The intensity inside the Camas High School wrestling room is bursting through the seams.
Close to 70 boys and girls are ready to make an impact on the mat for the Papermakers. Head coach Cory VomBaur doesn’t have an answer for the significant boost in numbers, but he’s not complaining. He is proud of the attitude these young athletes bring into the room every day.
“Every time you step onto the mat — you tie up, you lace up your shoes — you’re going to go to war that day. Expect that and invite that,” VomBaur said. “We talk about inviting that pain and those difficult times and persevering through those times.”
Seniors Sam Malychewski and Rylan Thompson, juniors Tanner Craig, Isaac Duncan and Jack Latimer are leading that charge. Malychewski finished in fourth place at state, Thompson settled for seventh place, Craig earned eighth place, and Duncan was just one win away from a state medal.
When Latimer failed to achieve his goal of wrestling at the Tacoma Dome, he put himself through the most rigorous offseason training program he could think of. He persevered through the J Robinson 28-day intensive camp July 2 to 30, in River Falls, Wisconsin.
“I was really expecting to be a state placer last year. I was ranked high up there and I thought it would just come, and it didn’t,” Latimer said. “I was just crushed after that. It just motivated me to get better.”
What kept him going through that camp every day was a piece of paper stuck to the ceiling above his bed with the words, “Get up and train while the others are sleeping.”
“That just really motivated me to get up,” Latimer said. “Every day, I would just think about last season and not making it to state. I never want that to happen again.”
Malychewski and Thompson have been on the same journey since they were freshmen. Although wrestling is their true calling, they have also played football and baseball.
“They both have put in a lot of hard work and intensity and hours into this sport and the other sports that they do,” VomBaur said. “It’s a cool journey for them to be on.”
Malychewski and Thompson rode to football practice together and talked about what they needed to do to get better. During one game, they wore the same jersey number and worked together to score a touchdown. And they didn’t care who got the credit.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Thompson said. “If we’re going to do this, we might as well do it together.”
“Just seeing each other work hard encourages one another,” Malychewski said.
Thompson and Malychewski only see this journey ending one way – with two state titles. It’s going to take a lot of grit, but these two love to grind.
“You got to have a heart for this sport to stick through and push yourself every day,” Malychewski said.
“Don’t ever quit,” Thompson added. “That can’t even be in your vocabulary.”