Camas stands tall at 4A district swim meet

Papermakers dominate awards podium

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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When the Camas Papermakers walk into the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way next weekend for the boys state swimming championships, they will be featured in eight events and full of confidence.

After winning the Class 4A district meet on Thursday, Camas will wait for their competitors' district results around the state but already has earned some momentum.

"That's what we want to build," Camas head coach Mike Bemis said. "Coming up to 4A, we're swimming now with the big schools."

Camas won the five-team district with 459 points, ahead of second-place Skyview's 323. Senior Seth Albert led the way in the team win with his pair of individual victories in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 53.96 seconds) and 100 free (52.10 seconds).

Albert -- one of Camas' state qualifiers as the Papermakers will advance in all three relays and five individual events -- said he reached personal-best times in both events.

"It makes you feel pretty special," Albert said. "This is the best I've swam since ever."

In its first season of 4A competition, Camas did not take long to adjust to the larger classification. The Papermakers won every meet, except one against Skyview. However, not every Camas swimmer competed at that Southwest Washington Invitational, so the squad was not at full strength.

On Thursday, however, Camas had no such excuse and certainly showed its might.

"We're just pushing through," Albert said. "We're not slowing down for anybody."

Through early domination, Camas decided the outcome long before the district trophy was presented. The Papermakers began the meet by winning the 200 medley relay, then produced first-place finishers in the 200 free (Albert), 200 individual medley (Kasey Calwell, 1:58.25) and 50 free (John Utas, 23.03).

It wasn't until the fifth event of the night, the 100 butterfly, when someone other than a Camas swimmer stood atop the medal stand.

Skyview senior Eric Bugna was the one who snapped the Camas streak, winning the 100 butterfly in 53.42 seconds. Bugna also shined in the backstroke with the victorious time of 55.09.

Bugna, a four-time state qualifier, defeated his friend and Camas competitor Lucas Ulmer in both events and said that they bring out the competitor in one another.

"Every time we race, we're both trying to beat each other," Bugna said. "We're both trying to get best times."

And that's exactly what Bugna achieved at district, earning his season-best times in both events.

Besides the state meet, Bugna looks towards the near future in impressing a college suitor.

Bugna said that he's been in contact with several collegiate programs, and so he has goals in order to land a scholarship -- a low 52-second mark in the butterfly and a low 53 in the backstroke.

"I think I can get that at state," said Bugna, one of two Skyview qualifiers.

After Bugna's second win, Camas returned to the winner's position when senior Jake Yraceburu upset the two higher-seeded swimmers to win the 100 breaststroke (Jake Yraceburu, 1:01.71). Camas' Max Urbanek won the 500 free (5:11.85).

"We'll see how ready we are when we go to (state next week)," Bemis said.

The state meet is next Friday-Saturday in Federal Way.