Gymnastic energy

Papermakers break the ice after a week without practice

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The snow couldn’t keep the Camas High School gymnasts from putting their best foot forward Saturday.

Jax Purwins, Alexa Dietz, Emily Karkanen and Charlotte Burton finished top five in the all-around competition to help the Papermakers defeat Heritage, Union, Mountain View and Hudson’s Bay at Naydenov Gymnastics Center, in Vancouver.

“We were all just so consistent,” Karkanen said. “Even if there was a little mistake, we just put it behind us and moved forward. It was a really good meet.”

Camas racked up 170.85 points to win the team competition. Heritage followed in second place with 161.9 and Union took third with 157.45 points.

“Not having much practice before this meet made it harder, but I think we all pushed through and did a good job under the circumstances,” Burton said. “And I feel like this was one of the best meets we’ve ever had. Maybe the snow helped us.”

Or perhaps it was the opportunity to compete against teams from the league for the first time this season.

“When we walked in and saw them, we knew we had to do well,” Dietz said. “We wanted to intimidate them before they could intimidate us.”

The Papermakers got on a roll on the bars. Dietz finished in first place with a 9.2. Karkanen delivered a 9.0, Burton gained an 8.9 and Purwins earned an 8.8.

Purwins placed second on the beam with an 8.9. Burton stayed on the beam for the first time this season and scored an 8.55.

“I just felt like I made a lot of improvements on my toughest events,” Burton said.

Camas dazzled the crowd on the floor exercise. Purwins won with a 9.45, Dietz delivered a 9.4, Karkanen earned an 8.85, Siena Brophy gained an 8.8 and Burton scored an 8.5.

“I love floor. It’s my favorite,” Dietz said. “I decided, ‘I got to huck it,’ because I haven’t had practice, but it turned out really good.”

Purwins flipped off the vault and stuck the landing for a 9.0. Karkanen earned an 8.3, Dietz had an 8.1 and Burton finished with an 8.0.

Head coach Carol Willson was impressed by these scores, especially since the girls had not been able to practice for about a week.

“I was concerned they weren’t going to be prepared, but they were,” she said. “We had a big meeting ahead of time and said, ‘this is our precursor to districts.’ And they pulled it off.”

Willson said Burton and Dietz have been incredible additions to the team.

After their club coach moved to California, they were both looking for something more team-oriented.

“I’ve never done a school sport before,” Burton said. “It’s really cool getting to represent my school and my city because you don’t get to do that in club.”

As captain, Karkanen sets the tone for the Papermakers. Her passion for the sport and love for her teammates are unmatched.

“Emily’s a fabulous leader. You couldn’t pick a better one,” Willson said. “In fact, all the coaches and judges say they are going to miss her when she’s gone. She’s been a big part of our program and a big part of my life.'”

Hopefully Willson, Karkanen and the rest of the Papermakers won’t have to say their “good byes” until after the state meet at the Tacoma Dome. If they all get there as a team, they will make history.