Nikki Corbett set the bar high and Caleigh Lofstead cleared it.
Championship performances by these two Papermakers led the Camas High School girls track and field team to third place at the state meet Thursday through Saturday, at Mt. Tahoma High School, in Tacoma.
Jordan Davis, Tamaki Murata, Alissa Pudlitzke, Emma Jenkins, Rachel Gray and Karsyn Quade also earned state medals and contributed to the team score. Camas finished with 45 points to hurdle Union by four. Issaquah clinched the team title with 59 points. Lewis and Clark took second place with 48 points.
“This is the greatest group of athletes I could ever ask to compete with. Same with the coaches,” Davis said. “I enjoy being a Papermaker. It’s been the greatest journey of my high school career. At the end of the day, I will always be a proud Papermaker.”
Lofstead had the pole vault all to herself after she was the only competitor in the state to clear 12 feet.
“This whole season, this is what I’ve been working up to,” she said. “Now, I get to stand on top of that podium. It’s really amazing.”
With the championship secure, the junior took a stab at the state record of 12-7. She soared over that benchmark on her second attempt.
“I knew I could clear 12. I just had to get over the nerves,” Lofstead said. “Once I knew I had won, that fired me up to clear to more heights. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Lofstead tried for a personal best 13 feet to cap off an incredible day. She made it over the bar on her second attempt and landed on the pad in jubilation as screams from the fans echoed around the stadium.
Cheers turned to gasps of disbelief when the bar suddenly came crashing down. Lofstead took one more shot at that stubborn 13 and failed. It was not meant to be on this day, but she had already accomplished so much.
“I hit that bar on the way up and it just bounced off at the last second,” Lofstead said. “To get that 13 would have been awesome, but it’s OK. This state championship is something nobody can take away from me.”
Corbett’s first discus throw of the day sailed well over the heads of the judges and landed 137 feet, 9 inches away from the ring.
The other top 15 throwers in the state couldn’t beat that mark. Corbett wanted to finish off her senior year with a bang. She did so by becoming the Class 4A girls discus state champion.
“It wasn’t a personal best. It wasn’t in the 140s or 150s like I had been throwing in practice. Still, I worked so hard for this and I finished it off like I wanted,” she said. “I’ll have this first place medal for the rest of my life. I also get to keep this pink disc I’ve been throwing since sophomore year. It means a lot to me.”
Pudlitzke and Jenkins propelled each other to fourth and fifth place in the 3,200-meter run. Pudlitzke finished with a personal best time of 10 minutes, 50.61 seconds. Jenkins followed in 10:51.59.
“We were both hurting, but we pushed through it and crossed that finish line together,” Pudlitzke said. “That last lap was just awesome. Emma and I just went for it. We gave it our all for ourselves and for the team.”
Jenkins felt the pressure going into her first state meet as a freshman. Then, the race started.
“As soon as I got out there, I was ready,” Jenkins said. “It was me and Alissa in the same race. It felt good to have her right next to me.”
Davis and Murata teamed up for the last time in the 300 hurdles. Davis earned fourth place in 44.35 seconds and Murata took seventh place with a personal best time of 45.64.
“I told her I wanted to stand up on the podium together,” Davis said. “We’ve been together since we were freshmen. This is where we wanted to end up as seniors.”
Murata fulfilled a promise to her mother, Akemi, that she would make finals in the 300 hurdles.
“Not only did I do that, I also got a PR,” Murata said. “It’s the least I could do for my mom.”
Murata, Quade, Gray and Davis reached the finals in the 800 relay with a school record time of 1:43.42. They settled for eighth place in the finals (1:44.3). Davis also finished in fifth place in the 100 hurdles (14.99).
The Camas boys track team also had a strong state meet. Adam Ryan, Dustin Zimmerly, Ryan Gunther and Said Guermali qualified for the finals of the 1,600 relay with a school record time of 3:22.56. They snagged fifth place in the championship race (3:22.61). William Ephraim, David Monarrez, Gunther and Cole Zarcone made it to the finals of the 400 relay with a school record time of 1:53.39. They secured seventh place in the championship race (1:55.46).
“It’s cool to come out on the track with my best friends and become a part of Camas High School history,” Gunther said.
Zimmerly dedicated his performance to his father, Donald, who passed away in a motorcycle accident last August.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Zimmerly said. “It’s sad that he wasn’t here to witness this. I know he would be proud.”
Gunther grabbed sixth place in the 300 hurdles (39.84) and Said Guermali earned sixth place in the 800 (1:55.46). Ryan qualified for the 400 finals with a school record time of 49.71. He snatched seventh place in the finals (49.91). Yacine Guermali notched ninth place in the 3,200 with a personal best time of 9:21.75.
Ten seniors came home to Camas with state medals and a lifetime of memories. The underclassmen are determined to carry on the torch.
“It’s going to be hard to let these seniors go,” Ryan said. “It’s been a privilege handing the baton off to them and cheering them on. It’s something you can’t trade for anything.”