Golden debut: Arch wins 120 pound title for Palmyra in first state tournament

February 22, 2020 | Columbia, MO: Palmyra freshman Collin Arch gets his hand raise after winning his championship match over Gallatins Ross Critten. Mathew Kirby/Courier Post
Mathew Kirby/MKirbyphotography.c
Posted: Feb. 23, 2020 12:50 am

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Coming into the Missouri Class 1 state wrestling championships, Palmyra freshman Collin Arch was the odds-on favorite to win the 120 pound bracket.

He proved why on Saturday night.

Arch won his first state title and second in Panthers program history with a 12-2 defeat of Gallatin's Ross Critten in the 120 championship match.

"It just feels great," Arch said.

In four matches over the three days of state, Arch only allowed the two points Critten scored against him, and one was on an escape with two seconds remaining in the third period.

"It was a good start to the finals," Palmyra coach Josh Buatte said. "He kind of came out and just did what he does. Wrestled the way he always does."

It was Arch's first time at the state tournament and first time in a finals match at Mizzou Arena, but he handled himself like a seasoned veteran.

"With all the theatrics and stuff that goes on here for the finals, it didn't really seem to bother him," Buatte said. "That's always a good sign."

After his victory, Arch maintained his cool demeanor.

"I expected to win a state title," Arch said.

Two other Panthers were seconds away from titles of their own. Ross Arch, Collin's older brother and last year's Class 1 145 champion, faced off with Lexington's Tyson Moore in the 152 final match. Ross and Moore were tied at 3 heading to the third period, but Ross scored an escape 14 seconds into the period to take a 4-3 advantage.

That lead held for ross until the last second, when Moore was awarded a takedown as the final buzzer sounded to earn a 5-4 victory and a state title.

"It happens, you can't dwell on it too much," Buatte said. "Things happen in these matches and that's why you wrestle them. You don't win matches on paper."

It's the second time Ross has finished as a runner-up for the Panthers. Last time Ross lost a title match as a freshman, he came back and won his first state championship as a sophomore.

Buatte wouldn't be surprised if history repeats itself in his senior season.

"He always takes things, win or lose, and learns from them," Buatte said. "I think this is a big one he will learn from."

Palmyra junior Weston King was also locked in a tight battle in the heavyweight championship against undefeated senior Caden Phillips from Macon. King and Phillips were tied at 3 at the end of the third period and went into sudden victory.

With nine seconds left in the first sudden victory period, Phillips scored a takedown and ended the match with a 5-3 victory.

"I don't think anybody pushes Caden Phillips like Weston does," Buatte said. "He is probably glad that match is over, and I know Weston would like another shot.

"Unfortunately he's not going to get that, but I think a lot of people will have something to look forward to seeing Weston next year."

Collin Arch would have preferred to celebrate three state titles with his brother and teammate, but he knows there's one more chance to do that again.

"We can only get better from here," Collin said.

His coach wouldn't be shocked if the trio is right back at Mizzou Arena a year from now, either.

"I think all of them have the potential to be back here next year," Buatte said.

The Panthers finished in fifth as a team with 83 points. After a 45-0 freshman campaign, Collin has the rare opportunity ahead of him to be a four-time state gold medalist. He wants to bring his teammates along for that ride, too.

"Our team is just getting started, too," Collin said. "Hopefully we can win a team state title too before I graduate."