As if seeing a bear wasn’t an eye-opener, the Camas High School cross country runners gained valuable experience from the Stanford and Richland invitational meets.
“I never thought I would be going all the way down to Stanford just to run in an invite. It’s kind of like being in a dream. I’m wondering when I’m going to wake up,” said senior Andrew Duffy. “Then there’s this other side of me that realizes we are this good. It comes from having great coaches and teammates you can trust. They bring out the best in you.”
The Papermaker girls passed 19 other teams for first place at the Richland Invitational Saturday. Alexa Efraimson earned second place with a time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds. Alissa Pudlitzke snagged sixth place (18:50), Maddie Woodson followed in seventh place (18:54), Camille Parsons claimed 12th place (19:51) and Mckenzie Good grabbed 31st place (20:12).
“This was a better performance than our state championship race last year and the Stanford race last week,” said head coach Mike Hickey. “These girls just know how to max out. Every race, they get a little more confident. They are all nice girls, but they have this attitude. They expect to win every race.”
The Camas boys notched ninth place at Richland. Andrew Kaler clinched 23rd place in 16:03, Duffy finished 33rd in 16:14 and Tucker Boyd took 39th in 16:20.
“Andrew Kaler ran the best race I have ever seen him run in a Camas jersey. Andrew Duffy followed up on his outstanding performance at Stanford with this race,” Hickey said. “In the last two weekends, we have grown more than we ever have in a two-week period. There’s just a lot of confidence and toughness in the kids right now.”
A bear roaming near Round Lake on Oct. 2 interupted a Camas home meet for the second week in a row. The races were moved to the Heritage Trail around Lacamas Lake.
Efraimson, Pudlitzke, Woodson, Parsons, Alexa Jones, Kimi Knight, Mindy Hollar and Laura Ketring all crossed the finish line before the first runner from Skyview. Boyd, Kaler, Duffy and Jackson Cutler snagged second- through fifth-place in the boys race.
The Papermakers embraced the opportunity to represent their hometown against some of the best teams in the nation at the Stanford Invitational.
“It was fun for all of us to be able to get on a plane together and run on that campus,” Pudlitzke said. “It was so pretty.”
“We had a good environment and we were all positive,” Parsons added. “It felt like it was going to be a good day.”
The Camas girls finished in fourth place at Stanford. They defeated Jesuit, Glacier Peak and Bellermine Prep, who was ranked first in the state for 4A schools at the time of the race. Efraimson grabbed second place in 17:04.
“Halfway through the race, I was just dying. But then I looked around at my teammates and saw how hard they were pushing. It motivated me to keep going,” Efraimson said. “A tough meet like this prepares us for those high intensity races and competitions. It’s another step in the overall progress of hopefully becoming state champions again.”
Duffy earned 39th place to help lead the Papermaker boys to 16th place at Stanford.
“What’s really building camaraderie is the days before the race. We’re able to hang out at the hotel together, stay as relaxed as possible and not put too much pressure on ourselves,” Duffy said. “Then the next day, we all come together and run for the team. It’s not about what each of us can do individually, but what we need to do to make the team better.”
After battling Union and Heritage in the final league meet today at Heritage High School, Camas enters the district meet Thursday, Oct. 18, at Lewisville Park in Battle Ground.