Gymnasts jump for their love

Tight knit Camas team reaches for state opportunity

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Alexis Sabatini leaps high off the balance beam for Camas.

The Camas High School gymnasts are setting the bar higher every single day and jumping for it.

This is the only way they can grab that opportunity to compete at the state championship meet as a team for the first time in school history.

“After winning districts last year, getting to state as a team is the next step,” said junior Caleigh Lofstead. “We all want the same goal. It’s no longer just an individual goal.”

Without having to go through a regional meet this season, the winning team at districts advances to state. Head coach Carol Willson said the Papermakers don’t have the depth, but they do have the determination.

“Union has 35 [gymnasts]. On depth alone, they should win,” Willson said. “But I have faith in my girls.”

Camas also has experience. Lofstead reached the state meet as a freshman and a sophomore. Last season, she competed at the Tacoma Dome with Ashley Carter and Emily Karkanen. This trio is beaming with confidence along with returning Papermakers Tamaki Murata, Hope Richter, Alexis Sabatini, Rio Smith and Riley Truitt.

“We are very close,” Sabatini said. “We’re competitive with each other and we make each other better.”

Camas defeated Heritage 151.3-134.4 Dec. 6, at VEGA. Lofstead finished in second place in the all-around competition with 31.4 points. She won the vault with an 8.8, tied for first place on the bars with a 7.6 and took third place on the beam with a 6.5.

Sabatini took third place all-around with 30.95 points. She snagged second place on the beam and third place on the bars. Truitt (29.7), Karkanan (29.55) and Richter (28.65) earned fourth, fifth and sixth place all-around.

Camas racked up 151.8 points Saturday to beat Mountain View, Battle Ground and Prairie Saturday, at VEGA. Sabatini clinched first place on the bars and the floor, and won the all-around competition.

“When I do the skills that scare me, I feel accomplished,” Sabatini said.

Karkanen didn’t let a broken ankle stop her from making it to the state meet on the bars. This year, she is thrilled for the opportunity to perform in all four events.

“It’s nice being able to tumble and doing everything again,” Karkanen said. “I’m always reaching for another goal.”

The Papermakers are matching and surpassing their team scores from a season ago, but Lofstead said there is more work to do. And so, they keep raising that bar.

“We want to win, but we don’t want to put so much pressure on ourselves that it’s no longer fun anymore,” she said. “Our goal is to lift everybody up and make them feel a part of this experience. Together, we can change the momentum from ‘I think we can’ to ‘I know we can.'”