NEWTON — McPherson High School wrestling head coach Doug Kretzer calls the Tournament of Champions arguably the toughest tournament in Kansas.
Hence the name, the Tournament of Champions does not include a single weak team out of the 24 teams invited. Led by Rhett Edmonson and Austin Eldredge, the Bullpups scored 85 team points to finish in 13th place over the weekend in Newton.
Edmonson began his day by cruising to the semifinals before coming up short in his final two matches, settling for fourth place. Eldredge also suffered his first loss of the tournament in the semifinals, but rebounded in his final match of the day to secure third place.
In all, five Bullpups medaled while the rest of the team was able to see how they stack up against top-notch competition.
“This tournament prepares us by giving up a true barometer for exactly where we are in terms of matching up with the best kids in the state,” Kretzer said. “We want to find out what we need to work on and where we need to improve before the regional tournament. Wrestling the best kids in the state does this.”
The Bullpups saw big days from Luke Thompson at 170, going 3-2 for seventh. Bailey Yarborough (182) and EJ Kretzer (120) both took eighth place.
Scott Radke at 145 and Alex Grennan at 220 both went 2-2 on the day.
“Austin and Rhett continue to set the pace for our team, but Thompson, Yarborough, Radke, EJ Kretzer and Grennan are coming on strong. Our other varsity wrestlers are close too.”
The Hays Invitational on Friday should be another measuring stick tournament, with ranked teams such as Riley County, Pratt, Kapaun-Mt Carmel and Campus in attendance.
“I really like the two tournament back to back, Newton then Hays,” Kretzer said. “Usually we take our lumps in Newton, then stop up at Hays. Hopefully that trend continues. [I] can’t wait to see how we perform out at Hays.”