Makings of a special team

Camas gymnasts become district champions again

With Heritage nipping at their heels, the Camas High School gymnasts swung for a second straight district championship Saturday, at the Northpointe gym in Vancouver.

“Camas had never won districts before last year. It’s great knowing that this is the group that could do it a second time,” said senior Hope Richter. “We’re really lucky.”

Ashley Carter clinched third place on the beam, and Alexis Sabatini followed in fifth. Caleigh Lofstead, Riley Truitt and Emily Karkanen finished third, fourth and fifth place on the vault. Jacqueline Purwins, Karkanen and Lofstead snagged third, fifth and sixth place on the bars.

Sabatini earned fifth place and Lofstead took sixth place in the all-around competition. This helped the Papermakers beat the Timberwolves for the title by 1.5 points.

“When I was a freshman, we didn’t win anything. But when I was a junior, we won everything,” said senior Tamaki Murata. “And this year, we did it again. It makes me so proud.”

Camas heads to the regional meet Saturday. It starts at 4 p.m., at Newport High School, in Bellevue. Only the winning team, top four all-around athletes and 10 individuals in each event qualify for state Feb. 20 and 21, at the Tacoma Dome.

Defending state champion Woodinville appears to be a lock for another regional title. Camas will have to contend with gymnasts from Heritage, Newport and Mt. Si for state berths.

“Just go out there and have the meet of their lives,” said head coach Carol Willson. “As long as they all do their very best, the team can walk away feeling proud. That’s what I desire for them.”

The Papermakers felt the pressure that goes along with becoming the two-time district champions, and they have emerged as a stronger unit. After all of the stress, sweat and tears, it’s time for these girls to make all of their dreams come true.

“Now, it’s all about fun and games,” Sabatini said. “We do so much better when we have fun. We love gymnastics.”

“We are going to practice hard, cheer for each other and we’re going to fight for it,” Richter added. “We’re a team that does not give up.”