Varsity Kansas

AVCTL III Moments of the Year: McPherson to Winfield, here are the league’s top feats

El Dorado’s Braden Morgan (top left), KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick (top right), Augusta’s Gracie Johnston (bottom left) and Winfield’s Owen Braungardt (bottom right)
El Dorado’s Braden Morgan (top left), KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick (top right), Augusta’s Gracie Johnston (bottom left) and Winfield’s Owen Braungardt (bottom right) The Wichita Eagle

History was made in AVCTL III in the 2018-19 school year.

Here is the top moment for each of the six league high school sports programs.

City League Moments of the Year

AVCTL I Moments of the Year

Augusta pushes through pain for softball crown

augusta high school softball gracie johnston
Augusta’s Gracie Johnston Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

A state championship seemed to be in the cards, but then Gracie Johnston injured her hip.

The Orioles’ ace pitcher, the 4A Pitcher of the Year, the two-time All-Metro selection and Augusta’s Female Athlete of the Year, Johnston pitched through it. She led the O’s back to the Class 4A state championship with a 5-2 win over rival Andale/Garden Plain.

Augusta’s state tournament run was remarkable because it almost never started. The Orioles entered as the No. 2 seed at state after beating Topeka Hayden 2-1 in their regional championship game.

Once at state, Augusta had arguably the toughest route to a title among the top seeds facing Anderson County, one-loss Clay Center and then Andale/Garden Plain, the only team to beat them. Augusta finished the season 24-1.

Buhler soccer does double with boys, girls state appearances

Buhler is a soccer school.

The Crusaders’ boys and girls teams finished in the top four in Class 4-1A this past season as the girls beat Circle 4-0 in the state quarterfinals to get top Topeka for the second time. Buhler’s Female Athlete of the Year, Alex Hutton, finished with a hat trick.

The boys’ route went through Berean Academy in the regional championship game and Winfield to get to the final four. They went one step further, beating KC Christian to finish runner-up after falling to Bishop Miege in the title game. Miege beat both Buhler teams to end their seasons.

The girls had an outstanding season at 14-5-0 with losses to Class 5A powers like Valley Center, Eisenhower and McPherson. The boys finished 16-3-2.

Circle standout drops 50 in win over McPherson

The way he hit 50 points was fitting.

With all eyes on Jude Warren at the free throw line, the Circle senior knocked it down with poise as his Thunderbirds pulled off the biggest win of the season, an 81-65 home victory over AVCTL III champion McPherson.

The Bullpups have been one of the most historically great programs in Kansas. Circle has not. Warren was one of the best players to come through Towanda, and his 50-point night was his crowning moment.

Warren was named Circle’s Male Athlete of the Year and the Class 4A first team All-State.

Wrestling for a purpose, El Dorado champ gets second title

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El Dorado wrestling’s Braden Morgan points to the sky before a bout at the Derby Invitational on Saturday. (Jan. 5, 2019) Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Six years ago, Braden Morgan lost his best friend, his dad.

Morgan has been wrestling with emotion since then and turned into one of the best in the U.S. The El Dorado senior showed why at the Class 4A state tournament with his second individual championship.

Morgan finished his dominant season at 36-2 after a 15-0 technical fall of Chapman’s Zachery Farris in the championship match. His only losses came to the Class 5A champion and runner-up.

Morgan said he wanted to quit wrestling before his dad died. Now it is a lifestyle. Morgan was named El Dorado’s Male Athlete of the Year.

McPherson’s father-daughter pair helps create sport No. 22

McPherson high school girls wrestling
McPherson’s high school girls wrestling has taken the lead on growing the sport and helped make it a Kansas state-sponsored sport. Courtesy of Mya Kretzer

Influencing or changing the game is one thing. Creating it is another.

McPherson, spearheaded by the father-daughter pair of Doug and Mya Kretzer along with athletic director Shane Backhus, helped implement a girls wrestling state championship April 26 at the KSHSAA Board of Directors meeting.

The process lasted almost eight years to grow awareness, gather data and present it to the board of directors.

McPherson has hosted an unofficial state tournament each of the past three years. Mya Kretzer won her 126-pound state championship bracket.

For Kretzer’s inspirational service as the figurehead of girls wrestling in Kansas, she was named McPherson’s Female Athlete of the Year.

Winfield wrestling comes points away from history

Campus, Winfield high school wrestling
Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Winfield has never won a state wrestling title and still hasn’t, but the Viking made school history in 2019.

Coming just 12.5 points shy of Marysville, Winfield came runner-up at the Class 4A state tournament after winning its regional tournament and league championship.

The Vikings finished with a pair of state champions in 182-pounder Owen Braungardt, Winfield’s Male Athlete of the Year, and 113-pounder Braden Ledford.

Winfield was among the most improved programs across all sports in the Wichita area, and the Vikings’ wrestling success was a massive reason. They brought 10 wrestlers to the state tournament

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.