BY TRAVIS DAVID
INDEPENDENCE — It may not have been the ending they envisioned at the start of the season, but the end results are impressive nonetheless.
Despite having a pair of state medalists out of the lineup due to injury, the Palmyra wrestling team still managed to make history on Wednesday.
The Panthers brought home a school-record of four individual medals during the 2021 Missouri State High School Activities Association Wrestling Championships.
The record — one better than the 2020 total — was punctuated by sophomore Collin Arch’s second straight championship.
With an 11-2 major decision win over Hallsville’s Gavyn Carpenter, Arch completed his second consecutive undefeated season. Arch’s 23 wins this season run his career mark to 68-0.
With the championship, Arch became the first wrestler in program history to claim two state championships.
“My goal is to come out here and win state championships,” the sophomore said. “I treat every match the same.”
His three wins on Wednesday all came in dominating fashion. The sophomore started his title repeat with a 19-3 technical fall in the quarterfinals. Arch scored five takedowns in the win including four in the third period in which he scored 13 points.
“I just want to make sure I do not take my foot off the gas pedal,” the soft-spoken sophomore said.
In the semifinals, Arch needed just 37 seconds to dispose of Maysville freshman Brendan Barton.
And now a two-time undefeated state champion, Collin Arch.
Just another day at the office for the sophomore with an 11-2 major decision win to claim the Class 1 132 state title … pic.twitter.com/R9kJdqIp6A
— Travis David (@TDavid_21) March 11, 2021
His win in the finals marked the third time he has defeated Carpenter on the season.
The two also met in the postseason last year with Arch winning in the district finals. Carpenter placed third at the state meet last season at 120.
Arch did admit Wednesday’s tournament was a little bitter-sweet.
“I wish I could have had my brother out here with me,” he said of older brother Ross who missed the season due to an injury. “But having three other teammates here who also won medals is still a great feeling.”
With the four place winners, Palmyra finished sixth in the overall team standings.
The Panthers totaled 72.5 points — five points shy of fifth place (Lawson) and 13 points short of Fatima’s fourth-place total which was the last spot for a team trophy.
“I am just extremely excited and proud of these guys today,” Palmyra coach Josh Buatte said of his team. “All these guys had something to prove and they did that today. Even the guys who did not place today, they all wrestled really tough.”
In his third straight state meet, Brayden Stevens came home with his second state medal as he placed fourth at 126. Stevens placed fifth as a freshman.
Kaden Crane wrapped up a stellar high school career with his first state medal in his third appearance. Crane picked up a pair of wins en route to a 3rd-place finish at 106. Crane finished the season with a 22-4 mark.
In his third-place match, Crane needed just 33 seconds to secure his first state medal.
In his semi-finals loss, Crane scored an early takedown and had St. Michael the Archangel’s Lucas Berry on his back for a two-point near fall. Unfortunately, Crane was unable to hold his position and ended up getting stuck on his back.
Barry went on to win his next match to win the 106-pound state championship.
“It kind of softens the blow a little bit that he lost to the eventual state champion,” Buatte said of Crane’s loss. “I know he is not thinking like that and it still hurts, but he came out and wrestled great at the start of the match. And he came out and made a statement in his final match. That was a great way for him to go out.”
The most stressful route to a medal was accomplished by Luke Triplett. After suffering a loss in the quarterfinals at 220, Triplett rattled off three straight wins to wrap up his junior campaign with a fifth-place finish.
In the third-place match, Triplett overcame a 1-0 deficit by registering a reversal 10 seconds into the third period and rode out Centralia’s Sam Lynn for a 2-1 win. The win avenged a loss to Lynn in the sectional finals.
Triplett finishes the season with a 20-4 mark after his four wins on Wednesday.
“It’s not really what I wanted this year but it’s just what I ended up with how I performed today,” a dejected Triplett said. “It was hard having to go back and wrestle every hour after that loss.”
Hayes Miller and Nolyn Richards both competed but suffered a pair of defeats and did not place.
Miller finished the season with a 15-9 record while Richards ended his season with a record of 15-8. Both wrestlers were making their second straight state meet appearance.
Of the six state qualifiers, only Crane graduates.
Ross Arch, who became the Panthers first state medalist with a runner-up finish as a freshman and a state champion the following year is also lost to graduation. Ross placed second at the state meet last season and missed the season due to an injury suffered in football.
Weston King, also a senior who placed second at the state tournament a season ago, was lost for the season due to an injury sustained in football.
With all three state medalists returning from last year’s fifth-place team, Palmyra started this season No. 1 in the Class 1 state rankings but was not able to field a complete lineup for any meet this season.
“It’s tough any time you lose two state medalists for the season,” Buatte admitted. “But I am proud of everyone who medaled here today, those who made it but didn’t medal and everyone in the program who has helped us get to where we are.
“And now we get ready for next year which starts tomorrow.”