If he becomes a state champ, Daron Camacho will make history. In the 27 years of the Mat Classic, there never has been a wrestler from the Seattle Public Schools system to win a state title.
When Daron Camacho warms up Friday before his first-round match at the state wrestling championships, the 195-pounder says he’ll approach it like it’s just another regular-season tournament.
He’ll wrestle high-speed. He’ll go for takedowns. He’ll be aggressive right off the whistle.
“I’m not much of a plodder,” said Camacho as he tied his bright red wrestling shoes before a recent practice at Chief Sealth High School. “I just have a job to do.”
Five teams to watch
Arlington — Crushed competitors in the Class 3A, Region 1 tournament, where five wrestlers won titles.
Curtis — The fourth-ranked Vikings upset No. 3 Lake Stevens for the 4A Region I team title in convincing fashion, 203-167, winning what is believed to be the school’s first regional crown in two decades.
Tahoma — Sending 10 to state after winning the 4A Region 3 title, including three regional champs.
Orting — Top-ranked in Class 2A with 14, including six regional champs, advancing to the Mat Classic.
Vashon Island — Sending a record 12 wrestlers to the 1A state meet and is ranked third in the state in the classification.
Wrestlers to watch
Michael Soler, Lake Stevens — The 170-pound senior is looking for his fourth consecutive state title, which would make him the only wrestler in 4A to accomplish the feat.
Emmanuel Daigbe, Kent-Meridian — Top-ranked at 195 pounds in Class 4A and a returning state champ, Daigbe, a senior, won it at 182 last season.
Derek Freitag, Kentridge — Senior won the 106-pound title at 4A last season and is top ranked at 113 pounds this season.
Chase Wickman, Vashon Island — The state’s reigning 113-pound 1A champion won the 126-pound regional title last Saturday. The senior will be going for his third state title.
Clai Quintanilla, North Central — Top-ranked junior in 3A at 126 pounds going for his third state title.
If he gets the job done, if he becomes a state champ, the third-ranked Camacho will make history. In the 27 years of the Mat Classic, there never has been a wrestler from the Seattle Public Schools system to win a state title.
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“That’s definitely been on my mind since I was a freshman,” said Camacho, a two-time Metro League and regional champion.“But you can’t ever let things seem bigger than what they are.”
Camacho has a shot. He split matches this season with the No. 2-ranked 3A wrestler out of Kennedy Catholic, Bowen McConville, and lost in overtime by two points last year to Chance Stolz of Peninsula, who is ranked No. 1.
He placed sixth at the state tournament in 2015, earning that spot after losing to eventual-champ Evan Condon of Mercer Island in the quarterfinals.
“He took me down and leg-rode me,” Camacho said, hesitantly admitting he got pinned by a taller, more technical opponent.
To get better, Camacho worked hard.
He marched back to the hotel room after the defeat against Condon and worked on his bottom game with Chief Sealth coach Maurice Dolberry.
During the summer, Camacho wrestled freestyle for the Salvation Army Thunderbirds, placing third at state in his weight class.
He played football last fall, leading the league in rushing yards, and then on weekends wrestled with his three brothers, Daven, Dustyn and Dayne, in their basement on a 10-by-10-foot mat, turning up the heat to get a tougher workout in.
If you go
Boys State Wrestling Championships
Friday, 10 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m., with finals at 5 p.m.
Day pass, $9; tournament pass, $14
The sessions lasted one to two hours with Camacho in the shark tank.
“I would be in the middle and my brothers would rotate in on me,” said Camacho.
“We just scrap and wrestle until we’re tired.”
Camacho knows what hard work looks like.
His dad, David, came from Saipan when he was in his 20s with $20 in his pocket and lived with his cousin while he worked his way through odd jobs until landing a position as a mechanic in White Center.
His mother, Effie, works the night shift at a Home Depot and attends every one of her son’s wrestling matches.
“He treats it like it’s his job and what he’s supposed to be doing,” said Dolberry. “Most kids don’t have the fortitude to put in the mental and physical commitment. It’s a sport that’s not for everyone. He has a different mentality than most teenagers do and a maturity about him in his approach to the sport.”
Camacho won’t wrestle after high school — he’s going to play football at Pima Community College in Arizona — but says his years in the sport have taught him invaluable lessons he’ll always carry with him.
He’s hoping to carry a state title home with him, too.