BY TRAVIS DAVID
PALMYRA — It wasn’t the end of the world, but not qualifying for the state championships as a junior did not sit well with Kaden Crane.
The Palmyra grappler advanced to the Class 1 state meet as a freshman and sophomore before having a letdown at the district meet last season.
The only letdown on Saturday was having to wrestle for a full six minutes in both his semifinal and championship round of the sectional.
Crane picked up a pin and two wins by decision on his way to a sectional championship in the 106-pound bracket.
The Palmyra senior was one of six Panthers to place in the top three to earn a berth into the Class 1 State Championships at Cable Dahner Arena on March 10.
Crane will be joined by teammates Brayden Stevens, Collin Arch, Hayes Miller, Nolyn Richards and Luke Triplett.
“Everyone who made it, we kind of expected that from them,” Crane said of his teammates. “All those guys have been dominant all season so they all were ready for this.”
Crane entered the day with a 17-3 mark on the season after winning his second district championship two weekends ago. The senior hardly broke a sweat in his opening-round match as he moved into the semifinals with a 22-second pin.
In the semifinals, Crane picked up a 6-3 win. He registered a takedown in the first period and a reversal in both the second and third.
His finals matchup against Centralia’s Weston Ward looked to be a lot like his first-round match. Crane picked up a quick two on a takedown and dumped Ward on his back for a quick two-count for two more near-fall points. The period ended with Ward fighting off a pinfall and a 7-0 lead for Crane.
The final two periods would be a battle as Crane held on for an 8-3 win.
“I can’t just go out there expecting a first-period win all the time,” the Panther senior said. “I kind of just coasted the rest of the match so I have to work on that.
“But wrestling all three periods in those last two matches will help me better prepare for the state meet because it shows me what I need to work on.”
Stevens turned in the Panthers’ most impressive performance of the day. After receiving a bye into the semifinals, the Palmyra junior needed just 60 seconds to secure a spot in the 126 finals. Stevens wasted no time taking control as he hit a double-leg takedown right off the whistle.
In the finals, the 126-pounder needed just 53 seconds to dispose of Centralia’s Zane Dubes.
With the two wins, Stevens improved to 22-5 on the season.
“Brayden came out firing on all cylinders and looking to make a statement today,” Palmyra coach Josh Buatte said. “Hopefully he can continue that at state.”
At 132, Arch continued his undefeated season. Last year’s 120-pound state champ and current No. 1 ranked grappler, improved to 17-0 on the season with a pair of wins.
Arch received a bye into the semifinals where he needed just 54 seconds for a pin.
In the finals, the sophomore earned a major decision win over Hallsville’s Gavyn Carpenter, 11-3.
Arch hit four takedowns in the win.
Richards and Triplett both came away with second-place finishes at 195 and 220, respectively.
Richards picked up a pair of first-period pins on his way to the finals, including a 33-second win in the first round.
In the championship match, the 195-pounder fell to Centralia’s Hunter Phillips in the first period.
Richards also lost to Phillips in the district championship two weeks prior.
The 2-1 day brings Richards’ record to 15-6 on the season.
Much like Richards, Triplett also coasted into the finals. The Panther junior needed just 60 seconds for a first-round win and scored another first-period pin in the semifinals.
In his championship match, Richards got caught on his back in the first period to Centralia’s Sam Lynn.
The title match was a rematch of the district championship which was won by Triplett.
Hayes Miller will be making a return trip to state as the 160 pounder scores a third period pin in the third-place match pic.twitter.com/RKNJILnlH3
— Travis David (@TDavid_21) February 27, 2021
The hardest route to the state meet was accomplished by Miller.
The Palmyra sophomore was dropped to the consolation bracket with a loss to Brentwood’s Cody Hughes in the semifinals.
In the consolations, Miller scored a pair of pins to punch his ticket to state for the second straight season. He picked up a pin with 20 seconds left in the second period of the consolation semifinals, before scoring a third-period fall in the third-place match.
“I knew that I had to wrestle my butt off those last two matches or I would be going home and my season would be over,” the sophomore said.
Crane mentioned he was most impressed with the job Miller did to reach the state meet.
“I am super proud of Hayes,” Crane said of his teammate. “Winning two blood rounds is really hard and is not the same as what everyone is used to so it was super cool to see him pull it off.”
Miller won his first match of the day, also by pin. With the three wins on the day, Miller carries a 15-7 mark into the state meet.
Grayson Stevens and Xzavier Battaglio also wrestled on Saturday but both fell short in the consolations.
In the consolation semifinals at 285, Battaglio was trailing just 2-1 in the final seconds of the match before getting caught on his back.
“He had a couple of matches he probably could have won, but he wrestled hard all day,” Buatte said of his heavyweight. “He is a kid who has worked nonstop for us these last two years.”
The boy’s Class 1 State Championships will take place on March 10.
“We would have liked to have eight guys going, but it was still a good day today,” Buatte said of his state qualifiers. “We had a good crowd here and they saw some really good wrestling today.”