You can feel the energy surge when the big light lowers over center ring at Camas High School and every other source of illumination in the gym goes dark.
That’s the moment when all the hard work and dedication behind the Papermaker wrestling tradition is on display for everyone to enjoy.
On Jan. 9, the Camas boys wrestling team beat Skyview 56-12 in a dominating performance by a senior-heavy team that won fifth in state last season and hopes to improve on that performance this year.
The Jan. 9 match was “Senior Night,” and the Papermakers had six seniors on the mat for their special night. Many of those seniors wrestle in clubs and tournaments outside of the high school wrestling season, highlighting their commitment to the intense grind of the sport.
“We have a lot of seniors who may play other sports, but they all identify themselves as wrestlers first, so that’s a very unique thing about our team,” Cory VomBaur, Camas’ head boys wrestling coach, said.
Camas senior Jack Latimer took third at state last year and has been dominating opponents ever since. His record this year is 33-1 and his only loss has been to Ridge Lovett from Post Falls, Idaho — a young wrestler currently ranked third-best in the nation. At the Jan. 9 match, Latimer took on Skyview’s most decorated wrestler, Logan Smith, and grappled his way to a dominating 12-2 decision.
“(It was) not what I wanted,” Latimer said after the win. “I wanted a pin to show people that I can pin that guy, but he put me in some dangerous positions so it still feels good to dominate.”
The 138-pound Camas wrestler is already talking with Division I colleges.
“I’m definitely going to wrestle in college, but I haven’t made my decision yet,” Latimer said.
Camas junior Gideon Malychewski, a 170-pound wrestler, is ranked No. 1 for his weight class in the state of Washington. On Jan. 9, Malychewski pinned his Skyview opponent, Tristan Stice, in the first round, even though the match had to be stopped after Malychewski’s nose started bleeding.
“I was riding him for a few seconds, right at the start, and his head backed into my nose,” Malychewski explained.
Once the trainers stopped the bleeding, action resumed and the top-ranked wrestler quickly showed the crowd why he’s currently in the No. 1 spot.
Craig, Stoller both ranked third in state
Camas wrestlers Tanner Craig, a senior, and Colby Stoller, a junior, are both ranked third in the state.
Craig usually wrestles at 130, but moved up into the 145-pound weight class against Skyview on Jan. 9. The heavier opponent was not a problem as Craig quickly earned the fall in the first round.
“I racked up points with a few near falls and then got the pin for the team points,” Craig said. Stoller won his match in a forfeit.
Papermaker senior Isaac Duncan is currently ranked ninth in the 145-pound weight class, but wrestled at 152 pounds in the Skyview match. He picked up the victory with a decisive decision.
“I couldn’t keep him on his back or put his shoulders on the ground, but I could turn him any time I wanted, so that was nice,” Duncan said.
Camas senior Dustin Hubbard, who is ranked 10th in the state at 182 pounds, also had an easy win. Hubbard has never made it past regionals, but said he hopes to change that in his final year of high school.
“I’m focused on making it to state and placing there,”Hubbard said. “I know it won’t be an easy road because we have a lot of very good wrestlers in our region.”
VomBaur said he expected his top wrestlers would win against Skyview, but was especially proud of his second-tier wrestlers.
“They all stepped up in a big way and did very well tonight, so I was very happy about that,” VomBaur said after the Skyview match.
Camas sophomore Dominic Jujihara particularly impressed his coach.
“Jujihara did really well. I was happy with how he controlled the match more than he usually does. He really stood out to me,” Vombaur said.
The Papermakers are now grinding toward the team goal of being somewhere in the top three in the state when the season wraps up in mid-February.
“Here’s the thing: if we have a good day at state we will be there in the top three; but if we have a bad day, we could be out of the top 10,” VomBaur said.