The Camas girls cross country team dreams of winning its fourth state championship and returning to the Nike Cross Nationals.
The Papermakers jump-started this journey by blazing through the competition at the 4A Greater St. Helens League district meet Wednesday, at Lewisville Park in Battle Ground.
Freshman Rachel Blair won the 5,000-meter scramble with a time of 18 minutes, 49 seconds. Sophomore teammate Emma Jenkins earned second place in 18:53.
“I’ll remember the last 300 meters,” Blair said. “I was focused on the kick and finishing strong.”
“I love having Rachel to run with. I think we both make each other go faster,” Jenkins said. “When I’m not having the best day, I stay with her as long as I can.”
Senior captain Maddie Woodson finished in fourth place with a time of 19:21. Sophomore Ellie Postma placed sixth in 19:40 and sophomore Emily Wilson followed in seventh place with a time of 19:51.
“We started off conservatively and just picked it up throughout the race. It’s a hard course, but we all stayed strong, stayed together and we pulled through,” Woodson said. “It’s cool how we all stuck together. It’s motivating when you’re surrounded by your teammates. I don’t think we could be where we are right now without pushing each other and working together.”
Five Papermakers in the top seven led the Camas girls to the district championship. Sophomore Kaylee Merritt (20:10) claimed 11th place and sophomore Madison Child (20:31) took 12th place. Therefore, all seven Papermakers finished in the top 12 in a field of 45 runners.
“I’m always going to remember being a part of this,” Woodson said. “This is the dream team.”
The Camas boys cross country team also rose to the occasion and captured a district title. Junior Yacine Guermali won the individual crown with a time of 16:25.
“I just felt really good about the finish. It’s all about the finish from here on out,” he said. “This is my first individual and first team championship. It’s really special to me. I hope we can keep it going.”
Senior Adam Ryan pumped up to second place with a time of 16:40. He passed a few runners from Skyview during the last half mile.
“It was hard, but I think we came into this with the right mentality,” Ryan said. “We were all hungry for the title, and everything came together the right way.”
Senior Dustin Zimmerly snagged seventh place in 16:52, freshman Daniel Maton took 10th place in 16:59 and junior Nicholas Carter notched 13th place in 17:07.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Zimmerly said. “The end really hurt. We knew the stakes were high. To beat Skyview, we all had to go as hard as we could.”
Zimmerly said it helped writing his teammate’s names on his hand.
“I looked down and realized, it’s not about me anymore,” he said. “It’s about the team.”
The stakes are high again for the Papermakers Saturday. Unlike going straight to state from districts last year, the Camas boys and girls must qualify through the bi-district meet on the American Lake Golf Course in Tacoma.
“It’s scary because you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to make it through,” Zimmerly said. “We were on [at districts], but you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Winning district titles gives the Camas girls and boys reasons to dream big.
“A win is good, but when you do with the people you care about, it makes it that much better,” Zimmerly said.