BUHLER — All that stood in the way of McPherson sweeping the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division III slate was rival Buhler.

The matches that did take place were competitive, highlighted by top-ranked Sam Elliott’s win over Rhett Edmonson at 152, but McPherson filled all its weight classes while Buhler had five open spots.

The Bullpups won league with a 60-12 win over the Crusaders, giving McPherson its third AVCTL DIII title in program history.

"It hasn’t been easy getting it done," McPherson coach Doug Kretzer said about winning league. "One thing that sets this team apart is we have multiple strong seniors who should do well at the state tournament. This year we also have quality depth. We have almost 50 kids on the roster. If you’re a No. 2 for McPherson, you very well could be a No. 1 for a lot of schools."

McPherson welcomed back freshman twins Treyton and Tucker Pelnar at 106 and 113, who had both missed extended time with injuries. Treyton Pelnar won quickly with a pin in the first period to get the dual started, but Tucker Pelnar found himself in a fight with Buhler’s Drew Lugafet.

Pelnar held a 7-2 advantage entering the third period, but Lugafet fought back to make it 7-5. The match went down to the wire, but Pelnar survived to extend the McPherson lead.

"Treyton is as mentally tough as you can be. His technique and desire to win is unmatched on our team," Kretzer said. "The Lugafet kid from Buhler is a tough wrestler, and for Tucker to come back after two-and-a-half months and win, that’s a pretty big statement going into the regional tournament."

Buhler’s first win came at 126 as sophomore Trevan Sherry won by pin midway through the second period.

Jaxson Roeder gave Buhler back-to-back wins at 132. Roeder defeated McPherson’s Landon Vogts by an 8-6 margin in overtime.

"Our focus was performing as well as possible in each individual match," Buhler coach Mike Juby said. "I feel like we could have done better in some matches, but on the whole we’re still continuing to show improvement. With the exception of one senior, all of our wrestlers are either freshmen or sophomores. I’m seeing a lot of things that we are getting better at."

The match of the night came at 152 as Elliott, ranked No. 1 in 4A at 152, faced off against Edmonson — ranked third in 5A at 145. Elliott took one-point leads into the second and third periods, and created late separation in the third for a 7-3 win.

"Sam has been looking for these high-caliber matches, and lately we’ve been throwing them at him one right after another," Juby said. "He always rises to the occasion, and he’s a heck of a battler. Rhett’s a former state champion, and we knew he would give Sam everything he had. We’re obviously pleased with the result."

Elliott’s win was the last for Buhler, as Gavin Richardson (145), Devin Frantz (160), Jonah Clarke (170), and Landon Frantz (195) all won their matches.

Both teams are back in action on Feb. 21-22 for regionals. McPherson will compete at the Valley Center Regional, which features Goddard and Maize — the top-two teams in 5A.

"I think with the exception of Blue Valley Southwest, the toughest teams in 5A will be at this regional," Kretzer said. "When you talk about the tough teams at this regional, I think you have to include McPherson in that group. We’re a good team, and we’ve had a real strong run this year."

Buhler travels to Concordia for regionals. The Crusaders will see third-ranked Scott City, and Elliott will possibly see third-ranked Noah Kliesen.

"A lot of the freshmen I have wrestling varsity will not be going to regionals. As a team, we probably won’t finish very high. I’d love to see three or four of them make it to state," Juby said.