Camas gymnasts go for the glory at districts

A first place finish Friday would send all of the Papermakers to state

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Alicia Hamlin earned second place on the floor exercise for the Papermakers Wednesday, at VEGA North in Vancouver.

After going undefeated in six dual meets, winning districts Friday at Naydenov Gymnastics Center in Vancouver would give the Papermakers all of the glory.

The grand prize is an opportunity for every Papermaker gymnast to represent Camas at the state meet, Feb. 18 and 19 at the Tacoma Dome. This is dream Amanda Bolton, Ashley Gjserswold, Grace Giordano, Alicia Hamlin, Amy Siebenthaler and Hayden Sutton have shared since middle school. It only became more possible when the Papermakers set a new school record by scoring 162 points as a team, Jan. 22.

“The reason we scored a record is because we stopped worrying about individual scores and started caring more about the team, and how well we work together,” Siebenthaler said. “From this year, what I’m going to remember most is that feeling of team. I’ve seen things out of these girls I have never seen before. We really are a family now, more than ever.”

Bolton (30.6 points), Nicole Dietzman (30.15) and Giordano (29.25) grabbed the top-three spots in the all-around competition to help Camas beat Hudson’s Bay 154.5-136.7 Wednesday, at the Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy. Audrey Siebenthaler snatched first on the balance beam, with a score of 9.0.

Amy Siebenthaler only competed in two events Wednesday, but she made them both count. The senior finished first on the floor exercise and the vault, with respective scores of 9.3 and 8.5.

“The team has become incredibly driven,” she said. “The key to districts is consistency. Hitting all of our series and our double saltos, and sticking all of our landings.

“Being together will definitely be our ticket to success, so we can end the season the way our seniors want to,” she added. “Making it to state as a team would be fabulous.”

The Papermakers also defeated Skyview 148.95-133.7 Saturday. Bolton finished first on the floor (8.9) and the vault (8.3), and third all-around (29.0). Sutton snatched second on the floor (8.8) and the vault (8.1), and first all-around (30.2). Giordano grabbed second on the bars (6.8) and Katelynn Jones took third on the beam (7.1).

Watching the Camas girls cheer each other on after every routine makes head coaches Lauren Alberts and Jennifer McDonnell smile. Alberts said the energy the girls are generating in the gym is infectious.

“Jen and I get goose bumps every time they compete,” Alberts said. “Hopefully, this experience takes them beyond state. Gymnastics is teaching these girls lessons they can use, and memories they will hold on to, for the rest of their lives.”

On the night the Papermakers set the school record, McDonnell remembers driving home in a daze. When her husband asked how the girls did, she couldn’t stop talking about how well they performed as a team. He had to ask what the score was before she finally told him they broke the school record. He couldn’t believe she didn’t say that the minute she walked through the door.

“We beat the school record, but having all of the girls come together and be one like that was amazing to see as a coach,” McDonnell said. “They didn’t care about the scores, they were just cheering each other on to do the best they could do. It showed that they are a true team.”

Bolton believes the Papermakers have another 162 points in them. Districts is the night to do it.

“I hope districts is my greatest moment in high school,” she said. “When I went to state for the first time, I cried because I was so excited. I would love for everyone to have that same feeling.”

This article can also be found in the Feb. 1 Post-Record print edition.