State gymnastics: Camas rules 4A Washington

Papermakers get the team championship, plus list of local medalists

They knew it was close. That is all they knew.

There was no scoreboard flashing the official team scores up to the minute at the Class 4A state gymnastics meet Friday night at the Tacoma Dome’s Exhibition Hall. Instead, some coaches and fans of the Camas Papermakers were trying to figure it out on their own prior to their final event.

The Camas Papermakers became the first Class 4A team from Clark County to claim a state gymnastics championship. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Camas Papermakers became the first Class 4A team from Clark County to claim a state gymnastics championship. Photo by Paul Valencia

It was determined the five scoring Papermakers had to average an 8.9 on the uneven bars to have a chance. Freshman Alyssa Shibata was the final competitor.

“Wow, thanks for the pep talk,” she remembered thinking, sarcastically.

Yeah, no pressure, right?

“It was a little nerve-racking being last,” she said.

She did not show any nerves.

“I just didn’t focus on it too much. I just wanted to have fun and do the best that I could,” she said.

Then she crushed her routine and stuck the landing.

“It was one of my better routines that I’ve done recently,” she said. “Just a great moment to land that. ‘Wow, I did something!’”

She and her teammates did more than something. The Papermakers won the Class 4A state team title, becoming the first 4A team in Clark County to accomplish that feat and only the second team from the county to earn a team championship at state.

The final three Camas gymnasts on the bars — Jacqueline Purwins, Shea McGee, and Shibata — all went way above the average that the team needed, securing the title.

Jacqueline Purwins, the lone senior on Camas’ state championship gymnastics team, medaled in three individual events. Photo by Paul Valencia
Jacqueline Purwins, the lone senior on Camas’ state championship gymnastics team, medaled in three individual events. Photo by Paul Valencia
Camas’ Alyssa Shibata was the team’s final athlete on the uneven bars. She stuck her routine, and her score helped the Papermakers to a team championship. Photo by Paul Valencia
Camas’ Alyssa Shibata was the team’s final athlete on the uneven bars. She stuck her routine, and her score helped the Papermakers to a team championship. Photo by Paul Valencia
Camas’ Shea McGee finished second in the Class 4A all-around competition, leading her team to victory. Photo by Paul Valencia
Camas’ Shea McGee finished second in the Class 4A all-around competition, leading her team to victory. Photo by Paul Valencia

“They brought it home for us,” Camas coach Carol Willson said. “I felt like we were in the Olympics.”

Joy Marsh, Siena Brophy, Grace Alonzo, Madison Martin, and Lizzy Wing all had at least one performance Friday that added up to the final team score. Camas totalled 181.200, topping four-time defending champion Woodinville, which scored 180.125.

“The Woodinville coach came up to me and said, ‘If we were going to get beat by anybody, glad it was you guys,’” Willson said.

The tension was building throughout the final session of the 4A team competition. Camas opened on the balance beam and did “great,” Willson said. Then came floor exercise, a strength of the team.

The team struggled during its warm-up for the vault. This has the Papermakers concerned. In competition, though, “they did pretty good,” the coach said.

Finally, bars. The first three competitors kept Camas close enough, but the Papermakers would need their final three to finish strong.

Purwins scored a 9.475, McGee followed with a 9.6. Then Shibata nailed it with a 9.725.

“They all started crying after bars. They started crying because they were so happy,” Willson said. “They knew they blew it out of the park.”

“It was just a great moment,” Shibata said. “We were supporting each other, we were there for each other. I’m just glad we won it.”

Now, the Papermakers are part of history as the first 4A team from the region to win it all.

“It feels amazing, knowing no one’s been able to to this until us,” Shibata said. “It’s just crazy.”

The achievement was monumental, and, as noted, a first, but it was not a surprise, not an upset. The Papermakers knew they had something special all season, predicting they had a good chance.

“I knew this group could do it,” Willson said. “They had just to put it all together, and they did. It was a pretty great experience.”


Individual medals

All-Around: McGee just missed out on a state championship, finishing second in the Class 4A all-around competition. She scored 37.900. Champion Lexi McKnight of Kentridge had 38.050. … Shibata finished fifth in the all-around. … Nina Evans of Mountain View finished sixth in the 3A/2A/1A all-around.

Bars: Purwins took third and Shibata finished fifth on 4A bars.

Beam: McGee placed sixth on the 4A beam.

Floor: Mac Ridgway of Union tied for second on the 4A floor exercise with a 9.60. McGee finished fourth and Purwins took seventh. … Sarah Ellis of Columbia River tied for third on the 3A/2A/1A floor. Evans tied for sixth place.

Vault: McGee tied for fourth on the 4A vault. Purwins finished eighth. … Ellis tied for second on the 3A/2A/1A vault with a score of 9.625. Evans was fourth.

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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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