MCPHERSON, Kan. - Amy Fearnside, a former high school champion, collegiate All-American and current member of Team USA, came to speak Saturday morning before the third annual Kansas girls’ state wrestling tournament.
At the end of her speech, Fearnside presented an award to McPherson coach Doug Kretzer in front of all the girls and fans at the McPherson Roundhouse.
Kretzer has been highly instrumental in the growth of girls’ wrestling in Kansas, especially in the last three years. He has helped significantly increase numbers and organize the state tournament each winter.
Girls’ wrestling is currently not a KSHSAA sanctioned sport, but is in a good position to pass the Executive Board vote this spring and earn sanctioned status.
McPherson senior Mya Kretzer, who also has had a transformative impact on the growth of girls’ wrestling, was crying when her dad was honored.
“He was shedding a few years, and I think that was like really special,” Kretzer said. “He deserves it for sure. I mean, he is on the phone all the time on calls. Day and night. All the time, so I thought that was like really special. It just kind of started the day off right, and I think the momentum just kept going throughout the day.”
Then, Kretzer capped her high school career with a state championship at 126 pounds. She went 5-0 and finished the season 19-0 against girls. Kretzer captured unofficial state titles in all three tournaments with crowns at 113 in the last two years.
McPherson won the team title with 113 points, three ahead of Fort Scott. Spring Hill took third at 92, with Great Bend fourth at 76.
In addition to Kretzer, McPherson had a third-place showing at 120 pounds from Kaleigh Marbut (23-4) and second by Haley Schafer (24-2) at 138. Holli Giddings (17-9) was third at 152, and Sailor Peterson (11-13) was runner-up in the 152 ‘B’ Bracket.
Kretzer, who was 25-13 against boys last season, has competed in multiple boy meets this winter, including a 2-2 record at the prestigious Newton Tournament of Champions in January.
McPherson boys have been ranked in the top-10 in Class 5A through the year, and Kretzer is not currently on the boys’ varsity. Last year, she did compete at the Class 4A boys’ regional. However, she does not plan to compete next week at regional and said “it’s right how it is.”
“I am OK with that,” Kretzer said. “I am satisfied. I mean, I think it would cool to do it, but I think even if I did have the opportunity to wrestle, I just don’t know if that would be the right decision, because the potential of getting hurt when after this season is my season to make a statement on the national side of things.”
Kretzer, a Baker University signee and ranked ninth nationally, punctuated her career with another dominant run. She won her first two matches by fall in 50 seconds and 25 seconds.
“I think I actually proved myself a lot more, like even myself,” Kretzer said. “I kind of wrestled some girls that were actually pretty tough, and kicked their butts, so that’s pretty nice.”
She had a rare full match in a 9-0 decision against Garden City sophomore Anjelina Serrano, a solid sophomore wrestler who earned fourth place and went 8-3 this year. Coach Kretzer told his daughter that Serrano placed in a boys’ tournament earlier this year. After Mya heard that, she wanted to make a “statement” to “the rest of the state.”
“That was kind of like fun for me,” Kretzer said. ‘I think that was really awesome to be able to do that. So that was pretty special, honestly. I don’t give myself enough credit until I do things like that, and I kind of have to reflect a lot more on stuff like that.”
In the championship round robin, she defeated eventual runner-up Maritza Jimenez by fall in 2:23. Jimenez, a sophomore from Hutchinson, went 12-2 this winter. In her final match, she earned a win by fall in 2:39 versus eventual third-place finisher Shelby Kesler, a junior from Eskridge-Mission Valley who finished 12-4.
In the final match, Kretzer had her father and older brother, Kaden, an accomplished wrestler and current Bullpup assistant coach, in the matside coach’s chairs. Kretzer always receives great support, and the on-duty police officer next to the mat even cheered her on.
She had a large family gathering in the Roundhouse bleachers. Kretzer led 5-0 after the first period and doubled the advantage in the second period before the pin. Her four falls were one off the tournament lead, and her 25 points tied for tenth among all wrestlers.
After the postmatch handshake, Kretzer walked up a few rows of bleachers to meet her family. Just before she gave people hugs, Kretzer outstretched her arms in the air.
“Here’s my posse,” Kretzer said with a smile. “Glad you all are here, and thanked them.”
After some congratulations, Kretzer sat down and enjoyed some chocolate. She plans to take the next few weeks off.
“It’s unbelievable,” Kretzer said. “I am probably going to be thinking about it and reflecting on it for the next few weeks, I think. It’s just every other way I turn, I know somebody, and it’s seriously just like family. They all care about me. We could be enemies on the mat and stuff like that, but not for long. We are always cool friends and stuff like that.
“I love them all,” she added. “Honestly like every person here, coaches, families, friends, yeah, I have a lot of support, and a lot of people with me, and that’s why I chose to stay in Kansas (for college) – because I love it here.”