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by Mark Cheffey
At the 1:36 mark of the Class 1, 150-pound weight class title match, the referee slammed his hand down on the mat starting a loud celebration in the stands, and ending a long-sought after goal for Collin Arch.
The PHS senior had just won his fourth-straight state title putting him into an elite class of Missouri high school wrestlers now numbering 37, who have accomplished the feat.
Arch said he felt joy when the match was over, and the referee raised his hand in triumph at the center of the mat, but then the goose bumps came when he stood on the top tier of medal podium one more time and acknowledged the ovation he received from fans, not only from his hometown but from all over the state taking note that they had seen history made.
“I just felt so appreciative to be able to have had the opportunity in the first place,” said Arch, who may have dominated in his four state matches this year, but who had to overcome numerous challenges over the four years to reach the coveted goal.
“I remember it becoming a goal while competing in junior wrestling, so it’s been a goal of mine for a long time.
“And, then when I won the first one, I knew I had to work hard and get better to reach that goal,” said Arch, who started wrestling as a five-year-old.
Still, there was much to overcome during the next three years, including moving up in weightclasses and overcoming injuries, not to mention getting through the COVID pandemic.
During much of his sophomore season there was some doubt as to whether there would be a state tournament to compete in.
But it all turned out well as he managed to get in 20 matches, most of them taking place from districts on.
And then, even though he had beaten this title opponent this year, numerous times, Arch knew it wasn’t a sure thing being just an injury away from ending the dream.
“It was a relief to get through it,” he said.
Arch said he was most happy to achieve the accomplishment in front of his family, who he credits most for his success.
His entire family was on hand including his father, Travis, who has been at mat side all through his career so far, and his brother, Ross, Palmyra’s first state wrestling champion now competing at Northern Illinois University.
“He was able to leave practice in time to get there to see me win my fourth, and that meant a lot,” Arch said.
Coming from such an athletic family — his father excelled at multiple sports at Palmyra High School, as did his mother, Jill, who has been a softball coach.
“They really helped prepare me for how to succeed,” he said, noting they would sometimes be tough with him.
“But it was all in an effort to bring the best out of me,” he said.
Arch finished his high school career with a 154-1 record with just the one loss away from high school perfection. Yet, he said he doesn’t dwell on it much especially since he completed the four titles.
The defeat came this season during the Hallsville Tournament at the hands of Carter McCallister, of Columbia Rock Bridge, someone in a higher class school but of whom he was very familiar with. The two had been mat partners in the past and are actually friends .
Arch now looks foward to his next career chapter as he joins his brother at ISU.
“It will be great to be with him on the same team again,” he said.