Senior looking to become two-time state champion
CAMAS — Tanner Craig made all the right moves at Mat Classic last year, winning a Class 4A state championship while representing the Camas Papermakers.
Few people know that his best move started a few weeks prior to the WIAA’s state wrestling tournament and ended just moments after his arm was raised in victory.
That’s when he broke the bad news to his dad.
Tanner Craig bumped into something when he was driving and put a nasty scratch on the car. He managed to keep it a secret, though. Oh, he always knew he was going to have to tell his father. He just figured if he told his dad right after winning a state title it might not matter so much.
Tanner Craig is a man with a plan.
He does not have a secret this week, though. Mat Classic begins Friday morning in the Tacoma Dome, and defending champions are no longer secrets.
Instead, he is just hoping to accomplish an objective he set years ago.
“My goal ever since I was little was not to be just a state champion. I always wanted to be a two-time state champion,” Craig said.
Just like his dad, Pat Craig, who won two Oregon state titles when he wrestled for North Bend High School.
A second title is no sure thing, though. Tanner Craig is in a tough weight class at 138 pounds. And then there is that whole target thing.
“There’s more pressure. That’s fine with me,” Craig said. “Last year I was definitely the underdog. There are lot more eyes on me this year. I can feel it, but at the same time, I ignore it.”
Plus, he thrives with pressure.
He will need to, as well, in order to succeed in his plans after high school graduation.
Craig intends to attend the U.S. Military Academy Prep School for a year, then attend West Point and wrestle for the Black Knights. From there, he will serve as an officer in the Army.
“This can open a lot of doors, provide a lot of opportunities for me,” Craig said of the academy. “It’s the best environment for me to get better.”
He went on a recruiting trip to West Point and left in awe of the history. He saw cannons that were used in the Civil War. Campus buildings looked like castles.
“Nothing like it,” he said.
Then there are the cadets.
“I met a lot of people who are a lot like me,” Craig said.
That would be focused and kind.
“People who are not out partying all week. People who want to get better. I want people to think of me as a good person, someone who helps people. Good character.”
By surrounding himself with like-minded individuals, Craig believes he will become a better man, then a better soldier and officer.
“I’m looking forward to it. I wanted to serve my country even before I (considered) West Point,” he said. “This is the perfect combination.”
School. Wrestling. Service.
“It all fits together perfectly,” he said.
With his future plans set, he also took time this week to thank those in his past and present who have guided him to where he is today.
Craig began attending Camas as a freshman. He did not know anyone. He acknowledged it was a bit lonely the first couple of months. Then wrestling season started in November.
“Camas wrestling took me in,” Craig said. “I’ve met lifelong friends here.”
There remains a lot of wrestling in Craig’s life, but this weekend will mark the end of his high school career.
“It’s weird to think about it,” he said Wednesday, just prior to another training session. “Today is our last practice, which is scary.
“I’m going to miss it.”
For results and brackets from Mat Classic, go to the WIAA’s tournament central page for state wrestling: