Hickman’s career mark was 184-29, including 110 pins, He is a two-time CIF champion in two different weight classes, a four-time Masters qualifier, winning one title and he made three consecutive trips to the CIF State Wrestling Championships, placing sixth as a junior and fourth this season.
For all of his accomplishments, Hickman is the Star’s Wrestler of the Year.
“Matt has had an amazing high school career that I don’t believe that anyone can match,” said Camarillo High wrestling coach Ron Wilson. “What Matt has done for wrestling at Camarillo High and Ventura County will be remembered forever. When you look at all-time achievements in the county, his accomplishments would have to be close to the top.”
The only person who isn’t amazed at all that he had accomplished is Hickman himself, After starting the season with the goal of winning a state title or bust, and falling just short, Hickman summed up his season in one word, Okay.
“I worked hard and I didn’t go through the motions,” Hickman said. “I was in every match. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. State was goal all along and it’s still a big disappointment not winning,.. I feel like I should have won the tournament. But it is what it is and you can’t change it now,
“It will push me to do more on the college level and maybe the Olympic level. Maybe they will say, ‘Oh he wasn’t a state champion, but he won an NCAA Division I title or is an Olympic gold medalist.’ I’m pretty sure that would outshine a high school state championship.”
One thing Hickman is proud of his having his picture hanging on the wall of the Camarillo High wrestling room with all the other CIF champions from the school. It was one of Hick,man’s goals from the first time he walked into the Scorpions wrestling room four years ago,
“I pretty much grew up in this room,” Hickman said. “I probably spent more time in this room than any other place in my life. I learned here when you are confident and you know you can do something, that you can do it. If you know 100 percent that you can do something, you can accomplish anything.”
Hickman was seven when he found the sport. Describing himself as a somewhat chubby kid, Hickman said his father, Matt Sr., saw an ad in the newspaper for Oxnard Bengals youth wrestling club and asked him if he wanted to try it, Hickman responded by asking if he would get to hit people with chairs (like professional wrestling). Despite being told no, he agreed to check it out. It was the Bengals Wrestling Club in Oxnard.
Hickman said took a licking for the first year, but he eventually started to get the hang of things. He started placing in youth state events and strived to improve.
“He started out as a chubby, uncoordinated kid who ended up loving wrestling,” Matt Sr. said. “He got to where he was pretty proficient and would place at state tournaments, whether they were freestyle or Greco and he would be second or third. After one of those defeats he came off the mat and he was probably 10 or 11 and he was crying. I give him a big hug and said he did great and he asked why I would tell him that when he lost,
“I told him for a kid who does absolutely nothing to prepare except for practice, You roll out of bed and place in state, that’s awesome. I said think if you did a push up or a sit up or ran a little, That pushed him to show me. He trained his butt off the next year and was national champ. From that point on I have never had to say anything to him,. He’s known what the keys to success are and he’s done them.”
Wilson said he brought that same work ethic with him to the Camarillo program,
“Matt is a nice kid with a big heart and has always been coachable,” Wilson said. “He has always had the greatest respect for our coaching staff. We are trying to help develop well-rounded human beings through the sport of wrestling and he has set a great example for others to follow. He will be truly missed by our program. For me, our greatest moment was when he won CIF his junior year and all of the emotions and hard work that he had done prior to that year came out.”
If all goes well Hickman will be wrestling for the University of Nebraska next fall. As for the last four years, he said it was a blast.
“It went by so fast,” Hickman said. “I wish I could do it again.”