Camas swimmers dethrone Columbia River for district title

Twenty finalists push Papermakers

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Anna Panebianco is the first one to hit the water. The freshman finished in first place in four events to help the Camas girls swimmers capture the district championship Saturday, at Kelso.

The chase for the district championship between the Camas and Columbia River girls swimming teams is well documented. On Saturday at Kelso, the Papermakers brought that prestigious trophy back home.

“We finally got that trophy back. We seem to trade it with River every few years,” said Camas head coach Mike Bemis. “If Camas moves from 3A to 4A next year, it’s a great way to leave 3A as the district champions.”

The Papermakers fueled their championship desires Thursday, by qualifying 20 of their 28 swimmers for Saturday’s finals.

“[Twenty finalists is] an incredible number. It speaks volumes for how close these girls are not only time wise, but also as teammates,” Bemis said. “That meet was won because of our depth. It took all 20 girls to get that championship back.”

By winning the 200-meter medley and the 400 freestyle relay races, Camas started off Saturday with and bang and ended with a boom. Anna Panebianco, Gretchen Beyer, Ashlyn Price and Juliann Reed all swam personal best legs to win the medley relay with a combined time of 1 minute, 58.84 seconds. Panebianco, Price, Reed and Brittany Worley won the freestyle relay in 3:59.74.

“Winning the medley relay was a complete surprise,” Bemis said. “That gave us a six-point swing over River right out of the gate. It was the perfect way to start off the meet.”

Panebianco (26.04 seconds), Reed (26.26) and Price (27.11) grabbed the top three spots in the 50 freestyle. Panebianco (1:03.44) and Price (1:05.31) went first and second in the 100 backstroke, and Erin Tauscher (1:11.70) took fourth.

Reed (5:45.49) and Allessandra Harms (5:47.63) snatched second and third in the 500 freestyle. Rachel Fadlovich, Nicole Buckley, Beth Abbay and Worley finished fourth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:58.73). Worley grabbed third in the 100 freestyle (1:03.86), Buckley took fourth in the 200 freestyle (2:18.13) and Alyssa Lobkov placed fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:42.89).

“Our girls knew what was on the line, and how close it was going to be,” Bemis said. “If you could move up just one spot, it scored more points for us and took points away from them. That’s what it came down to.”

In the end, Camas outscored Columbia River for the championship 344-327. Mountain View was a distant third place with 220 points. The other four teams were all under 100 points.

“This was the meet we had been shooting for all season, and everything came together at the right time for us to win,” Bemis said.

The Papermakers are sending two relay teams and four individuals to the state meet Friday and Saturday, in Federal Way.

“The goal is to make finals, and to come back and swim one more time,” Bemis said. “That would be a great accomplishment for this group of girls.”