Camas gymnastics wins 3rd straight state title

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Camas athletic director Rory Oyster (left) celebrates the Camas gymnastics team's 4A state title with seniors (left to right) Annika Affleck, Siena Brophy, Amber Harris, Lizzy Wing, Morgan MacIntyre and Kaitlyn Blair at Sammamish High School on Feb. 22. (Contributed photo courtesy of Carol Willson)

The Camas gymnastics team has vaulted into the history books.

The Papermakers won their third consecutive 4A state championship on Feb. 21 at Sammamish High School in Bellevue, posting a team score of 182.45.

“I expected them to do well, but it actually wasn’t our best meet because we had a couple of glitches,” Camas coach Carol Willson said. “But they really pulled it together, and I’m so proud of them.”

One of the team’s top gymnasts, Emma Crawford, suffered an elbow injury two days prior to the state competition. Freshman Ali Hubbard replaced her and did her best in a pressure-filled situation, but fell during the beam event.

“The whole team went over to support her, and the judge told me he really wanted to give her a higher score just because the team showed so much support,” Wilson said.

The Papermakers rallied through the adversity, dominating other teams on bars and meeting expectations on the floor exercise.

Shea McGee, Allysa Shibata and Peyton Cody shined in the all-around team competition and also picked up medals in the individual all-around competition. Shibata was third in the individual all-around and McGee, last year’s all-around state champion, finished fourth. The vault has been challenging for the Papermakers all season, but before the meet, Lili Ford told Willson that she’d been working on a brand-new vault with a higher degree of difficulty and was ready to unleash it.

“She pulled it off, which really helped us along,” Willson said. “I think it was one of the biggest keys to us winning the team title again.”

The Papermakers celebrated their team title with a cake at their Bellevue hotel on Friday night, but the celebration was short as the individual events started early the following morning.

Shibata injured on vault

The individual competition started with a heartbreak for Camas as Shibata sustained a signficant major injury after landing her first vault of the day. A physical therapist working at the event suspected Shibata tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

Shibata was being treated as Cody was about to start her bar routine, and tears flowed.

“She’s crying because her teammate got hurt, but she just knocked it out of the park and ended up finishing fifth in the bars,” Willson said.

Shibata and McGee qualified for the finals in all four events, and Cody and Olivia Bane qualified in the bars. Bane finished 12th after injuring her knee while competing in the event at state last season.

McGee finished second in the floor exercise and third on beam, adding more medals to her trophy case.

Shibata is scheduled to undergo an MRI to determine the exact nature of the damage to her knee.

Rescuing each other for the win

Throughout their unbeaten season, the Papermakers focused on supporting and pushing each other through difficult times. Willson said that seeing the girls’ hard work pay off on the state’s biggest stage was rewarding.

“I’ve been teaching them how to rescue each other when they need help and when someone didn’t score well or fell, the other girls stepped up and tried to do whatever it took to support the team,” Willson said. “They did whatever was needed, a great team effort.”