Gymnastics: Camas’ ‘magical group’ has shot at team championship

State competition is this week at Tacoma Dome’s Exhibition Hall

They just kept getting better throughout the season.

They broke a school record. Then they broke that new school record.

Now, the Camas Papermakers are hoping to make more history in high school gymnastics.

According to WIAA records, no Class 4A team from Clark County has ever won a state team championship.

The Camas gymnastics team is hoping to soar high above the rest of the competition this week at the Class 4A state championship in Tacoma. Based on scores throughout the season, this is the best team Camas has ever sent to state. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Camas gymnastics team is hoping to soar high above the rest of the competition this week at the Class 4A state championship in Tacoma. Based on scores throughout the season, this is the best team Camas has ever sent to state. Photo by Paul Valencia

Friday night, these Papermakers have a shot at doing just that. They are doing it with what seems like a simple philosophy. They call it “One more tenth,” referring to doing the little things that will add one-tenth of a point to an athlete’s score.

Of course, this is gymnastics. Nothing simple about it.

Still, when a team is this good, this talented, when the athletes score so high, it can appear to be stress-free when they are performing on the vault, the balance beam, the uneven bars and the floor exercise.

The key, team leaders say, is they are competitive athletes, but not necessarily competitive with one another.

“One more tenth is what’s going to get us to first place,” said junior Madison Martin. “At practice, we ask each other’s opinion. ‘Can you help me on this? Can you help me on that?’”

“We just encourage each other,” added junior Joy Marsh. “If we see something at practice, we make sure they are aware of it. Every tenth matters. We really need to make sure we are on top of our game.”

Madison Martin (left) and Joy Marsh are two of the team leaders for the Camas gymnastics squad. The key to the team’s success, they say, is every athlete’s willingness to take advice and coaching in order to improve a skill. Photo by Paul Valencia
Madison Martin (left) and Joy Marsh are two of the team leaders for the Camas gymnastics squad. The key to the team’s success, they say, is every athlete’s willingness to take advice and coaching in order to improve a skill. Photo by Paul Valencia

The state gymnastics championships are Thursday through Saturday at the Tacoma Dome’s Exhibition Hall. Columbia River’s team qualified in the Class 3A/2A/1A meet. The Chieftains will compete Thursday night, and the individual finals for the 3A/2A/1A are Friday.

The Papermakers will take the stage Friday evening. Their best will compete on the four events, and by the end of the night, they hope all their scores will add up to a title.

Their qualifying score of 181.7 at the district meet, the latest school record, is the tops in the state, according to coach Carol Willson.

“I just want to say they are a magical group,” the coach said. “They really push each other to do one-tenth better. ‘One more tenth!’ There is some magic dynamic that happens to click for this team.”

All the Camas athletes will be trying to qualify for individual event finals, which will be held Saturday.

“It is an individual sport,” Willson acknowledged. “But until (individual) finals, it’s a team sport. They understand that. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

The Papermakers want to win for themselves, but they also want to win for their classmates.

“It’s prideful,” Martin said of representing Camas. “We’re becoming more recognized at school. It’s just making gymnastics bigger.”

“With that pride there is also a lot of pressure,” Marsh added. “It’s a good motivator, too. Camas football gets a lot of recognition. This is our year to make our mark.”

The team is led by Jacqueline Purwins, who won the all-around title at the district championship. Shea McGee and Alyssa Shibata finished second and third and it is possible they could be in the running for the all-around title at state, as well.

Other members of the team include Annika Affleck, Grace Alonzo, Siena Brophy, Lizzy Wing, Amber Harris, Kaitlyn Blair, and Morgan MacIntyre.

It’s just about time for the team to try to reach its dreams.

The goal, Martin said, is to “just have run and have everybody do their best, and to win.”

“Mostly, to win,” Marsh added with a grin.

Other notes

Columbia River qualified for state for the 21st consecutive season.

Team members include: Sarah Ellis, Morgan Fitzer, Julie Fergus, Mya Bolds, Natalie Garcia, Elizabeth Lujano, Hannah Dyer, Sarah McFatridge, Xia Williams, and Jaycee Williams. Grace Gordon was injured in practice leading up to state and will not compete. She was, however, instrumental to River’s team victory at the district championship.


Other individuals

While Camas and Columbia River athletes will compete as a team, there are several individuals from Clark County who qualified for state:

3A/2A/1A meet

Evergreen:

Abigail Wilson (bars, beam, floor, vault)

Adalie Cassidy-Lopez (bars, floor)

Vanessa Bennett (bars, beam, vault)

Hudson’s Bay:

Amanda Zette (beam)

Regan Bradley (vault)

Mountain View:

Madaline McAulay (bars, floor)

Nina Evans (bars, beam, floor, vault)

Venus Howard (floor)

Prairie:

Alison Day (beam)

Ridgefield:

Kyra Blanchard (vault)

Washougal:

Katie Stevens (bars, beam, floor, vault)

4A meet:

Heritage:

Jadyn Gobert (bars, beam, floor)
Emily Mattsen (bars, beam, floor)
Madi Rasanen (beam)

Skyview:

Ella Zachary (vault, bars,
Kendall Jensen (vault, floor)

Union:

Mac Ridgeway (vault, bars, beam, floor)
Madi Schalk (vault, bars, floor)
Logan Nelson (vault, bars, beam, floor)
Kayja Jacques (vault, beam)

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