Milltown becomes a national power

Camas runners finish in 13th place at Nike Cross Nationals

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Camas runners Alissa Pudlitzke (78) and Emma Jenkins (80) charge up the hill during the Nike Cross Nationals Saturday, on the Glendoveer Golf Course, in Portland, Ore.

The Washington State and Nike Cross Northwest Regional championship runners from Camas traversed a soggy Glendoveer Golf Course with the best in the nation Saturday.

Each step turned to mud forcing the girls to slip and slide, but they just kept going toward that final finish line of this unforgettable high school cross country season.

“What an adventure,” said Alissa Pudlitzke, the team’s only senior. “Just look at the thing. We demolished that course. It was a great way to end my senior year.”

Camas finished in 13th place against 21 teams from around the country. In the field of 199 competitors, Emma Jenkins earned 54th place by completing the 5,000-meter course with a time of 18 minutes, 45 seconds. Pudlitzke followed in 57th place (18:46), Emily Wilson claimed 94th place (19:09), Kaylee Merritt took 165th place (20:04), Maddie Woodson snagged 178th place (20:25), Brooke Roy grabbed 183rd place (20:33) and Gabrielle Postma placed 193rd (21:04).

“As the regional champions, we were not just representing Camas and our state, but all of the northwest,” Pudlitzke said. “We made it all of this way and we put in all of this hard work. This was our celebration.”

As the girls in green dug their cleats into the starting line — elbow to elbow with the rest of the nation — they tried to keep their emotions in check. Pudlitzke and Woodson, a junior, had participated in this race once before. It was the first time for freshmen Jenkins, Wilson, Merritt, Roy and Postma.

“It was a good box. Lucky number 13,” Pudlitzke said. “We had a straight shot to the corner.”

“We could see all those fans staring at us from the other end,” Woodson added. “We had to get out fast before that big turn.”

“Just turn those nerves into positive energy,” Jenkins chimed in.

The Papermaker pact remained intact throughout the first mile, but the adventure had only just begun. The combination of hills, turns and mud sapped every ounce of energy. Fans could see the agony on the faces of each competitor.

“It was the most tiring finish I’ve ever had,” Woodson said. “That means I left it all out there.”

The Camas girls loved every single minute of torture.

“Greatness doesn’t come from being comfortable,” Pudlitzke said. “To accomplish your goals, you must step out of your comfort zone and test your limits.”

Pudlitzke sees nothing but great things in the future for Woodson and the freshmen five.

“Seeing how hard they trained in this first year gets me excited,” Pudlitzke said. “I hope to come back to nationals next year as a spectator and see them at the start line.”

These Milltown mudslingers will take a few weeks off before ramping it up again for track season.

Pudlitzke looks forward to her final months as a Papermaker before chasing new horizons at Boise State University.

“My high school adventure is coming to an end,” she said. “But it’s just the start to a whole new journey.”