McPherson High’s wrestling team has two legitimate candidates for future Wall of Fame induction this weekend in Salina.
State championships earn individuals an automatic spot on the MHS Wall after graduation and the Bullpups will have two of the Top 4 seeds in Rhett Edmonson and Austin Eldredge at 106 and 138, respectively.
Edmonson was a 4-3 winner in his regional championship match on Saturday at Buhler. He is 26-10 on the season and in a class where there doesn’t appear to be a dominant wrestler.
“Rhett really had a great tournament,” MHS coach Doug Kretzer said. “By winning regionals he is sitting in a good spot on the state bracket. He beat two really good kids at Buhler to get the job done. He's been wrestling really good all year. Throughout this season Rhett's really figured out how to wrestle at the high school level. He is a very cerebral wrestler. After each loss he's done a great job of making adjustments. He's got to take each match one at a time, but he's really setting well for this weekend.”
Eldredge, 37-3, dominated his regional and many believe if he can win in the semifinals, he’ll have another showdown with Zach Eck of Andale for the championship. The two met earlier this season with Eldredge grinding out a 5-4 decision.
“Austin was rock solid as usual,” Kretzer said of his regional performance. “He's really on a mission this season. I really feel like he's at a career peak right now. He's on the opposite side of the bracket from Eck, which is good. Like Rhett, he's got to take each match one at a time, and not look forward on the bracket. He's a senior and he is totally aware of this. Friday can't get here soon enough for him.”
For the other Bullpups, earning a medal is probably the best goal for each. Brynton Crews (15-8) at 126, Scott Radke (30-10) at 145 and Bailey Yarborough (24-9) at 182 could definitely make the Top 6 if things fall right. Crews and Yarborough have battled injuries this season, but are rounding back into form.
Here’s what Kretzer had to say about them:
“We finally got Brynton back from a shoulder injury he's been dealing with basically all season,” Kretzer said. “His win in the quarterfinals versus the Clay Center boy was the key. Brynton has the wrestling skills to make a run this weekend, but he'll have to wrestle to the best of his abilities. He's got a very tough opening match against the Andover Central boy.
“Scott and Bailey both have really come on this year,” Kretzer said. “Both of these boys wrestled fantastic to punch their ticket to state last Saturday. Before this season we knew how tough they could be, but they have both shown up time and time again with solid performances. Scott had a real grinder match in the consolation semis versus the Hays boy. That was the third time they've wrestled this year, and each match has been closer each time. Scott really invested in himself in the offseason and he's being rewarded for those efforts.
“Bailey's regional tournament really came down to his quarterfinals match Friday afternoon. With the win against the Hays boy, he really was setting great. There were three really tough kids in the 182 bracket in addition to Bailey, and once he got the quarters’ win he was set.”
Kretzer believes both Radke and Yarborough can make a deep run if they get off to good starts.
“Scott has a very tough match opening round, but win or lose I really like how the bracket sets up for him,” Kretzer said. “Bailey has a very tough bracket, but he's got a unique set of skills to really make a mess of the tournament for everyone in the bracket. I could see Bailey throwing a monkey wrench in this thing first round Friday.”
Kretzer had hoped that senior Alex Grennan would get through, but he came up a victory short.
“I really wish Alex could have made it through to state,” Kretzer said. “He's a senior, who's really paid the price over the last four years. He lost a tough match 3-1 in the consolation semis to end his career one match shy of the state tournament for the second consecutive year.”
With Grennan and Eldredge the only seniors, 2018 could be a powerhouse year for the Bullpups.
“We'll have everyone else back next year, and this weekend will be valuable experience for 2018,” Kretzer said. “We only took two seniors to the regional tournament and the future is so bright I already need sunglasses for next year!”
Friday’s action at the Bicentennial Center starts at 10 a.m. and semifinals are set for 4:30. On Saturday, consolation action starts at 9 a.m. with the consolation finals at 3:00, followed by the Championship Finals 45 minutes after the consolation finals.