Camacho wants to be the first O'Dea wrestler to win state. Damon hopes to be the first wrestler from Seattle Public Schools to win a state wrestling crown.

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Top-level wrestlers Dustyn Camacho and Dominic Damon know what it’s like to sit on the sidelines when there are goals to accomplish.

It’s a helpless feeling both want to bury in the past.

For Camacho, the O’Dea junior who missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in football, it’s all about bouncing back strong this season. The same goes for Damon, the Nathan Hale senior who missed the last two weeks of last season with broken metacarpal on his right hand.

Both are healthy and poised to make some history at Mat Classic XXXI on Friday and Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.

Damon, ranked No. 1 statewide in the 145-pound class by, can become the first wrestler from a Seattle Public Schools high school to win a state title.

Camacho, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and No. 2 overall among the state’s 220 pounders, has a great chance at becoming O’Dea’s first state titlist in wrestling.

Just three Metro League wrestlers over the last 30 years of Mat Classic have won state titles, led by two from Eastside Catholic’s Matt Iwicki, who won in 2013 and 2015.

“Everybody around the state kind of thinks that Metro wrestling is not very tough, and we’re trying to change that image,” said O’Dea coach Jeff Anderson, who has 28 years at the helm and 30 overall in the Irish program. “We’re working on it. … We’re trying to get people to take us seriously.”

For Camacho (24-1), it’s been a long road back, spending seven months in rehabilitation after tearing the ACL in his right knee in a 28-13 win over Garfield on Oct. 20, 2017. He returned to football in the fall.

“Walking into the wrestling room mat the first year, freshman year (winning a state title) was the only thing on my mind on Day 1,” Camacho said. “All my coaches and all my teammates told me no one has done it. I always wanted to be that guy. All my coaches told me I could be that guy.”

Camacho comes from a long line of successful wrestlers. His brother, Daron, took third at state at 195 in Class 3A for Chief Sealth as a senior in 2016. His brother, Daven, made it to state as a senior at Sealth in 2009.

“Watching (Daron) made my drive go way higher,” Camacho said. “I felt like I was on the mat when he was wrestling. I felt that loss in me. I looked him in the eye after that (semifinal) loss and told him, ‘I got it next year,’ but I didn’t get it. Hopefully, I get one this year, that’s the plan. I told him I’d get him one.”

Damon (44-1, 30 pins) broke the metacarpal bone on his ring finger of his right hand in practice shortly after winning the 138-pound title at the Metro League tournament. The Raiders’ top wrestler didn’t get back on the mat until the beginning of June, and captured the 65-kilogram Greco-Roman class in the 2018 Cadet World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, in July.

“He’s the best this program has had,” said Nathan Hale coach Rickey Richards, who is in his 18th year as Raiders’ coach.

Damon, who has Olympic aspirations, will join the Northern Michigan University Olympic Training program after graduation.

“That injury I had my junior sucked, but it wasn’t the worst thing ever, because I knew I had one more year,” Damon said. “It would be cool to be the first (Seattle Public Schools state champion). I’m confident going in. I’ve wrestled all the top guys that are going to be in my bracket and beat them all pretty good.”


Boys Mat Classic XXXI

When: Friday and Saturday.

Where: Tacoma Dome.

Follow along: @TimesPrepsMattM and @wiaawa on Twitter.

Top storylines: White River looks poised to repeat as 2A state champions, led by defending state titlists Nathan Moore (160) and Gabe Hawthorne (138). The Hornets qualified 21 male wrestlers — including girls, it’s 30 — for state. “We are a tough team, ready to fight,” WR coach Ruben Navejas said. … Mount Spokane appears loaded for a 3A state repeat effort with 17 wrestlers, but Yelm with 22 will be tough. … In 4A, Lake Stevens qualified 20 wrestlers with Kentwood (18) and Chiawana (17) close behind. … In 1B/2B, defending champ Tonasket (21) must fend off Lake Roosevelt and their 22 qualifiers. … Tahoma 138-pound sophomore Steele Starren (37-4) hopes to add another title to his résumé after taking the 126-pound class as a freshman. He faces a bracket at 138 with two other former state champions — Pasco’s Isaiah Gonzales and Camas’ Tanner Craig. Also in the 138 bracket is top-ranked and two-time state runner-up Robby Vaughn of Chiawana. … The 126-pound class in 4A has three former state champions vying for the title as well, led by top-ranked Aizayah “Maka” Yacapin of Curtis, Drew Roberts (Oregon state champion) of University (Spokane) and Xavier Eaglin of South Kitsap.

Top 5 wrestlers: Brenden Chaowanapibool, Bonney Lake, Sr. (113 in 3A, two-time state champion); Chase Tebbetts, Mead (Spokane), Sr. (132 in 4A, two-time state champion); Nate Moore, White River, Sr. (160 in 2A, two-time state champion); Frankie Almaguer, Granger, Sr. (152 in 1A, two-time state champion); Andy Aguilera, Toppenish, Sr. (170 in 2A, two-time state champion).

Favorites: 4A: Tahoma, Chiawana, Curtis, Pasco, Mead, Camas. 3A: Mount Spokane, Yelm, Kamiakin (Kennewick), Kelso, Bethel, Edmonds Woodway. 2A: Toppenish, Orting, White River, Burlington, Othello. 1A: Granger, Forks, Colville, Zillah, Deer Park, Lakeside-Nine Mile Falls. 1B/2B: Tonasket, Lake Roosevelt, Reardan, Kalama, Chewelah.

Last: Bonney Lake sophomore Yusief Lillie (113 in 3A), ranked No. 1 in’s All-Class rankings, embarks on the second leg of his mission of becoming a four-time state champion. Lillie dominated in winning the 106-pound state title in 3A last season, scoring a technical fall over Bethel’s Donnie Krissak in the final for 45-5 freshman record. Lillie is 20-0 so far this season, missing six weeks with a broken hand.