The Papermakers didn’t need a diving board to spring to second place at the state meet Saturday.
Three championship performances, three fourth-place finishes in the relays, and three additional strong swims got the job done.
As those eight boys stood on the podium with smiles on their faces, the Seattle based schools, coaches and King County Aquatic Center officials were left to wonder where Camas came from.
“Nobody up here thought that little Camas, a suburb of the suburb of Portland, could put a team like this together,” said senior Kasey Calwell. “Everybody worked hard to get here, and we left it all out there for our school and our community.”
Calwell captured state championships in the 200-meter individual medley and the 100 breaststroke with All-American times in both events. His 56.53 second finish in the breaststroke set a new school record and became the fifth-best time at the meet. His 200 IM time of 1:51.1 is the sixth-best at the meet and set another school record.
After helping the Papermakers gain 100 points, Calwell was the choice for the Swimmer of the Meet award. He put the focus back on his swimming family.
“I said from the beginning of the season that we had a special team. Top three at state is something we all dreamed of, but I don’t know if I ever fully believed it in my heart until today,” Calwell said. “It was such an incredible finish. From the first dive to the final touch, we’re brothers.”
Senior Lucas Ulmer let his wingspan and desire carry him to first place in the 100 butterfly. His time of 51.1 seconds set a new school record.
“The way I finished is the way I always dreamed,” Ulmer said. “It all came down to that last 25 meters. When you put in the work, look up at the board and see a ‘1’ next to your name, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Ulmer also earned sixth place in the 100 backstroke (53.6) just minutes after helping the Papermakers finish fourth in the 200 freestyle relay.
“It was a whole lot of effort in my last high school meet,” Ulmer said. “The littlest points mattered to every single one of us.”
Senior John Utas went out like a warrior. He pushed himself to exhaustion three times to help Camas finish in fourth place in the 200 medley (1:36.31), 200 freestyle (1:28.97) and 400 freestyle (3:13.92) relay races. All three times are new school records.
“That boy pushed through every possible bit,” Ulmer said. “He’s the greatest team player.”
“I’ve seen John do that so many times. He puts his whole heart into all of his races,” Calwell added. “He might not be the fastest swimmer out there, but he’ll never be the slowest.”
Sophomore Tom Utas tagged with his brother in the relays. He also snagged 15th place in the 50 freestyle (22.49).
Freshman Mark Kim clinched fifth place in the 500 freestyle. He broke his school record with a new personal best time of 4:46.04. Kim jumped right back in the water and helped Camas in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. He also earned 11th place in the individual 200 freestyle (1:46.83).
The Papermakers racked up 185 points to rise above teams from Seattle, Moses Lake and the Tri-Cities. Newport, of Bellevue, won the 36-team state competition with 199 points.
Swimmers, coaches and officials at the King County Aquatic Center were amazed by the effort and class the Camas athletes displayed. But when so many people started asking them where Camas is, the Papermakers felt like they were from Mars.
Calwell said it is up to the underclassmen to make sure they never forget.
“This is where it all ends. Where do you want to be at this time next year?” he asked. “Envision yourself on the podium, and continue to work hard every single day. Make people remember who Camas is.”