The yearly battle between the Camas and Union boys wrestling teams is always their biggest dual meet of the season and usually decides the 4A Greater St. Helens League title. That was the case once again Jan. 29, when the Titans won their eighth league title in nine years on the Papermakers’ mat in the Camas High School gymnasium, known in wrestling circles as “The Warehouse.”
Camas started out hot with early pins by sophomore Porter Craig and senior Chris Foley, giving the Papermakers a 12-0 lead. Craig, sixth in the 106-pound weight class in the latest 4A Washington Wrestling Report rankings, beat seventh-ranked Spencer Needham.
“He took me down at first, but I had my mind right because I’ve prepared for this match for weeks and weeks,” Craig said. “It was in my head that I was going to win no matter what.”
Foley’s win on Senior Night was extra special. When he started wrestling for Camas as a freshman, he weighed only 85 pounds.
“I had to wrestle at 116 and I don’t think I won a single match that season,” said Foley, who wrestles at 120 pounds and was honored before the match with his parents by his side. “Every year after that I’ve improved, winning more and more matches. This sport gave me toughness.”
Also honored was senior and reigning state champion Gideon Malychewski (160 pounds), who easily won his match over Rueben Kovalenk.
“When I was a freshman I remember looking up to all the seniors, and man, it’s all gone by so fast,” said Malychewski, who ran wind sprints immediately after his grueling three-round match.
“It’s something I do after every single match to make sure I keep up my cardio and stay ahead of my opponents,” Malychewski said.
Camas was missing junior Jacque Badolato-Birdsell, who is recovering from a deep shoulder bruise but will return to action for the postseason. He advanced to the 4A state tournament as a sophomore and hopes to place this year.
“We’ve got a lot of talent, and we should have a lot of contenders at state,” he said.
Young team continues to develop talent
The Camas boys squad is a young one; in fact, 10 of the wrestlers on the Papermakers’ junior varsity squad are freshmen. Last year Camas finished fifth in the state as a team, with four wrestlers advancing to their respective weight classes’ championship match.
Papmermakers coach Cory Vom Baur expects several of his wrestlers to advance to Mat Classic, including reigning state champion Malychewski and senior Colby Stoller, a state meet finalist last season.
“Porter Craig is wrestling extremely well, and so is junior Dominic Fijihara,” said Vom Baur said, who is also excited about the success of the Papermakers’ middle-school programs.
Camas girls edged out by Union
The Camas girls wrestling team lost to Union in a 30-28 nailbiter that went down to the last match on Jan. 29.
Papermakers wrestler Ava Weathrl, who won her match in a fall, dropped from 120 pounds to 110 pounds this season, a move that she says has helped her tremendously.
“It’s really been an exciting year,” she said. “I hope to go to state again and hopefully do well there.”
To advance to Mat Classic, Camas wrestlers will have to place third or higher in the upcoming sub-regional and regional meets.
Kenji Yamashita, a Camas assistant coach and son of head girls coach Mark Yamashita, said girls wrestling is really picking up steam.
“They just accepted girls wrestling into the NCAA Division-II and Division-III, so it’s growing rapidly right in front of our eyes,” he said.
The Papermakers have been learning from their mistakes all season and will come out on top when it matters, according to Yamashita.
“I really think they are going to peak at the right time this season,” he said.
The sub-regional tournament will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at Hudson’s Bay High School.