Last year, the Camas girls cross country team went to state as the chasers, the underdogs. And the Papermakers came home with a state team championships.
This year, the Papermakers will be ones being chased Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
Sophomore Alexa Efraimson and the Camas girls enter the state meet as the favorites to take home individual and state team titles.
Efraimson, who placed third in the 3A meet as a freshman, beat defending 4A champion Jordan McPhee by 33 seconds at the 4A regional meet last week in Tacoma.
The top-ranked Papermakers placed five runners in the top 12 at regional to easily outdistance the Nos. 2 and 4 ranked teams in the state. Even after Camas' sound victory, Tahoma (No. 2) and Bellarmine Prep (No. 3) remain right behind the Papermakers in the state rankings.
"Last year, we had two great leaders in Austen Reiter and Lindsay Wourms," Camas coach Mike Hickey told the Camas-Washougal Post Record. "This year, the team is led by the whole. It's neat to see all the young girls buying into this, always having smiles on their faces and happy about performing well. They feel comfortable with where they're at right now, and I'm just excited for them."
Union's Alexis Fuller and Cassie McKinney are also aiming for top-20 finishes in the 4A girls race.
The Camas boys, ranked eighth in the state, are looking for a top-5 team finish themselves. Two other local runners are looking to finish high as individuals: Battle Ground's Mark Tedder and Skyview's Colby Gilbert.
In Class 3A, the Prairie girls moved up to No. 2 in the state rankings after their regional win last week. Glacier Peak of Snohomish is the pre-meet favorite. Prairie junior Nicole Goecke will lead the Falcons. And the Columbia River boys, ranked sixth, are racing for a top-5 team finish at 3A.
In Class 2A, Washougal's Sean Eustis and Isaac Stinchfield are looking to improve on their ninth- and 13th-place finishes at state last year. And at 1A, the La Center boys (ranked sixth) and girls (seventh) are aiming for top-5 team finishes.
The state meet begins at 9:30 a.m. with the 2B/1B girls race. Other races will follow: 1A girls 10 a.m., 2A girls 11 a.m.; 1A boys noon; 3A girls, 12:30 p.m.; 4A girls 1 p.m.; 2A boys 1:30 p.m.; 3A boys 2 p.m. and 4A boys 2:30 p.m.