TACOMA — They surprised their opponents.
They surprised their fans a bit, too.
Heck, they even surprised themselves.
The Camas Papermakers did not win the Class 4A state gymnastics team championship. It just felt like it after they took second place Friday night at the Tacoma Dome’s Exhibition Hall.
This is, after all, the first time in program history that the team qualified for state. Camas then came into the competition seeded fourth.
But after scoring a season-best 175.425 points, the Papermakers placed second behind juggernaut Woodinville (180.225).
“This is crazy,” said Jacqueline Purwins, who finished fourth in the all-around competition, leading her team in points.
“I can’t believe this,” added Alexa Dietz, who finished 11th in the all-around. “Everyone was saying, ‘Where did Camas come from?’ It’s just so random.”
“We just worked so hard this season. It all paid off today,” said Emily Karkanen, one of two seniors on the team. “We all could not be any happier. To finish second is one of the best experiences ever. Definitely the best way to finish off my career in gymnastics.”
This meet is not over, though. Purwins, Dietz, and Madison Martin will represent Camas in Saturday’s individual event finals. Emily Mattsen and Jadyn Gobert of Heritage also qualified for finals.
Friday is all about team and all-around. Which means, this year for Class 4A, it’s all about Camas.
The Papermakers finished their four events prior to Woodinville’s last event. So for a few minutes, the team scoreboard listed Camas in first place. For fun and laughs, the Papermakers raced over to the board to pose for pictures.
“We were taking advantage of the moment,” Purwins said.
“There was no way” Camas was going to beat Woodinville, Dietz added.
“To come in second to them, it’s like we won,” Purwins said. “We beat everybody else.”
Camas coach Carol Willson had two words: “So shocked.”
The Papermakers said their performance on the beam really stood out. It’s an event they have struggled on throughout the season.
“Almost everyone stuck it,” Dietz said. “This time, we pulled it out.”
As far as Purwins, her day started off “mediocre” on the floor exercise. Her next event was vault, where she got two attempts. She fell on her first try.
“To stick my second one and to see that score, it really made me feel a lot better,” Purwins said.
She excelled from there, qualifying for finals in vault, beam, and bars.
In the end she totalled 37.275 points for fourth place. Alli McManus of Woodinville won the title with a 38.0
“I’m still trying to process it,” Purwins said. “I think I got 13th last year. Going from that to this makes me feel like I accomplished something.”
Dietz qualified for the vault, beam, and floor. Martin qualified for the beam.
Mattsen of Heritage, who finished 15th in the all-around, is in the vault and bars finals. And Gobert qualified on the bars.
The individual event finals will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Woodinville 180.225, Camas 175.425, Bothell 172.775, Emerald Ridge 170.225, University 169.650, Kentlake 167.400, Sumner 163.725, Mount Rainier 160.675.
All-Around champion: Alli McManus, Woodinville, 38.0
Clark County athletes: 4, Jacqueline Purwins, Camas, 37.275; 11, Alexa Dietz, Camas, 36.125; 15, Emily Mattsen, Heritage, 34.975.
Clark County qualifiers for individual event finals:
Jacqueline Purwins, Camas: Vault, Beam, Bars.
Alexa Dietz, Camas: Vault, Beam, Floor.
Madison Martin, Camas: Beam.
Emily Mattsen, Heritage: Vault, Bars.
Jadyn Gobert, Heritage: Bars