, it’s still the tournament that will determine the best of the best in Kansas.

The action begins at 9 a.m. McPherson’s radio station, 96.7 KBBE-FM, will be doing live updates from the tournament and break in when necessary for championship matches involving the Bullpups. Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole will spearhead the coverage with several hourly updates, so keep the radio on.

“We are very excited to be able to host this event and provide an opportunity for high school female wrestlers that they have never had before,” MHS Athletic Director Shane Backhus said. “All of the participants in Saturday's championship tournament are members of their high school wrestling teams. That means that the majority of the time they must compete against boys that have a size and strength advantage.”

Backhus said this gives girls the chance to wrestle against other girls, instead of often having to go up against boys.

“It is like having girls compete against boys in track, tennis, or swimming and always being at a disadvantage” Backhus said. “This is an opportunity for these girls to compete on a level playing field in a state championship-type atmosphere. Our goal was to get as many high school female wrestlers in Kansas to attend as possible and we hope to see it grow in the future.  (McPherson) Coach (Doug) Kretzer and others from around the state have worked hard promoting this tournament and girls wrestling in general over the past several months.”

At this point there are 35 schools who are sending competitors. Kretzer has been working tirelessly to get KSHSAA to sanction girls wrestling and it seems to be only a matter of time before it is. There has to be 24 schools in order for an event to be sanctioned.

Girls wrestling has been a dream of Kretzer’s ever since he became MHS’ coach.

“I’m really excited about the girls tournament,” he said. “I’m really excited about the progress we've made this season on the girls front. This will be the fourth girls-only tournament this season. These events will show coaches and students that girls do have the opportunity to compete against their own gender. McPherson will have the most girls of all the teams competing. We have a strong group of girls and many of them will be in the running for a Top 4 place. Our girls have been working hard all season. They are ready to show the state what is happening here in McPherson on the girls wrestling front.”

In Backhus’ 10 years as MHS Athletic Director, he’s seen girls wrestling take off and says it’s gaining in popularity as it’s now becoming more and more present at the collegiate level and it offers girls chances to continue their careers after high school.

“We have 12 girls wrestling at MHS this year, after have one or two on the team in the past,” Backhus said. “Coach Kretzer simply had a meeting for those that were interested and told them that MHS was going to be a leader in the state in promoting the sport of girls wrestling with KSHSAA and other schools. Some of those 12 girls had experience, others did not, but they all show up and work hard in practice every day for a chance to compete. We attended three tournaments with a girls division for the first time this year (McPherson JV, Burlingame and Fredonia), all of which were great experiences, but our girls are really looking forward to Saturday and being able to compete for a state championship at the first-ever girls only high school tournament in Kansas.”