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All-Region multi-sport male athlete of the year: Ayden Denbo, Mountain View

Senior stood out in football and wrestling

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 8, 2024, 6:05am
2 Photos
Mountain View&#039;s Ayden Denbo excelled on the wrestling mat and the football field for the Thunder. The senior was named The Columbian&#039;s All-Region multi-sport male athlete of the year on Wednesday night at the All-Region Awards Ceremony at Kiggins Theatre.
Mountain View's Ayden Denbo excelled on the wrestling mat and the football field for the Thunder. The senior was named The Columbian's All-Region multi-sport male athlete of the year on Wednesday night at the All-Region Awards Ceremony at Kiggins Theatre. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

For the first time in Ayden Denbo’s four-year career as a multi-sport athlete at Mountain View High School, the senior participated in a third sport.

Well, unofficially, anyway.

Denbo frequented the Thunder’s track and field practices this spring to get in speed work as he prepares for his next move after high school graduation Saturday: playing linebacker for NAIA Southern Oregon University.

In fact, he did everything but put on a track uniform, lace up spikes, and score points at meets.

“I didn’t compete, but I practiced,” Denbo said. “I went there every day, every other day, and just sprinted.”

Speed and strength on the football field and on the mat are factors that set Denbo, The Columbian’s multi-sport male athlete of the year, apart in his primary sports.

A two-way all-league selection in football at left guard and middle linebacker, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Denbo set the tone for the Thunder defense as the 3A Greater St. Helens League’s defensive MVP. He helped Mountain View back to the Class 3A state playoffs after another league-title campaign.

In wrestling, he earned the 3A GSHL’s wrestler of the year on his way to a 45-5 record with a school-record 34 pins. Denbo was one of 10 Clark County boys wrestlers in state-title matches when he reached the 3A 215-pound final. He finished runner-up to Mount Spokane’s Brendan Hughes, who won 3-2 with an escape and a takedown in the final period.

When reflecting on his senior year, Denbo credits the power of self-belief for how he got to where he is in both sports. Especially after grueling freshmen varsity campaigns during the COVID-19 condensed sports seasons in 2021.

“Just over the years,” Denbo said, “seeing what I can do, then believing in myself to be able to accomplish those things this year. That’s kind of how it came to fruition.”

It’s no surprise that football and wrestling go hand in hand. Wrestling’s physicality and conditioning prepped Denbo to be a two-way player and three-year starter in football, he said. Tackling opposing team’s playmakers and chasing angles on the football field is a perfect transition to wrestling, he added.

In fact, Denbo said he nearly gave up wrestling entering high school, but football is what drove his last-minute change of heart to stay on the mat.

He’s happy he did. When asked why it’s important for high school athletes to participate in more than one sport, Denbo was quick to answer.

“You’re missing out on a lot, if you don’t,” he said. “It’s always great to have an eclectic résumé. I think the more you mingle in other sports, the more it makes you better in your own sport, if you consider yourself having a main sport. I think there’s a lot to learn across varying sports that help you in life and athletics.”

Which is why Denbo was a two-sport participant all four years at Mountain View and dabbled as a three-sport standout as a senior.

Well, unofficially, anyway.

Said Denbo: “(Head track coach Bob Procive) wasn’t happy I didn’t run for him in the first place, but it still helped me.”

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