When Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that all public and private K-12 schools in the state will be closed until April 24 at the earliest because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Camas track and field athletes were busy training for the upcoming season at Cardon Field.
Papermakers coach Jon Eagle wasted no time supporting Inslee’s decision, saying that now is the time for people to follow the unprecedented declaration to protect the public from the fast-spreading virus.
“The spirit of the shutdown is that we will not meet in large groups, so anything we do as coaches that encourages large groups is going against what the governor wants,” Eagle said. “He’s the coach and we are the team.”
It’s certainly possible that spring sports might not happen at all this year, but Camas track and field athletes are still being urged to do what they can to stay in shape just in case there is a short season.
“All we told our kids is that we really don’t know what’s going to happen or if there will be a season,” Eagle said, “but let’s just be prepared in case they do resume the season.”
To help in that effort, Eagle is posting workouts on the school’s track and field website that student-athletes can follow from home to stay fit. When it comes to learning critical techniques, there is really nothing that coaches can do.
“Really, the kids are pretty much on their own to stay in shape,” Eagle said.
Papermakers have long distance, sprinting strength
If there is a season, the Papermakers will be expected to make some noise at the 4A state meet once again. Last season, the boys team finished third at the state championships after winning the state championship two years ago.
Spencer Twyman, Sam Geiger, Luc Utheza, Austin Weese, Andrew Puffer and Ryan Frawley — members of the Camas boys cross country team that won the 4A state title last fall — have been training hard to bring similar success to the track and field team this season.
“The team is confident,” Geiger said during a March 12 practice session. “Everyone is bonding well together. I really think we are ready for a really good season.”
Senior sprinter Mason Gross, who placed third at the state meet in the 400-meter run last season, wants to win a state title and break the school record this spring. He sacrificed wrestling to get his body in peak condition for track and field, and was excited about the team’s prospects one day before Isnlee’s announcement.
“I focused on heavy weight lifting in the fall and then on sprinting in the winter to meet my big goals,” said Gross, who leads a talented group of sprinters including Jacques Badalato-Birdsell, Isaiah Spear and Rayzjon Davis.
“I think we have the depth with so many guys that can step up to repeat a lot of the things we did last year,” Gross said.
Davis, a sophomore, was a part of the Papermakers’ 4×100 relay team that advanced to the 4A state meet last season, and keeps improving, according to coaches.
“I hope to stay calm, cool, collected and better myself and get faster throughout the year,” Davis said.
Hurdler Andrew Vanderwood is expected to be a standout performer, and Camas is expecting to be strong in the throwing events because of the talents of Rush Reimer, Austin Cupryk and Mark Harimoto.
Girls team has large number of freshmen athletes
Camas’ Shae McGee and Anna Bedont were expected to compete with the best in the state in the pole vault. Senior distance runner Halle Jenkins has been training hard to return to the state meet, and the Papermakers are grooming a large number of freshmen athletes.
One of those freshmen, Kit Greenhill, has shown promise in the hurdling events. She said that training for track in high school is a different world compared to middle school.
“It’s been harsh,” she said. “It’s way different than middle school track — so much more conditioning.”
While the global pandemic has put a halt on team workouts, individual conditioning continues as students and coaches cross their fingers that somehow the outbreak can be contained and the season will eventually begin.
“I think everybody is just processing what happened,” Eagle said. “The kids are very disappointed. We’re just all hoping for the best.”