A trio of Bullpups wrestlers will take their place among the best in the state starting Friday afternoon in Salina, as the Class 4A state tournament will get underway at the Salina Bicentennial Center.
Seniors Kaden Kretzer and Ethan Fowler will be joined by junior TJ Stites in representing McPherson High School in the tournament.
"We placed in the bottom of the bracket on all three of these guys," MHS coach Doug Kretzer said. "So, they're wrestling someone that took first or second in their regional. All three of their opponents are tough."
Kaden Kretzer (24-5) will open the tournament at 120 pounds against Bonner Spring High School's DJ Ballard, a sophomore with a record of 20-11. Fowler (13-13), meanwhile, has drawn Fort Scott's Victor Hughes at 138 pounds. Hughes, a senior, has been dominate this season, amassing a record of 40-6.
Stites (22-19) will face Spring Hill junior Blake Lewis (36-12) at 145.
"The only one we haven't seen is (Ballard)," Doug Kretzer said. "In the 4A level, there are no gimmes. It's a 16 man bracket and you have to place in the top four just to go. All three of these guys that we're going to be wrestling are tough, just like we are."
In preparing for this weekend's tournament, Kretzer told his wrestlers to throw records out the window.
"You've got to show up that day," he said. "If you do show up that day, and you wrestle hard, you never know what can happen."
Kretzer feels his trio has a good chance to make it out of the first round, which has been pushed back to noon Friday due to the winter storm plaguing Kansas.
"I think that, if they can get going, if they come out of the gates, they can put themselves in a position to, hopefully, have a good tournament," Kretzer said. "The best thing they've got going for them is that they are all wrestling their best right now."
You can get updates from the state tournament by following the MHS wrestling Twitter account, @OAMWrestling.
The second round Championship quarterfinals will be held following the completion of the first round, while the first round of the consolation bracket will begin afterwards.
Saturday's session will begin at 9 a.m. with the consolation cross bracketing.