Prep Wrestling

Palmyra reaching state tournament just two years into program's existence

Palmyra wrestlers Conner Roberts and Ross Arch warm up before practice at Palmyra Middle School on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. They are two of four wrestlers going to state from the Palmyra program. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 15, 2018 12:01 am

PALMYRA, Mo. -- Palmyra High School didn't even offer a wrestling program two years ago.

Now four grapplers will be making the trip this weekend to the Class 1 state tournament at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, and that significance isn't lost on the Panthers who will compete.

"It'll be historical," Palmyra sophomore Connor Roberts said.

Palmyra coach Josh Buatte said it took about four years for the program to finally get off the ground. The first wrestling team had 14 participants last year, and Roberts reached the state tournament. This year's team has 12 members.

Adding three more state-bound grapplers this year shows the program is growing at a rapid rate. Roberts (22-15) returns in the 160-pound bracket, while freshmen Ross Arch (138 pounds), Peyton Timbrook (152 pounds) and Kaden Crane (106 pounds) all wrestle in Columbia. Arch enters the state meet with a 32-1 record, while Crane is 32-11 and Timbrook is 9-8.

Getting four wrestlers to state, which begins Thursday, wasn't a surprise.

"I knew we had the potential to do it," Timbrook said. "We just had to put in the hard work."

Buatte was there to give them the extra push.

"As a wrestler, you expect that," said Buatte, who is in his second year of coaching at Palmyra after coming from Fort Zumwalt East. "Wrestlers usually aren't satisfied, and the ‘good enough' mentality doesn't work. If you want to win, you have to put the work in, and these kids all worked extremely hard. If they want more, I want more. Whatever they want, I want also."

Palmyra nearly sent three more wrestlers to state this year. Heather Risley (113), Boyd Tipplett (126) and Grayson Stevens (132) all lost bubble matches in the wrestlebacks in their respective weight classes during last week's district meet at Whitfield High School in St. Louis. One more victory for any of them, and they also would be competing at state.

The four wrestlers going to Columbia also hope this run can help spark more interest in the program and help it grow.

"It could set the tone so we can bring in more kids and more interest," Arch said. "Maybe instead of bringing in five (new) kids every year, we can bring in 10."

The youthful Panthers expect to sustain the success.

"We're just going to continue to grow," Arch said. "There's at least four or five wrestlers in the younger grades that are coming up."