Eight individuals from the region won state titles Saturday
Championship Saturday turned into a Sunday celebration for most.
Food, family, friends.
There were eight individuals from Clark County who won state wrestling titles Saturday night at Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome.
Tanner Craig of Camas and Danny Snediker of Union became two-time champions in 4A boys. Allison Blaine of Hudson’s Bay also repeated in the girls classification.
They were joined by first-time champions Gideon Malychewski of Camas; CJ Hamblin of Seton Catholic; Ashlyn Daugherty of Woodland; Krista Warren of Union; and Annabelle Helm of Union.
Oh, the Union Titans girls squad? State champions in the team category.
Clark County Today salutes them.
Here are their stories:
TANNER CRAIG, CAMAS, Class 4A 138 pounds
“I’ve been dreaming of that title for a really, really long time,” Tanner Craig said Sunday evening.
No, not state champion. He wanted to be a two-time state champion.
That’s what he accomplished Saturday night.
This year’s title had so much drama. Craig needed overtime to win in the semifinals. Then he overcame a two-point deficit to win by points in the final 15 seconds of the championship match.
“It was pretty awesome. I let out a little yell. I gave my dad a big hug, my coaches a big hug, and my mom pretty much tackled me. Some tears of joy, too. It was something I’ll never forget.”
This year’s tournament, which featured 32 athletes in each bracket — double the traditional size bracket for Mat Classic — meant tournament lasted hours longer than the norm.
“Pretty much everything was closed by the time we got out of the there,” Craig said.
Still, he found time to celebrate with family and friends.
Then he stayed the night in Tacoma and helped out with the Washington USA Wrestling event for club wrestling, also held in the Tacoma Dome the day after the high school state championships.
Sunday night, Craig took a moment to think about the end of his high school career.
“I kind of miss it,” he said. “I know I’m going to miss my teammates.”
If you missed it, Clark County Today featured Tanner Craig in the preview for state. He plans on going to the U.S. Military Academy Prep School, then wrestle at West Point in college.
DANNY SNEDIKER, Union, Class 4A 160 pounds
His arm raised again in the Tacoma Dome, Danny Snediker said he tried to look at every one of his fans in the stands. He wanted to look them in the eyes, he said, to say thank you.
He knew everyone there had his back. Not just this weekend, but his entire career. He wanted to let them know that yes, he could do it, but he couldn’t have done it without the support.
Snediker won his second consecutive state championship, ending his high school career on top.
“I’m really proud of how I started and how I finished,” Snediker said. “I always gave it 100 percent. I’ll be able to say that for the rest of my life. I’ll be able to say I did everything I could in wrestling to achieve my goals.”
Snediker had a first-round bye, a pin, a major decision, then won a decision in the semifinals before completing the perfect season with a 9-5 win in the finals.
Oh, and he and the rest of the Union boys got to stay another night in the hotel because the Union girls won the team title.
“I got to hang out and celebrate with them,” Snediker said. “We kind of pigged out a little bit. Our first share of food.”
Just a one-time thing, though. If you recall, Snediker was featured earlier this season by Clark County Today. He had to dedicate himself to a nutritious diet and work ethic in order to become a champion.
CJ HAMBLIN, Seton Catholic, Class 1A 145 pounds
Officially, on the state bracket, it will says Christopher Hamblin, a freshman from Seton Catholic, won the Class 1A state title at 145 pounds Saturday night.
He prefers to go by CJ, though.
Still, making a name for himself is not what he is about.
“First of all, all glory to God,” he said Sunday. “He’s blessed me in many ways.”
He also thanked his wrestling partners who have helped him through the years, as well as all his teammates and coaches who have believed in him.
“That’s how I won it, pretty much,” he said.
On Sunday night, he said it was cool that people were saying nice things to him, reminding him he is now a state champion. However, he did not want to make too much of it.
“It’s a great part of my life, but I have people who keep me humble and keep me on the right track so my head doesn’t blow up bigger than it is.”
He might have gained a little weight, though, in the 24 hours after winning the tournament.
“Went to Denny’s with friends and hung out with friends and family,” he said. “I had a milkshake. That was very good, especially after making weight.”
Hamblin got two pins and two major decisions on his way to the finals. There, he earned a 2-1 decision to claim the title.
Oh yeah, he also becomes the first Seton Catholic athlete to win a state championship.
“He brings so much pride to a small school,” said his coach, Damon McPherson.
GIDEON MALYCHEWSKI, Camas, Class 4A 170 pounds
Gideon Malychewski can rest easy now. It’s done. It’s over. He completed the mission.
“It feels so good. It was a very stressful week,” Malychewski said. “I had nights staying up late, just thinking about my matches and envisioning who I was going to wrestle.
“I knew I was favored to win the tournament. I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself. So many different thoughts. Good and bad thoughts. Just very overwhelming. It’s done. Very grateful that it’s finally done.”
A day after he won the state title, though, he did not feel any different.
“I will probably start feeling something in a couple of days,” Malychewski said.
He did enjoy hanging out with his older brothers and other family and friends. They celebrated with a late-night trip to Taco Bell.
On Sunday night, he had a different craving.
“Right now I’m thinking about Burgerville. Probably going to go there (Monday). Their milkshakes are expensive, but they are so, so good.”
Gideon Malychewski earned the right to pay a little extra for the good stuff. He cruised to the title with a pin, three major decisions, and then a pin in the championship match.
ANNABELLE HELM, Union, Girls 170 pounds
In a way, Annabelle Helm (and Krista Warren, too) are two-time champions. They each won individual titles Saturday and the Union Titans won the girls team title.
“Wrestling is an individual sport but also a team sport,” Helm said. “As a team, we’ve been training to be a team champion. We realized last year we could do it. We came out of nowhere (finishing second). We created this poster, with our goals. Being a team state champion. We all signed it at the bottom.
“We bonded through much of that. We’re more than just teammates. We’re a family. It wasn’t just one person. All of us were part of it.”
As far as her personal journey, Helm got two pins and two decisions on her way to the finals.
A year ago, Helm lost in semifinals. This year, she faced the same opponent in the championship, getting the decision with a takedown in overtime.
“My coach believed in me. I had to believe in myself,” Helm said.
“That moment was probably one of the best feelings in the past four years. That was my ultimate goal, to get my hand raised at the very end. I wanted it so bad. When I got it … I couldn’t believe it.”
With the team title secured, too, all Union wrestlers were invited for a big celebration. A lot of pizzas were ordered. Soda, too. That was welcome for Helm, who does not drink soda much during the season.
This is it for Helm as a high school wrestler. She is a senior. Helm said she wants to wrestle in college and study electrical engineering. So she is on the lookout for a college that offers women’s wrestling along with her desired major. That college will be getting a champion.
KRISTA WARREN, Union, Girls 140 pounds
Krista Warren had to get over a loss in order to win.
Warren’s opponent in the finals Saturday was Haley Michaelson of Bremerton, the same opponent who beat Warren earlier in the season.
“I just wasn’t ready. My mindset was kind of off,” Warren said of the previous matchup.
Warren was more than ready this time.
“I never talk to myself, but I was talking to myself before the match. ‘I can do this.’ I just believed,” Warren said. “I went out there and just wrestled, and it worked.”
“There was a lot of pressure to win,” her coach, John Godinho said. “We kept her calm all day. We told her to wrestle six minutes. After six minutes, it’s over. Wrestle hard for six minutes, and it is what it is.”
What it became was a state title for Warren.
“I don’t even know how to explain it. Everything just came crashing in all at once. I had all these flashbacks. Yes, it was my goal since freshman year but didn’t really think it was going to happen. I was on a high I can’t really explain.
“I’ve never ended a season winning. That was crazy, to end with a state title. I didn’t really know how to fathom it, I guess.”
She celebrated into the night with all Union wrestlers. Warren, as noted before, is a member of the state championship team for girls wrestling, too.
“We all hung out and ate a bunch of pizza,” Warren said. “I had five slices of Hawaiian pizza, which I don’t do, but it was really good.”
Everything tastes better when you are a champion.
Just a couple years ago, the Titans only had a few girls wrestlers. Last year, the Titans finished second in state.
“We told them, if you remain a team and stay strong, they’d have a good shot at winning,” Godinho said of this year’s squad.
All seven Titans who qualified for the dome won at least one match at Mat Classic. The team title was clinched even before Helm and Warren wrestled in their championship matches.
They are: Kayla Brosius, Alejandra Ayers, Riley Aamould, Envee Sakhoeun-Hem, Nevaeh Cassidy, Helm, and Warren.
ASHLYN DAUGHERTY, Woodland, Girls 105 pounds
A senior, she saved her best season for her final season with the Woodland Beavers.
“I still feel like I’m in a dream. It’s like not real to me that wrestling’s over,” Daugherty said Monday morning.
Daugherty became the first girl to win a state championship for Woodland.
“I feel like I set a pathway for future girls,” she said. “I’m hopeful they’ll follow in my footsteps.”
There were a lot of emotions Saturday night when her arm was raised in victory.
“Everything I had worked for for the last 11 years had finally paid off,” Daugherty said. “My coaches were all crying. I was crying, too.”
It was so much just to get over the mental obstacle of wrestling.
“Realistically, she’s always had it. This year, she was able to mentally figure things out,” said Woodland coach Jason Sanders. “I’ve never seen her quite like she was at the dome. She was a different person, full of confidence.”
Sanders credited assistant coach Theron Chicks for helping Daugherty gain her mental edge.
“She had the technique and the ability,” Sanders said. “She just needed to believe it.”
She told The Daily News of Longview: “You can do anything you set your mind do; you can achieve it.”
Daugherty opened Mat Classic with a win by injury default in the first round. She followed that with back-to-back pins. She earned a 8-2 decision in the semifinals and completed her championship run with a 6-3 victory over Othello’s Emily Mendez.
Here is the link to The Daily News’ story:
ALLISON BLAINE, Hudson’s Bay, Girls 135 pounds
A champion last year and a champion again in 2019. A junior, that means she has a shot at a three-peat.
“Of course I’ve thought about that. I’ve thought about that ever since my freshman year. My four-time (dream) was gone. Gotta work for the next best thing.”
Blaine got two pins to start her tournament, then earned a technical fall to advance to the semifinals. Closer matches awaited her. She got a 3-2 decision in the semifinals, then claimed another title with a 5-1 victory in the finals.
“I just had to make it through the six minutes,” Blaine said.
As noted, this was her second time having her arm raised in victory at the end of Mat Classic.
“It was still really amazing,” she said.
She had dinner with family Sunday night to celebrate. A big steak dinner.
Blaine told Clark County Today last month that there was no other option. She just had to repeat this season.
She started wrestling because she wanted to be like her older brother. Once she started competing in club, all she wanted to do was improve.
But she is not just a wrestler. She takes pride in being a part of Hudson’s Bay community. This past fall, she was on the cheer squad. It was something she had always wanted to try.
She supports the Eagles, and the Eagles support her.
“It’s just nice to make history,” Blaine said, becoming the first girl wrestler to win two state titles.