Fantastic Four aims for more

Camas gymnasts embrace state

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Camas freshman Emily Karkanen builds momentum on the bars before sticking her dismount during the 4A state gymnastics meet Friday, at the Tacoma Dome.

Ashley Carter, Emily Karkanen, Caleigh Lofstead and Shannon Ross are the Fantastic Four Camas gymnasts who reached the 4A state meet together Friday, at the Tacoma Dome.

Ross finished in 13th place on the floor exercise, with a 9.3, and 18th place on the vault, with an 8.9. The sophomore just missed qualifying for Saturday’s finals on the floor.

“I hit that routine like I knew I could,” Ross said. “I left everything on that floor, and I’m walking away happy.”

Carter toured most of the facility as a freshman. She earned 25th place on the vault (8.75), 29th place on the floor (9.025) and 33rd on the bars (7.8) for a grand total of 25.575 points.

“It was really cool to be able to get that experience under my belt,” Carter said.

Karkanen and Lofstead had to wait through a few rotations before finally getting a chance to swing around on the bars at state.

“I’m glad I got to watch the other girls and cheer them on,” Lofstead said. “When it was our turn, we were ready. We had been waiting for this all season.”

Karkanen took 27th place on the bars with a 7.95.

“It feels great to be able to compete and experience state as a freshman,” she said. “I started the season with a broken ankle and I finished it at state.”

Lofstead claimed 40th place on bars with a 7.5.

“The best part about this meet is being here with my teammates,” she said. “We couldn’t have made it here without each other.”

The Fantastic Four is just starting in Camas. Next year, they want to be the Avengers.

“I feel like this is a run that isn’t going to end because they are only sophomores and freshmen,” said head coach Carol Willson. “As long as these girls continue to work hard and give their best effort, they can get here as a team. Instead of just being the Fantastic Four, they can be something even more.”

Willson first worked with these Papermakers at the Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy, in Camas. After taking time away from coaching to adopt and raise a child, she returned just as these gymnasts were reconnecting in high school. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the Papermakers. They won the district championship meet for the first time in school history, finished fourth at regionals and qualified four athletes for state.

“It’s something I would have wished for these girls, but never thought I would be around long enough to see come to fruition,” Willson said. “This was nine years in the making. It’s surreal.”