New leaders rise for Camas gymnastics

Camas High School senior Jasmin Karlous soars into first place on the uneven bars Saturday, at the Naydenov Gymnastics Center in Vancouver. Karlous finished in second place all-around with 34.05 points. She earned a 9.25 on the floor, a 9.0 on the bars, an 8.6 on the vault and a 7.2 on the beam.

Aches and pains are the sacrifices for glory in gymnastics. Together, Camas High School seniors Katelynne Jones and Hali Ramirez are unbreakable.

“It’s kind of cool that we get to be captains. We’ve been best friends since birth,” Jones said. “Although the program has gone through three different coaches in the last three years, the seniors have held on to each other.”

Jones, Ramirez, Emily Early and Kacee Webb rely on each other for strength. It is their turn to lead returning underclassmen Virginia Duley, Amanda Kitterman, Tamaki Murata and Rachel Rakoski, along with newcomers Jasmin Karlous and Caleigh Lofstead.

“What I love about gymnastics is that there is always something you can improve on,” Ramirez said. “You never stop working at it. You can always get better.”

Together, these girls are making Becca Cowley’s transition from assistant coach to head coach much smoother. She loves watching these girls compete through all their aches, pains and illnesses.

“[Gymnastics] is hard on the body and the mind,” Cowley said. “These girls come to practice and meets with their bodies all taped up, and they do things people with healthy bodies wouldn’t dream of doing. I’m so proud of them.”

Camas has been chasing Columbia River for years. The Papermakers came up short by seven points Saturday, but this is no longer a league meet because Camas has moved up to 4A. After starting the season with wins over Evergreen and Battle Ground, Camas must beat Skyview, Union and Heritage before qualifying for state through district and regional competitions.

“If we can take the whole team to state in our first year in 4A, that would help us stand out and be recognized for all our hard work,” Ramirez said. “Our Camas team is so close, encouraging and supportive. Even if we don’t make it to state as a team, that is still honorable.”

Karlous and Lofstead finished second and third, respectively, in the all-around competition Saturday. Karlous clinched first on the bar (9.0), second on the floor (9.25), third on the vault (8.6) and finished with a combined score of 34.05 points. Lofstead snagged second on the bars (7.4), third on the beam (8.2), fourth on the vault (8.5) and fifth on the floor (9.0) for a total of 33.1 points.

Rakoski earned third on the beam (8.2) and fifth on the bars (6.4). Jones finished fourth on the beam (7.9), fifth on the vault (8.1) and sixth on the bars (6.3). Early took fifth on the beam (7.7) and sixth on the bars (6.3).

With three weeks until the next meet, the Papermakers want to build more intensity and trust in practice before the competition heats up in January and February.

“We need to work on our endurance,” Ramirez said. “The skills are there, we just have to clean up our routines. Striving for perfection is what gymnastics is all about.”

“Even if perfection is impossible, we still strive for it,” Jones added. “We’re always reaching for that 10.0.”