Camas High School gymnasts are proving to be a strong team this season.
Head coach Carol Willson said she believe the team of 23 gymnasts will be state contenders again this year.
Last year, the Papermakers took home second place at the state meet. It was the first time the group had qualified for state as a full team.
Willson said this year’s team is even stronger and that she thinks the young gymnasts can perform just as well or better than they did last year.
“We started out very, very strong and we have a tremendous group of girls,” Willson said, adding that the team has been excelling in every area and working hard on their endurance.
“They have all the skills they need and now it’s just getting the endurance to finish it strongly,” Willson said.
The team has a number of key gymnasts this year, Willson added. There are at least 12 team members who can do well in the all-around competition and many others who excel in their particular event.
Incoming freshmen Alyssa Shibata and Shae McGee should be top all-around performers, as long as they stay healthy, Willson said.
McGee and Shibata showed their strength early in the season, at a Dec. 2 meet, when Camas defeated Fort Vancouver with 165.8 points.
McGee took first place in the all-around competition with 35 points and Shibata shot into second with 34.95 points all-around.
Washougal High School student Katie Stevens also joins the Camas team this season.
Team captain Joy Marsh is a junior this year. Marsh says she enjoys seeing the strong bonds forming amongst her team members.
Last year, Marsh dislocated her elbow and was out for a couple of months. She said she felt proud to make a comeback and compete in the vault competition at state.
This year, Marsh said, she just wants to do her best.
“I want to improve from last year and make it to state, where I can compete in more than one event,” Marsh said. “And, if not, then it’s not the end of the world.”
Marsh said this season has already been going really well, and that this is the first year the team has been as prepared as they are this early in the season.
“I’m just really excited to see where we go and where the season takes us,” she said.