McPherson High wrestling coach Doug Kretzer knew his team needed to build a big early lead over Winfield on Senior Night here Thursday.
It did. But it wasn't big enough.
The Bullpups led 26-11 after eight matches for the AVCTL Division III championship, but once the Vikings got into their upper-weight wheelhouse they stormed back for a 47-26 victory to win the D-III title — their first in school history.
Winfield won the final six matches by falls as the Bullpups' youth showed through as they had to send out four freshmen in a row at one point against the Vikes' seniors and juniors.
"We were kind of playing with house money to be honest with you," MHS coach Doug Kretzer said. "When you send seven freshmen out there and you've got a shot to win the league title, I'm pretty proud of them. They wrestled their guts out. Those boys did everything they could. They battled their tails off."
Winfield was 5-0 in league matches and the Bullpups finished 4-1 as the schedule-maker obviously got it right.
The Bullpups looked good early as they came up with wins from Rhett Edmonson (9-3), EJ Kretzer (16-3 T-fall), Brynton Crews (fall), Austin Eldredge (fall), Landon Frantz (9-4) and Scott Radke (5-0).
But it was all Vikings after that as experience trumped youth.
"Winfield has got a good team. We knew we were going to have our hands full," Kretzer said. "We knew everything needed to go almost perfect right out of the gates and it didn't. You've got to tip your cap to them. Sometimes you have to remember the other team wants to win, too."
Winfield scored a stunning 72-0 victory over Wellington in the middle match.
• MHS 49, WELLINGTON 27 — It was a blistering start for the Bullpups in the day's opening match.
MHS reeled off eight straight victories at the outset — five by falls and one by a technical fall — to score the first 43 points before the Crusaders got into their strength to make it somewhat respectable.
Edmonson, Landon Crews, EJ Kretzer, Brynton Crews and Jonah Clarke all won by falls and Eldredge won by a technical fall, while Seth Morgan and Radke won by impressive decisions to pile up the big lead.
Eldredge's technical fall was historic as he broke the Kansas state record for career technical falls with 50, Kretzer said.
Luke Thompson later scored a fall for the Bullpups before Wellington won the final four matches by falls.
“We came out of the gates and started pretty fast,” Kretzer said. “We stepped on the gas wrestling hard. I really liked what I saw. I was really pleased with Jonah Clarke. He won a varsity spot. He chipped away, chipped away and won in a rankings match this week to take that varsity spot and responded in a big way.”
Maybe the most exciting match actually resulted in a loss for MHS. Freshman Mason Thrash at 160 took on senior Dylan Ferguson and trailed most of the way, but scored 5 points in about 20 seconds to take a brief 9-8 lead before Ferguson scored a reversal with 1 second left to take a 10-9 victory.
• Varsity •
• Vs. Wellington
106 — Rhett Edmonson won by a fall over Hancock
113 — Landon Crews won by a fall over Harriger
120 — EJ Kretzer won by a fall over Schmidt
126 — Seth Morgan dec. Redford 15-5
132 — Brynton Crews won by a fall over Bales
138 — Austin Eldredge won by technical fall over Clem
145 — Scott Radke dec. Young 12-0
152 — Jonah Clarke won by a fall over Wolf
160 — Mason Thrash lost 10-9 to Ferguson
170 — Luke Thompson won by a fall over Farley
182 — Kourtney Craig lost by a fall to Schoemann
195 — Colton Eldredge lost by a fall to Groom
220 — Lane Thompson lost by a fall to Greenlee
285 — Alex Grennan lost by a fall to McComb
• JV •
132 — Andre Patton won by a fall; lost by a fall (second match was at 138)
132 — Tristan Prater won 12-7; won by a fall
• Vs. Winfield
106 – Rhett Edmonson dec. Ray 9-3
113 — Landon Crews lost by a fall to Bissel
120 — EJ Kretzer won by technical fall over Stockton 18-3
126 — Seth Morgan lost by technical fall to Price, 17-2
132 — Brynton Crews won by a fall over Hill
138 — Austin Eldredge won by a fall over C. Daughhetee
145 — Landon Frantz dec. Smith 9-4
152 — Scott Radke dec. Morrissey, 5-0
160 — Mason Thrash lost by a fall to Landwehr
170 — Luke Thompson lost by a fall to W. Daughhetee
182 — Kourtney Craig lost by a fall to Brungardt
195 — Colton Eldredge lost by a fall to Viravong
220 — Lane Thompson lost by a fall to Gibson
285 — Alex Grennan lost by a fall to Ging
• JV •
106 — Bailey Boyett lost by a fall
106 — Hannah Moore lost by a fall
120 — Megan Manning lost by a fall
120 — Mya Kretzer lost by a fall
145 — Haley Schafer lost by a fall; lost by a fall
152 — Jonah Clarke won by a fall
152 — Ben Hopkins won by a fall
160 — Ian Alumbaugh won 18-7
160 — Michael Mendez won 11-8
182 — Gage Jarvis lost by a fall; won by a fall
220 – Shayanne Fernandez lost by a fall; lost by a fall