Clearing hurdles together

CHS track and field athletes eye state championship podium

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Camas High School senior Ryan Gunther captured three titles during the final day of the 4A district track and field meet May 19, at McKenzie Stadium. He finished first in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles (above) and the 1,600 relay.

How did the Papermakers muster the leg power and endurance to run around the track so many times?

Ryan Gunther captured district titles in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Adam Ryan, Gunther, Dustin Zimmerly and Said Guermali won the 1,600 relay championship with a new school record time of 3 minutes, 25.51 seconds.

“During my freshman year, all I did was the 110 and the 300 hurdles. I was so tired I would fall asleep on the bus on the way home,” Gunther said. “After doing all four of these events for the past two years, I’m still tired at the end but it’s so much more rewarding helping the team succeed.”

The Camas girls team racked up 193.5 points to win the seven-school district meet May 18 and 19, at McKenzie Stadium. The Camas boys rose to second place with 137 points.

“Everybody put their best foot forward, and now we have a lot of people going to state,” Gunther said. “It’s special to be a part of a team that can produce this high level of ability.”

Jordan Davis and Tamaki Murata accomplished their mission of qualifying for state in four events. Davis won the 100 and 300 hurdles. Murata was on her heels in second place in both races. Murata, Karsyn Quade, Rachel Gray and Davis also earned state berths in the 400 and 800 relay events.

“This has been the ultimate goal since freshman year,” Murata said. “I’m going to be busy at state, but I’m a senior. Bring it on.”

Davis said Murata is not only her best friend, but also her biggest competitor. They will never forget clearing hurdles together.

“It’s an honor to do four events at state,” Davis said. “I train as hard as I can, stay motivated and stay determined to get that privilege. This is going to be the biggest weekend of my life.”

Ryan snagged the 400 district championship and Guermali grabbed the 800 district title. Zimmerly also pushed himself to the limit in the 800, but fell short of qualifying for state.

All three Papermakers said they had one more lap left in them. They proved it in the 1,600 relay with a school record and their championship medals, along with Gunther.

“We prepared for this all season, to be able to run fast when we’re tired,” Guermali said. “We don’t want to let each other down. We’re going to muster it up for one more lap.”

Alissa Pudlitzke added a second district title in the 1,600 to go with her 3,200 win the day before.

“This was my last district meet,” Pudlitzke said. “I wanted to come back with an amazingly strong race and finish it off.”

Emma Jenkins and Yacine Guermali will compete in the 3,200 races at state. They both finished in second place at districts.

William Ephraim placed second behind Gunther in the 110 hurdles. Ephraim, David Monarrez, Gunther and Cole Zarcone snatched second place in the 400 relay. Zarcone also claimed second in the 100 dash.

Caleigh Lofstead clinched her third straight district title on the pole vault May 18. Nikki Corbett notched second place in the discus and shot put, and just missed out on qualifying for state in the javelin.

The Papermakers spent the past three months generating electricity for the post-season.

Put a hurdle in their way and they’ll clear it.

Tell four of them to hand off a baton and they’ll get it around the track in record time.

Ask them to jump, they’ll say how high or far.

Give them something to throw, stand back.

All of that effort propels these Papermakers to the state championship summit Thursday to Saturday, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

And they all have their eyes on the podium.