Peninsula senior Michael Campigotto never won a state title in his four years of high school wrestling. But he did become the school’s first-ever four-time state placer after taking third place in the 126-pound weight class at Mat Classic XXIX over of the weekend at the Tacoma Dome.
That’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.
After his final high school match on Saturday evening, the accomplishment hadn’t yet sunk in for Campigotto.
“It’ll probably hit me next week,” he said.
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Campigotto’s inspiration this year? Watching former Peninsula wrestler Chance Stolz win a state title in 2016.
“That was one of the greatest things that happened to our wrestling program, since I’ve been in high school,” Campigotto said. “So for me to take that energy he gave the program last year and use it to cap it off with a third place was just amazing.”
Winning an individual state wrestling title, by all accounts, remains the highest accomplishment in the state that a high school wrestler can obtain during the season. But placing four times at state? That’s likely on the list, as well.
“I think it’s incredible and it just reflects how hard (Campigotto) has always worked in the room,” said Stolz, who is currently wrestling at Arizona State University. “He stayed somewhat stagnant his first three years so it was awesome to see him come out his senior year and assert his dominance. I couldn’t be more proud of an old teammate.”
And third place becomes Campigotto’s highest-placing finish in his high school career. He had to earn it, against a wrestler who had beat him just a week earlier, in Lincoln’s Jermias Sandoval. At the regional meet, Sandoval came out on top with a 6-4 decision. But this time, Campigotto didn’t let Sandoval score any easy points, winning 3-2 in an intense overtime bout.
“He beat me last week — he handled me last week,” Campigotto said. “It’s all about one week at a time. It was very tough to beat him.”
The difference was Campigotto’s shot defense.
“He got three of the same shots on me (in the last match),” Campigotto said. “That’s how he scored all six of his points. I wasn’t aggressive enough on my feet. Today, I was taking shots. I was defending what he had to shoot on me. It felt great.”
That was one of the greatest things that happened to our wrestling program, since I’ve been in high school. So for me to take that energy he gave the program last year and use it to cap it off with a third place was just amazing.
Michael Campigotto, Peninsula senior wrestler
Peninsula coach Mark Nickels marveled at Campigotto’s consistency in the state meet.
“Michael is just at home here,” Nickels said. “It’s really good to be able to see him put it together. With matches where he’s wrestled guys before and lost to them, he’s a thinker. He’s a pretty intellectual kid. He doesn’t let that weigh on his confidence. He puts it together — he’s had great tournaments at the state tournament. Even though, when you look at the win/loss record during the season, it doesn’t speak to what happens here.”
For Nickels, seeing his senior end his high school career in the top three was icing on the cake.
“I know he’s just thrilled he got on the upper end of the podium this year,” Nickels said. “That third place, you get to end on a win. I’m really proud of him. It’s a great accomplishment.”