More Camas prep sports teams spring into new season

Gymnastics team won’t get shot at 4th straight state title due to COVID, but will use shortened season to prep for 2022

The Camas gymnastics team’s quest for a fourth straight state title is on pause, but it’s not over.

With a mix of returning veterans and experienced newcomers, the Papermakers should enjoy a successful 2020-21 season, which is set to begin on Saturday, May 8. But they’re also going to use the campaign to prepare for the 2021-22 season, which will give them an opportunity to “four-peat” if a state championship meet is held.

“Our goal is to keep the (gymnasts) healthy with limited practices and skill-building and to be in a great position for a hopefully normal season in 2021-22,” said Papermakers gymnastics coach Carol Willson. “Given limited meets and practices and the shortened season, we hope to work diligently on getting stronger, staying healthy and building team unity with the new additions.”

The Papermakers lost five gymnasts from their 2020 squad, but are reloading with a returning core that includes Alyssa Shibata, Shea McGhee, Lili Ford, Olivia Bane, Peyton Cody, Katerina Braden and Emma Crawford. Newcomers on this year’s team include sophomore Cyenna McCusker and freshmen Madison Williams, Kennady Cody and Hallie Kempf, a “state all-around contender in the upcoming years,” according to Willson.

“By adding the freshmen and McCusker, we will be strong for the upcoming future,” Willson said. “We have many one- or two-event specialists that will bring the much needed depth and support.”

Willson is also coaching four Washogual gymnasts, including senior Katie Stevens and freshman Reece Levansky.

“(They) will lead their team,” Willson said. “Katie will hand the torch off to Reece to hopefully help Washougal continue to grow in the high school gymnastics arena.”

Following is a preview of other Camas teams going into the shortened 2021 winter/spring season:

Boys soccer

The Camas boys soccer team is loaded with upperclassmen, including seniors Ethan Jud (center forward), Eli McMilllan (center back), Noah Frazier (center midfield), Wilson Fresh (center midfield) and Mark Robinson (center midfield), and junior Kieran Halsinger (outside back).

“The team is strong,” said assistant coach Josh Stoller. “We are led by a stellar group of seniors on and off the pitch. The boys are experienced in competition and eager to work for it. This team is different from others (because of) their hunger for the game. Many of them had their junior season taken from them and battled through the pandemic to stay in shape and on the ball. They have come out of it all in high spirits with a drive that is unmatched.”

The team also has “a handful of underclassmen and freshmen eager to earn their spot on varsity,” according to Stoller.

“This year we will expect to see a few of these boys earn a swing position and help contribute and impact our overall season,” he said. “Our goal for the season is to compete at the top of the league. If all players know and perform their roles to the best of their ability, the team will likely have success. We have a lot of quality within the program and look forward to watching it come together as a unit.”

The Papermakers began their season on Wednesday, April 28, at Kelso.

Boys basketball

The Camas boys basketball team has a strong veteran presence, including eight seniors.

“Many of these returning players had significant minutes in major games last season,” said Papermakers coach Ryan Josephson. “In addition, they are bolstered by a talented junior class (of players) who are ready to contribute in a big way. A lot of these young men really dedicated themselves to basketball through this offseason and have made enormous leaps in their game. The players recognize this as well and really believe that they can accomplish some great things this season.”

The Papermakers have the potential for an effective inside-out game with senior guard Christian Lenard and senior forward Kyan Thompson.

“Christian is always an incredible shooter. He has worked on finishing at the rim in the offseason and is now a serious scoring threat from anywhere on the court,” Josephson said. “Kyan has incredible athleticism and is an exceptional defender, confident scorer and so much more. He will impact the game in virtually every category on a consistent basis.”

The Papermakers won their first two games of the season, 87-64 win over Kelso on April 20 and 68-67 over Battle Ground on April 23.

Fastpitch softball

The Camas fastpitch softball team is undergoing somewhat of a youth movement, which has coach Mandy Cervantes intrigued.

“We have 10 freshmen in the program who make us very hopeful for the future of Camas softball,” she said. “We are very excited to see (shortstop) Azil Wong, who is the youngest sister of two Camas softball alums. She comes to us with a lot of club experience. She has a nice swing and is a very fundamentally sound player. (Outfielder) Grace Barsness played slowpitch and was a stud defensively. She is fast and can cover a lot of ground. I also hear that we have a great class of eighth-graders ready to fill in next year.”

The Papermakers’ (0-3) youth will be augmented by a group of upperclassmen that includes senior outfielder/catcher Ali Snyder, senior pitcher/third baseman Maddie Ellis and senior outfielder Piper Stroh.

“Ali will be a force at the plate offensively. We are very excited to see her compete,” Cervantes said. “Maddie also has a great bat, and we predict she will be a great contributor offensively. Piper has been very consistent at bat during the first week. I see a lot of improvement in her swing and can see her doing well at the plate.”

Baseball

The Camas baseball team will look very different than it did when it last took the field in May 2019. The Papermakers return only one player (senior pitcher/infielder Jake Blair) with extensive varsity experience, but have “a nice blend of seniors and upperclassmen” who should contribute, according to coach Stephen Short.

“With a talented group of underclassmen providing excellent roster depth, we expect to have a broader mix of players contribute at the varsity level that in years past,” Short said.

Wyatt Olsen, Lucas Warner and Nate Robertson are the only other Camas players who saw varsity action in 2019.

“Without knowing much about the other teams in our league, it’s hard to say what could happen, but we always expect to compete with the top teams in our league,” Short said. “There is some excellent talent in the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League this year, so it should be a very exciting season.”

The Camas baseball team began its 2021 season with wins over Kelso and Battle Ground before losing to Skyview on Monday, April 26.