Once again, Caleigh Lofstead had the runway all to herself at the state championship meet.
The Camas High School senior cleared 11 feet, 9 inches with ease and then watched her final four competitors drop out Saturday, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
Lofstead finished at least a foot higher than the rest of the field. She cleared three vaults in a row at 11-3, 11-9 and 12-3 on her first try before failing to improve her state meet record mark of 12-7 from a season ago.
Unrelenting wind and the threat of rain made pole vaulting difficult. Once again, Lofstead was the last one standing.
“I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t jump a new meet record, but it’s still awesome to be a two-time state champion,” she said.
Lofstead had to overcome a back injury just to get this opportunity again and capitalize on it. She strained a ligament just two days before the bi-district meet. She only did one jump and cleared the state qualifying height of 10-3.
After a week of rest and recovery, Lofstead felt stable and refreshed during her practice runs Saturday. She couldn’t wait to vault again.
“I didn’t know what to expect, if it was going to rain or if there would be wind,” she said. “I’m really pleased with the outcome. I think taking that time off really helped my legs. I had a lot of energy and excitement.”
Although Lofstead looks forward to vaulting at Vanderbilt University, she will never forget learning how to fly as a Camas Papermaker.
“Back when I started, there was a girl named Jennifer DeBellis who used to vault,” Lofstead said. “I thought, if I could ever clear 12 feet, that would be awesome. Just to see how much progress I’ve made is really cool. It shows that all my hard work has paid off.”
Adam Ryan left it all on the track for Camas. He finished the state meet with three medals around his neck — fifth place in the 800-meter run (1:56.28), fourth place in the 400 (49.33 seconds) and fourth place in the 1,600 relay (3:22.23).
“Having that baton in your hand makes you run that much harder,” Ryan said. “I gave my whole heart out there for my three teammates, the entire track team and for Camas.”
Cade Greseth, Luke Albert, Dustin Zimmerly and Ryan won their 1,600 relay preliminary race Thursday, and dropped their school record down to 3:21.56.
“Being aware that this was their last year, me and Luke really pushed it just to give them one last good race,” Greseth said. “We came a long way, from running a 3:28 at the beginning of the season down to a 3:21 and getting the school record. I’m pretty happy with the journey that we made.”
Zimmerly and Ryan will never forget the times they spent running together in cross country and track.
“I’m glad I got to go to school and hang out with good friends who have always been a part of my life,” Zimmerly said. “And will always be a part of my life. They’ll be there when I get married, and they’ll be there when I die.”
“We come here, we run and we do well, but that’s nothing compared to the friends we make,” Ryan said. “Cross country and track has helped me grow as a person.”
Yacine Guermali broke through with a fifth-place finish in the 3,200 (9:18.87) Saturday to earn his first state medal.
“I learned a lot about training and staying healthy,” Guermali said. “I’m not trying to over hype my senior year, but I feel like I can come out big if I can capitalize on everything I learned this year.”
Rachel Blair grabbed seventh place for Camas in the 1,600 (5:04.64) and 11th place in the 3,200 (11:21.1). Emma Jenkins earned 10th place in the 3,200 (11:11.41) and 13th place in the 1,600 (5:08.3). Ahmika Kluka took ninth place in the javelin (115-2) and Stephanie Knight followed in 10th place (112-7). Nkmen Aduka notched 10th place in the shot put (37-4.25). Cody Williams claimed 11th place in the boys javelin (168-2). Daniel Maton finished 12th in the boys 1,600 (4:22.72) and 3,200 (9:31.74). Jacob Bedmont gained 13th place in the pole vault (13-0).