Prep Wrestling

Panthers send trio of wrestlers to state finals

February 21, 2020 | Columbia, MO: PalmyraÕs Weston King gets hi9s hand raised and points to the Panther crowd after pinning AdrianÕs Aaron Cochran during their 285 pound semifinal match of MSHSAA State Championships. King moves on to tomorrows class 1 finals. Mathew Kirby/Courier Post
Mathew Kirby/MKirbyphotography.c
Posted: Feb. 22, 2020 1:10 am

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Three Palmyra wrestlers entered the Class 1 state semifinals at Mizzou Arena. Three Panthers walked out with spots in the state finals.

Freshman Collin Arch at 120 pounds, junior Ross Arch at 152 and junior Weston King at heavyweight all punched their tickets to the finals with two victories on Friday in the Missouri Class 1 state tournament.

King capped off a successful day with the quickest decision of the semifinal round for Palmyra. He scored a takedown on Adrian's Aaron Cochran just 31 seconds into the first round, then one minute later King pinned Cochran to earn his spot in the finals.

"I am pretty pumped, that's for sure," King said. "I don't even know what to think, honestly."

King (32-6) will wrestle for a title in his first trip to the state tournament, though Panthers coach Josh Buatte thinks King looks like an old veteran.

"For someone who didn't even qualify for state last year, he's come in and wrestled basically like he's been here before," Buatte said. "That's the big thing for him. I think having people around him and a team that pushes him and supports him the whole way helps him feel comfortable. He's just kind of at home."

King opened the day with a pin of New Madrid County Central's Herman Jackson in 3:07 in the quarterfinals. All three of his victories have been by fall.

"At first I was standing in the tunnel and I was nervous as all get out. There's a lot of people here," King said. "But once you get out on that mat and shake hands, it's like any other match out there. You've got to get out there and will your opponent until you win. Just like any other match."

King will face off with Macon's Cade Phillips (31-0) for the Class 1 heavyweight title on Saturday night.

Also making a finals match in his first state tournament is Collin Arch, who defeated Centralia's Jesse Shannon by a 15-0 technical fall in the semifinals. Collin pinned both of his first two opponents in 38 seconds or less, but Shannon refused to be pinned.

"He wrestled extremely tough," Buatte said of Collin. "He went out there and got his points and his tech fall, which is the next-best thing and fine by us.

"Making it to the finals is really all you want."

Nobody knows that more than Ross Arch. Ross earned his way to his third-straight state finals match with a 5-3 victory over Hallsville's Andrew Huddleston in the 152 semifinals. Huddleston trailed 3-2 in the final minute of the third period, but a stalling penalty on Ross with 46 seconds remaining tied the match at 3.

That didn't faze Ross, however, and with 30 seconds remaining he scored a takedown to go up 5-3 and rode out for the victory.

"I don't really worry about him. He's a gamer," Buatte said of Ross. "If you need somebody to score with a takedown or whatever with a short amount of time, he's the guy you want doing it. It was a nail-biter for some people, but he's confident and just knows what he's capable of."

Collin (44-0) will take on Gallatin's Ross Critten (45-3) in the 120 finals and Ross (40-2) will tilt with Lexington's Tyson Moore (37-1) in the 152 finals.

During both of those finals matches, the Arch brothers will have a vocal supporter in King as he gets ready to close the evening in his heavyweight final.

"I'm gonna be supporting my teammates, just like I always would be," King said. "Then I'll just do my thing."