Fueled by an “unstoppable will” to be a state champion, “Mean Machine” Miguel Salamanca did not stop until there was nobody left to drive into the mat.
After a triple overtime victory over Sunnyside’s Josh Romero in the semifinals, it was full steam ahead. The Papermaker capped off his high school career by beating Hanford’s Matt Owens 9-7 to win the Class 3A 145-pound state championship Saturday, at Mat Classic XXIII in the Tacoma Dome.
“I always wanted to be a state champion, and it finally happened,” Salamanca said. “I worked hard in practice this week, last week and all season long for this moment. It’s a dream come true.”
Salamanca came out a little too aggressive in the championship match and ended up on his back, but he battled back with an escape and an explosive takedown to take a 3-2 lead after the first round. Salamanca started the second round on top, but Owens reversed one of his attacks to regain the lead. Unfazed, Salamanca escaped again and took control with another thunderous takedown before the end of the second round. A third escape followed by a third takedown gave the Camas High School senior a 9-4 advantage with 42 seconds to go.
“He was losing all three of his last matches, but he just had that unstoppable will to win,” said assistant coach Brody Faler. “He was not going to lose this state title.”
Salamanca’s wrestling championship is the first one for Camas since Melissa Watkins won one for the girls in 2008. The last one for the boys was her older brother Miciah in 1998.
“We’ve been knocking on the door for a good 10 years now, and Miguel Salamanca just busted it down,” Faler said. “He just paved the way for the future of Camas wrestling.”
It is also the first state champion for Glenn Hartman, since he became head coach of the program 12 years ago.
“Miguel has so much natural ability. In football, he’s out there making great plays with his speed and strength. In the mat room, he led the team by working hard,” Hartman said. “We’re really going to miss him. Not just because he’s a winner, but because he’s such a great guy.”
Tyler Weiss took seventh at 135 pounds for the Papermakers. He defeated Daniel Karpman of Hazen 3-0, and pinned Sunnyside’s Isirdo Ramirez to earn the opportunity to wrestle for a medal. After losing on Saturday morning, the junior topped Trenton Tibbetts 10-0 in his medal match.
“Making it to ‘The Dome’ is what I’ll remember most about this year,” Weiss said. “Next year, I want to win the whole thing.”
Sophomore Chris Scott beat Ian Bolstad of Shorecrest 6-3 for his only win at 285 pounds. Sophomore Taryn Lommason lost both of her matches in the 103-pound bracket of the girls tournament.
Salamanca has high hopes for the future of the Camas wrestling program. His words of advice are simple.
“If you work hard, this happens,” he said. “Hard work pays off.”