It was all Camas at the Westside Classic cross country regional championships Saturday, on the American Lake Golf Course in Tacoma.
The Papermaker girls created a 70-point gap between themselves and runner-up Tahoma. Emma Jenkins won the race with a time of 18:34. Ellie Postma earned fifth place and Halle Jenkins followed in sixth place, both with a time of 19:16.
“We were missing our fifth runner, and she plays a big part, so we all had to step it up and just work really hard to get first,” said Emma Jenkins. “Everybody’s running for each other and not just ourselves.”
Madison Child was unable to compete, because she was sick. Kaylee Merritt stepped up in her absence and secured 21st place (20:09), and Rachel Blair grabbed 22nd place (20:10). Brooke Roy (20:59) and Paige Neff (21:35) both had solid performances to round out the team’s first-place finish.
“It’s really fun to be able to experience this with all my best friends,” Emma Jenkins said. “It makes us proud to be part of Camas, and it shows us that we have worked for something.”
Once again, Yacine Guermali and Daniel Maton were the leaders of the pack for the Papermakers in the boys race. Guermali clinched first place with a time of 15:51. Maton took second place in 16:17.
“I broke it out early and I trusted Daniel to hold it down,” Guermali said. “It’s great that he was able to get that runner-up finish. He kind of won the race back there against all the other opponents.”
Jackson Lyne claimed 14th place for Camas in 17 minutes, followed by six runners from Bellarmine Prep. Nicholas Carter earned 26th place for the Papermakers (17:09), and David Connell took 33rd place (17:15).
The Camas boys beat Bellarmine Prep for the team championship by 12 points. Guermali said Lyne and Carter played big dividends.
“Jackson has been our consistent number three,” Guermali said. “I was really happy for [Carter] ’cause I think that was the performance he really needed. It came at the right time, and I think he’s just going to build off it at state.”
The Papermakers hope the best is yet to come at the state meet Saturday, on the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. The girls go for their third straight championship at 1 p.m., while the boys look to improve on their sixth-place finishes the past two years at 2:30 p.m.
Winning a state championship is the ultimate dream for each Camas team. If they can work their way into the top four, they will bring home trophies.
“I know the girls are driven ’cause they’ve been there before,” Guermali said. “Hopefully, the guys can come out with a place bigger than sixth this year. That will show what 2016 has done and what the next years have to do to pick up that legacy.”