Seven Papermakers finished in the top 11 at Lewisville Park Thursday, making Camas a shoe-in for the district cross country championship.
“I’m proud to say that we all played a part in the team making it to state,” said team captain Alissa Pudlitzke. “Just remember how hard we worked all summer and after school to get this opportunity. We need to go out there and have our best race on the same day.”
Emma Jenkins battled Alexis Fuller, of Union, for the lead all the way to the finish line. Fuller held off the Camas freshman with a winning time of 18 minutes, 34 seconds. Jenkins was a step behind in 18:35.
“I stayed with Alexis as long as I could,” Jenkins said. “I felt strong at the end. Just wished I had a little bit more room to catch her. I just have to start kicking earlier.”
Pudlitzke earned third placed for the Papermakers (18:43). Emily Wilson finished in fifth place (19:06), Maddie Woodson snagged sixth (19:17), Kaylee Merritt took eighth (19:32), Gabrielle Postma notched 10th (19:54) and Brooke Roy claimed 11th (19:57).
“This is just a really exciting time of the year when we all start PRing and pushing ourselves. I’m really excited to go to state and push ourselves even more,” Pudlitzke said. “It’s my senior year. I don’t have another chance. When I cross that line, I want to know that I gave everything I had for my teammates and for myself.”
Once the gun went off to start the boys race, Said Guermali had a look in his eye as he surged ahead of the pack that said he wasn’t going to be defeated. The Camas High School senior hung with lead runners from Skyview and waited for the perfect opportunity to strike.
“Throughout the race, I told myself to stay calm. At the hill, I made my move and it worked,” Guermali said. “I’ve been working all year for this. I told myself to have quick feet and keep up my tempo. Once I got down the hill, I only had 800 meters left. Might as well go.”
Guermali won the boys district title with a time of 16:04. Four Papermakers finished in the top 15 to help the team earn second place behind Skyview and qualify for state. Yacine Guermali earned eighth place (16:31), Nicholas Carter notched 13th (16:57), Adam Ryan finished in 14th (17:00), Dustin Zimmerly snagged 18th (17:13) and Taryk Boyd took 19th (17:14).
“It’s a huge victory,” said Boyd, the team captain. “We’ve had a few speed bumps in our journey. Our guys bounced back every time we had a bad race, and it paid off.”
The state cross country championship races are Saturday, Nov. 8, on the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. The Camas girls have their sights on a third championship trophy. The boys are also looking to make a big splash.
“We don’t want to just go to state, we want to compete,” Guermali said.
“It’s been an honor to represent Camas these past four years, and I want to end it on a huge note,” Boyd added. “Something that we can celebrate and remember forever because we are a family.”