St. James wrestling qualifies two for state, medals one at tournament


This post is from an online student in FHSU’s Department of Informatics Convergent Media Lab course.

St. James Academy qualified two wrestlers for the Kansas class 5A/6A high school state wrestling championships that took place Friday and Saturday. Both classes competed at Hartman arena located in Park City, Kansas. 

Senior Mio Cregan (15-6) qualified at 120 lbs as a six-seed and Will Burchard (30-7) qualified at 126 lbs as a four-seed. Burchard placed fifth while Cregan fell in the heartbreak round. 

In the tournament’s first round, Burchard matched up against Cambell Denton from Bishop Carol High School. Denton defeated Burchard earlier this season at the Derby Invitational via a 14-4 major decision score. At the state tournament, Burchard won a close match with a score of 7-5, defeating Denton to advance to the quarterfinal round. After his match, Burchard discussed what it meant to him to get over that hump and battle adversity to advance. 

“Hard work pays off, and I was thinking about this match all week,” Burchard said. “I am one step closer to my goal and need to take it one step at a time.”

In the quarterfinal match, Burchard faced off against #4 Luke Potter a sophomore from Andover. This was the first matchup between the two, Burchard controlled the match from the start, securing three early takedowns to lead 6-2 in the third period. The match’s final score was 14-6 in favor of Burchard, with some last-second takedowns. Heading into the semifinal match, Burchard faced off against #1 AB Stokes a senior from Newton. All four wrestlers that reached the semifinal round secured a top-six finish in their respective weight class. 

Stokes won with a decisive fall in the second period. Burchard fought back the next day, going one and one to secure his fifth-place finish. In the consolation semifinals, he fell to third-place finisher junior Jett Schwartz from Valley Center and won over Potter again in the fifth-place match. Burchard spoke about his state tournament and what clicked for him.

“Heading into this tournament, I wanted to become a state placer. Last year I qualified for the state tournament and did not achieve my goal,” Burchard said. “I went out there and gave it my all every match because you never know when it will be your last.”

The Thunder’s other state qualifier, Cregan, is a three-time state qualifier and lost in the heartbreak round last year to become a state placer. Cregan has dealt with a lingering foot injury and was recovering from December to the week of regionals. In the first round of the state tournament, Cregan won 3-0 against junior Coulter Rieschick from Andover. In the second round, he faced off against returning state finalist senior Levi Glover from Goddard. 

Glover dominated with a fall in the second period. Cregan defeated sophomore Frankie Garcia from Bonner Springs on Saturday to advance to the heartbreak round. Cregan spoke about his feelings in the heartbreak round and his familiarity with his opponent.

“I was in this exact spot last year and knew the feeling of being in this round,” Cregan said. “I faced off against Vielhauer last week at regionals. I need to turn my nerves into confidence and walk off the mat, win or lose, knowing I gave it my all.”

However, Vielhauer defeated Cregan 5-4. At the end of the first round, Vielhauer led 2-0 after scoring the first takedown and then escaped in the third to make it 3-0 heading into the third. Cregan chose neutral and scored right away and let Vielhauer up to score another takedown. It was 4-4 with 30 seconds left, and Vielhauer scored one point after Cregan grabbed his headgear, resulting in a technical violation. Cregan shared his thoughts on the season and what he looks forward to for this program.

“It is heartbreaking, but I can only control what I can control,” Cregan said. “I will miss wrestling, but I want the best for this team in the near future. We are young, and we have leaders on this team that will turn this program around to what it used to be.”   

With a state placer added from the 2022-2023 season. The streak of a state placer starts again for the Thunder after the 14-year streak of a state placer was broken last year. Head Coach Mike Medina has high hopes for the future of this team and discusses the plans for a new wrestling room that will be home for the Thunder in the future.

“This season was a long and grueling season that had some ups and downs,” Medina said. “I am excited to see the growth of my team during the offseason, but I am also excited about our plans to have our wrestling room hopefully in the next year or two after it was built into classrooms back in 2017 at the high school.”