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News / Sports / Prep Sports

All-Region Wrestling: CJ Hamblin, Mountain View

Senior ended prep career with third state title

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: March 9, 2022, 4:50pm
4 Photos
CJ Hamblin of Mountain View, All-Region boys wrestler of the year, pauses for a portrait during practice for Askeo Mat Club at The Way Church in Vancouver on Monday, Feb. 28, 2021.
CJ Hamblin of Mountain View, All-Region boys wrestler of the year, pauses for a portrait during practice for Askeo Mat Club at The Way Church in Vancouver on Monday, Feb. 28, 2021. (Elayna Yussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

On the busy mats at a recent Askeo International Mat Club practice, wrestlers from high schoolers to kindergarteners worked on their techniques.

Among them was CJ Hamblin. One day, he hopes those youngsters will leave him in the dust.

“The people I look up to, I want to be better than them,” Hamblin said. “It’s the same thing for the young people here. I want them to be better than me.”

That’s going to be difficult.

Hamblin just completed one of the most dominant high school careers of any wrestler from Southwest Washington.

The Mountain View senior won his third state championship, claiming the Class 3A 170-pound title at Mat Classic on Feb. 19.

Hamblin became just the 98th wrestler in state history to win three state titles, losing only twice over the course of his prep career.

Hamblin is the fifth wrestler from Clark County to win three state titles. He joins Allison Blaine (Hudson’s Bay, 2018-20), Kyle Bounds (Columbia River, 2003-05), Ben Vombaur (Evergreen, 1996-98) and Bill Bradley (Camas, 1979-81).

For his accomplishments, Hamblin is The Columbian’s All-Region wrestler of the year.

Had COVID not canceled the 2021 Mat Classic, Hamblin would likely have achieved his freshman goal of winning four titles.

Yet, Hamblin isn’t asking “what if?”

“I believe I achieved everything I could,” Hamblin said. “I did what I could control. I wish I had gotten four, but that wasn’t God’s plan.”

Hamblin’s faith is a huge source of his strength. It’s part of why he has thrived despite two surgeries to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.

Like physical fitness, Hamblin believes spiritual strength is something that needs to be trained. Like any athletic pursuit, there will be setbacks.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that your faith isn’t always going to be so strong,” he said. “My pastor said, you just need a faith the size of a mustard seed.

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Whenever I’m struggling or happy, I always give glory to God, either way.”

Hamblin’s wide array of wrestling skills also allowed him to overcome any hurdles those knee injuries put up. He put techniques honed in freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments to good use in the folkstyle competition of the high school season.

Never was that dominance more on display than in the 170-pound championship match. Hamblin scored seemingly at will against Walla Walla’s Jake Humphrey, winning 17-5 in a showing even more dominant than that lopsided score.

Ending his high school career with an emphatic victory was fitting for Hamblin, whose star has consistently risen since winning his first title for Seton Catholic as a freshman.

“Never get complacent,” Hamblin said. “Never be fine with sitting in the spot you are now. Always crave to be better, even though it might be the easiest thing to sit here and say ‘I’m a one-time state champion.’ You have to crave that more and more.”

Hamblin will wrestle at Oregon State, which placed second in this year’s Pac-12 championships and qualified eight wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.

But as he looks back on his high school career, Hamblin said the state titles and the tournament victories aren’t what he cherishes most.

“I feel like it’s spending time with my teammates, whether they’re old or young,” Hamblin said. “The best time for me is when I get to hang out with them. When I’m off the wrestling mat, that’s when I have to most fun.”

The rest of the All-Region wrestling team

Ian Campbell, Kalama — The senior won the 1B/2B state title at 138 pounds. Will wrestle at Gray’s Harbor CC.

Elijah Cassidy, Union — The 4A GSHL wrestler of the year placed sixth in state while battling an injury.

Dylan Dalgord, Union — The senior placed second in state at 120 pounds. Will wrestle at Central Missouri.

Caleb Davis, Washougal — The senior placed third at 2A 113 pounds at Mat Classic. Clark County champion.

Alex Ford, Prairie — The senior won the 3A 160-pound state championship with a pin. Clark County champion.

Ethan Freund, Kelso — The junior won the 3A state title at 132 pounds, helping Kelso place 8th as a team

Henry Jones, Washougal — A regional and Clark County champion, the senior placed third in state at 220 pounds.

Noah Koyama, Union — A regional and Clark County champion, the 113-pound freshman placed third at Mat Classic.

Owen Pritchard, Skyview — A regional and Clark County champion, the sophomore placed third in state at 132 pounds.

Malachi Wallway, La Center — After a narrow loss in the 120-pound semifinals, the junior bounced back to place third in state.

Cody Wheeler, Hockinson — One point away from a perfect season. Senior overcame semifinal loss to place third at 195 pounds.