The Camas High School wrestling program made history at the Pacific Coast Championships Friday and Saturday, at Mountain View High School in Vancouver.
Six Papermakers earned medals from their respective 32-man brackets to help the team finish in ninth place with 123 points. Union won the 31-school tournament with 173 points.
Rylan Thompson was the first Camas wrestler in more than a decade to reach the championship finals. The sophomore pinned Jacob Nowels, of W.F. West High School in Chehalis, and Yecity Restrepo, of Gresham, Oregon, in his first two matches Friday.
Saturday morning, Thompson pinned Mountain View’s Hayden Constable in 22 seconds to reach the semifinals. In the afternoon, Thompson slammed Kodi Walls, of Prairie, on the mat twice to win 5-3 and advance to the championship match.
In the evening, Ian Carlos, of North Salem, Oregon, took Thompson down three times. Thompson escaped twice and almost delivered a throw that could have turned the whole match around. Carlos stayed on his feet and secured a 7-2 victory. Thompson settled for second place at 132 pounds.
“I should have just ran as hard as I could at him, give that extra push and just do it, but I couldn’t,” Thompson said. “My offense wasn’t good enough, but I know I left it all on the mat.”
Thompson took seventh place at his first Pacific Coast tournament last season. To make it all the way to the finals as a sophomore is encouraging.
“I know I am good enough to beat anyone in front of me,” he said. “When I get in that position again in the finals, I’ll have that muscle memory to learn from my mistakes and hit it just right.”
Head coach Cory VomBaur said Thompson wrestled five difficult matches. His performance should not be judged by one disappointing loss.
“Chop that up to one or two takedowns, and it changes the whole dynamic of the match,” VomBaur said. “It doesn’t take anything away from the great tournament Rylan had. He’s just a great guy to have in the Camas community. He helps make our team better.”
After losing in the quarterfinals by one point, Sam Malychewski won three matches in a row to reach the consolation finals of the 170-pound bracket. The unranked sophomore from Camas beat No. 5 ranked Harlem Atwood-Fitzgerald, of Roosevelt, Oregon, 11-0 in the first round, and No. 3 ranked Treve Earhart, of Dallas, Oregon, 4-2, in the consolation semifinals. Malychewski finished in fourth place after losing to No. 4 ranked Jeff Dunagan, also from Dallas, 4-2.
“It was fun,” Malychewski said. “I gave it my all. I’m just bummed I didn’t come out on top wrestling for third. I just got to keep working hard in practice.”
Malychewski said he got a taste of what the regional and state competitions could be like.
“What pushes you is not wanting to lose,” he said. “When you’re trying to stay alive in those consolation matches, that’s really where you see who has the most fight.”
VomBaur continues to be amazed by Malychewski’s resolve.
“Samuel is the epitome of what I want in a Camas wrestler,” he said. “Words can’t say enough to describe the attitude this kid has. He’s going to be special. He has a lot of attributes that are tough to find and tough to teach.”
Dylan Ingram pinned Olympic’s Chase Becar for fifth place at 220 pounds. After losing in the quarterfinals by three points, the junior from Camas fought hard for two more victories and brought home a medal.
“I had higher goals, but it didn’t work out that way. There were some tough kids here,” Ingram said. “After winning Rose City, I might have been a little too confident. It’s a good gut check for the future.”
After losing in the second round, Camas freshman Jack Latimer won four matches in a row to finish in sixth place at 106 pounds.
“He’s got some good heart,” VomBaur said. “To lose early in this event and still medal is tough for a lot of kids to do. To do it as a freshman is pretty remarkable.”
Michael Strickland reached the 120-pound quarterfinals for the Papermakers before suffering his first loss. He bounced back with two victories. Strickland then beat Sailhou Fatty, of Edmonds-Woodway, for seventh place.
After losing by a tiebreaker in the second round of the 285-pound bracket, Triston Groth wrestled five more matches to secure an eighth-place medal for Camas.
“The philosophy of the team is to beat the person in front of you,” VomBaur said. “We all want to win the tournament. It doesn’t happen every day, but you do still have the opportunity to push the person in front of you and get better. Our kids did that at this tournament, and that’s all you could ask for.”
Camas and Union go head-to-head Wednesday. Varsity matches begin at 7 p.m., at Camas High School.