Girls track and field: Camas high jumper lands on top

Maddy Peffers looks to defend her state title

CAMAS — A year ago, she gave up something tempting for one week.

This year, she is trying to stay away for an entire season.

“I deleted all my social media during track season. It’s a cleansing,” Camas senior Maddy Peffers said. “I don’t have to worry about everything going on in the world. I can focus on my event, my sport. It helped me. I’ve seen it work.”

Maddy Peffers of Camas is all smiles, feeling right at home while practicing the high jump. Peffers, a senior, won the Class 4A state title a year ago and is hoping to defend that championship later this spring. Photo by Paul Valencia
Maddy Peffers of Camas is all smiles, feeling right at home while practicing the high jump. Peffers, a senior, won the Class 4A state title a year ago and is hoping to defend that championship later this spring. Photo by Paul Valencia

A year ago, her focus in the final week of the track and field season paid off with a state championship and a personal record in the high jump.

If Peffers were on social media these days, one might find out that the soon-to-be Washington State Cougar is so much more than a track star. She is a cheerleader, too. A part-time fashion designer. She knows sign language and uses those skills during the national anthem before big events. Oh, and her goal is to become a nurse.

Her anti-social media stance does not make her anti-social, though. On the contrary, she is on the track team and the cheer squad, plus she wants to become a nurse. All of those things have something in common: people working together, supporting one another, while also showcasing individual talents.

Camas senior Maddy Peffers said she will have to work as hard as she did last year in order to repeat as a state champion high jumper. Photo by Paul Valencia
Camas senior Maddy Peffers said she will have to work as hard as she did last year in order to repeat as a state champion high jumper. Photo by Paul Valencia

The new coach for the Camas girls track and field team, Seanna Pitassi, had never met Peffers. It was Peffers who reached out first to the new coach, via email, introducing herself and also offering to design the team’s uniforms for this spring.

“A real go-getter kind of a kid with a super positive attitude,” Pitassi said. “I could tell when I got that email, ‘There’s a captain.’ It’s been really cool for me to walk into a new team and see that kind of leadership.”

Peffers, who is known as Madison on her athletic.net profile but prefers Maddy, has learned many social skills through her experiences with different types of teams.

Cheerleaders are athletes — anyone who has seen them perform their stunts can attest — but technically, high school cheerleading in Washington is not a sport. Peffers said it is rare for cheerleaders to compete in a sanctioned sport because cheerleading is such a commitment in its own right.

Peffers, though, was a track and field athlete first. Still, she also wanted to know what it was like to cheer at Camas, home to one of the best football atmospheres in the state. She tried out her freshman year and was selected. She was on varsity cheer for football as a junior and senior. (She also was varsity basketball as a sophomore and junior).

Interestingly, after she won her state title in high jump last spring, she returned to cheer for the fall season to find out that some of her cheer teammates did not even realize she was in another sport.

“I want to inspire people to get out of their comfort zone,” Peffers said.

Maddy Peffers got extra motivated in the high jump after her struggles at the state meet when she was a sophomore. As a junior, she won the event. Now she is is focused on trying to repeat the feat. Photo by Paul Valencia
Maddy Peffers got extra motivated in the high jump after her struggles at the state meet when she was a sophomore. As a junior, she won the event. Now she is is focused on trying to repeat the feat. Photo by Paul Valencia

Winning a championship was an inspiration. Peffers said she is proud of that accomplishment, and not just for the title, but how she persevered after a rough outing as a sophomore at state.

“I was very, very, very nervous,” Peffers said, adding that a coach told her she looked like a deer in headlights. “I wasn’t expecting it to be that big. I was so scared.”

She got away from her norm, too. Instead of entering the competition at a more comfortable height, she decided to start at 5-feet. Three misses later, and she was done.

“I was definitely bummed that I no-heighted, but I was more disappointed that I didn’t take in that atmosphere,” Peffers said.

She vowed to learn from her tactical mistakes, but she also promised herself she would enjoy the experience the next time.

When she returned to the state meet as a junior, she was ready. She opened her competition at 4-10.

“That first jump was probably the most nerve-racking of my whole life,” Peffers said. “Once I cleared it (on the first try), I was fine. That first jump was more intense than my 5-6.”

Yes, one year after missing three attempts at 5-feet, Peffers soared to her personal best at state, clearing 5-6 for the title.

“My goal was just to make it to the podium. I ended up winning it,” Peffers said. “It was honestly a dream. It was really cool.”

She returned to school for her senior year for one last season of football cheer. Nothing quite like it, she said.

“Being in that atmosphere at a football game, Friday Night Lights, it’s so awesome because the community comes together,” she said.

A full house at Doc Harris Stadium is a reminder of how special it is for her to represent her school, her city, in different seasons.

“I love being at Camas. When you hear of Camas, you hear of their sportsmanship and the family they have,” she said. “It’s so cool to be part of that.”

Camas senior Maddy Peffers knows that cheer is not a sanctioned sport in Washington. Still, it takes serious athletic skills to perform at a high level. She describes her teammates as “family,” and to them, it is a sport, because of the work they put into it. Peffers also is a state champion in track and field. Photo by Kris Cavin
Camas senior Maddy Peffers knows that cheer is not a sanctioned sport in Washington. Still, it takes serious athletic skills to perform at a high level. She describes her teammates as “family,” and to them, it is a sport, because of the work they put into it. Peffers also is a state champion in track and field. Photo by Kris Cavin

Peffers did have to give up her final cheer season, basketball this past winter, in order to complete her senior project. She was a job shadow for labor and delivery nurses at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

“It was so cool. It helped me know what I want to get into,” she said.

The goal is to one day become an NICU nurse, to help with premature babies.

The first step toward that career path is college at Washington State. Peffers expects to compete for the Cougars in track and field and hopefully earn athletic scholarship money.

For now, though, as her high school days are nearing an end, the focus is back on Camas athletics.

“I’m a state champion, but I have to re-earn that position,” she said. “I can’t automatically assume it’s mine. I have to work as hard as last year, if not harder. My goal is to defend that title.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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