Prom was Saturday night, but competing on the same stage as college athletes at the University of Oregon was first and foremost for the Camas High School runners, throwers and jumpers.
“A lot of points were left out there, yet we still got fourth,” said senior Dustin Zimmerly. “In the events we did run, we worked our butts off. It was a first-place effort.”
Head coach Alisa Wise said the Oregon Relays featured hundreds of high schools from the western United States and Canada.
“To lose the big dogs we had last year and to still be in the hunt for the title was fabulous,” she said. “I feel humbled to coach a group of kids who are so committed to track and field. These kids did whatever they possibly could to contribute to the team score before they had to go off to prom. To be in the top four against schools of that caliber is amazing. They should all be very proud.”
One of her proudest moments was seeing Papermakers running in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the first time and excelling at it. Emily Wilson earned second place in the girls race with a time of 11 minutes, 42.24 seconds. Zimmerly finished in fourth place in the boys race with a time of 10:08.20.
“Running the 3,000 is hard enough, and then you add the hurdles and the water traps,” Wise said. “They looked like they had been doing it forever. They inspired me by doing something they had never done before.”
Zimmerly said the steeplechase was a test of one man’s pain.
“I just had to go with the flow,” he said. “If you’re dying, hang on, which definitely had to happen.”
Pushing through the pain helped Zimmerly rekindle that fire he needed to help Adam Ryan, Cade Greseth and Yacine Guermali clinch second place in the 3,200 relay (7:54.42). Daniel Maton, Ryan, Zimmerly and Guermali also took third place in the distance medley relay (10:26.94).
“I was losing the reason to keep trying when I’m hurting. Those races kind of rekindled everything,” Zimmerly said. “I feel like that fire is back. We are all grinding that much harder because we want to get better. We are not going to stop until we get better.”
Caleigh Lofstead soared to second place in the pole vault. She cleared 12 feet, 9.5 inches on her first attempt before three scratches at 13-1. This tied her outdoor personal best mark, which she obtained at the 2015 Oregon Relays.
“I remember where I started. I only jumped like 9 feet my freshman year,” Lofstead said. “To be able to compete at Hayward Field and see all of those college athletes I look up to is super cool. I had a front row seat and I got to cheer for my teammates as they ran by. It’s just an awesome experience.”
Guermali grabbed third place in the boys 3,000 run (8:32.15). Ethan Plock, Jason Driver, Ryan and Greseth earned fourth place in the sprint medley relay (3:35.44). Cooper McNatt notched ninth place in the javelin (162-1) and Mason Ellis claimed ninth place in the hammer (140-6).
Emma Jenkins, Ellie Postma, Maddie Woodson and Rachel Blair clinched fourth place in the girls distance medley relay (12:16.10). Jenkins, Alexa Jones, Blair and Postma took fifth place in the 3,200 relay (9:56.56). Ayila Ponder, Karsyn Quade, Cambryn Gulzow and Ellie Postma placed fifth in the sprint medley relay (4:21.29).
Haleigh Sudbeck earned seventh place in the girls hammer with a personal best throw of 156 feet. Madison Peffers finished seventh in the high jump (5-1).
Camas competes at the McMinnville Invitational Friday.
“I want to thank my teammates for giving 100 percent every day,” Zimmerly said. “I couldn’t do this without them.”