Defending state champ leads talented group of CHS wrestlers

Camas High School junior Elliana Sabatini plans on returning to Mat Classic this season.

Camas High School (CHS) wrestler Gideon Malychewski powers through a practice partner in the CHS wrestling room.

Camas High School sophomore Ava Weatherl advanced to Mat Classic as a freshman last season. The former ice skater says wrestling has given her self-discipline and mental focus.

Camas High School senior Colby Stoller works on his technique at an early-season practice session.

Photos by Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record Camas High School wrestler Gideon Malychewski's well-known baseball skills come in handy during a game of dodgeball in the Camas High School wrestling room. (Photos by Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

After winning the 4A state wrestling championship at 170 pounds last season, Camas High School (CHS) senior Gideon Malychewski knows that repeating will take everything he’s got.

“I want to leave a legacy,” Malychewski said after a friendly game of dodgeball, which has become a fun way for the Papermakers’ wrestlers to warm up for practice sessions. “I’ve been lifting really hard. I’ve been in the gym a lot, just working on cardio and getting bigger.”

Also returning to the CHS squad are senior Colby Stoller, who advanced to the title match in the 195-pound bracket at Mat Classic last season, and sophomore Porter Craig, whose older brother Tanner earned his second state championship last season and is currently wrestling for the prestigious West Point Military Academy.

Stoller started his wrestling season a bit late because he was busy helping the Papermakers win a state championship on the football field. Stoller said that when it comes to wrestling, he’s all in and is striving to add to his hardware by winning a state championship this winter.

“I’m going to put my pedal to the metal in practice this year and really focus all my energy on wrestling after football and hopefully win every tournament,” he said.

Another wrestler expected to go far this year is Jacques Badalado-Birdsell, who faced tough competition as a freshman and sophomore.

“I told him as a freshman and sophomore it was going to be tough for him because he was at bigger weights,” said fifth-year Papermakers coach Cory Vom Baur. “He’s strong, so I’m expecting him to really come on. His development showed on the football field, and we will see how it goes on the wrestling mat.”

CHS finished fifth in the 4A team standings at last season’s Mat Classic, marking the Papermakers’ third consecutive top-10 finish.

Girls team is young, but growing

Sophomore Ava Weatherl is focused on improving on her impressive freshman season, which ended with a trip to Mat Classic.

Weatherl, who wrestled at 110 pounds last season, started wrestling after a successful run as a figure skater, which taught her discipline and mental focus. She has fallen in love with wrestling and has become a cheerleader for the sport.

“I tell friends, ‘It’s really fun, and you create a bond that’s like family,'” she said. “I don’t think most other sports can really do that.”

Junior Elliana Sabatini competed at Mat Classic as a freshman and plans on returning to the Tacoma Dome for her junior season. Sabatini said that she’s thrilled that more and more girls are turning out for the team.

“You learn so many things about food and health and get into the best shape of your life,” she said. “You build these incredible bonds with the girls you wrestle with, and it’s pretty amazing.”

Mark Yamashida has led the CHS girls team for the past five years after 12 years of coaching the boys team at Mountain View High School. He said that girls may lack the strength that boys have, but more than make up for it with increased flexibility. Weatherl used a backbend to escape from a pin at last season’s Mat Classic, a move Yamashida has never seen a boy pull off.

“If you get them in a normal move they are able to contort their bodies to get out of it, things that boys can’t do,” Yamashida said.

Weatherl says practicing with the boys brings a higher level of intensity which she enjoys, as do a growing number of female wrestlers at CHS.

“Last year we only had a few girls turn out and this season we have like 15,” she said.