Camas runner earns invite to run on national stage

Efraimson’s time in 1,500 is No. 2 in nation this season

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant sports editor

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Alexa Efraimson has already accomplished a lot in her freshman year at Camas High School.

But she did something Friday night that few would think was possible.

She left her coach speechless.

“When I watch this girl run, it just leaves me kind of at a loss for words,” said Mike Hickey, who coaches distance runners for the Camas track and field team.

And if you’ve ever been around Hickey, you’d know that’s not easy.

The race that silenced Hickey was Efraimson’s victory in the elite 1,500 meters at the Nike Jesuit Relays in Beaverton, Ore., a race she won in 4 minutes, 23.41 seconds.

Hickey said he was told that’s the second-fastest 1,500-meter run in the nation this season. It also earned Efraimson an invitation to compete in the adidas Jim Ryun High School Dream Mile on June 9 in New York.

The field in Friday’s race was a talented one, including junior Amy-Eloise Neal of Glacier Peak, sophomore Paige Rice of St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, and Union freshman Alexis Fuller.

Neal set a quick pace from the starting gun, but the race was decided in the final 300 meters when Efraimson took charge.

“When Alexa did that, I remember looking over at one of my athletes and saying ‘This race is over,’ ” Hickey said. “This girl has such a finish. She’s amazing.”

Rice was second in 4:25.28 and Neal was third in 4:27.00. Fuller placed fifth (4:27.42) in a race that featured eight runners under 4:30.

Hickey said he was impressed with Efraimson’s effort two weeks ago at the Oregon Relays in Eugene, when she won the 1,500 in 4:34.23. At the Centennial Invitational in Gresham, Ore., last week, she set a Camas school record in the 800 meters of 2:08.9.

Then came Friday’s race in Beaverton.

“Alexa is one of those athletes who doesn’t come along very often,” Hickey said. “I’ve coached some good athletes — at Portland State and Clackamas Community College — but she may be the most talented kid I’ve ever coached.”

If her 1,500-meter time were conservatively converted to a 1,600-meter time, it would have been fast enough to break the Washington state record by a freshman.

But Efraimson will not get a chance to break that record. Hickey said she will focus on the 800 meters and 1,600-meter relay in the postseason, which begins Wednesday at the Class 3A district meet at McKenzie Stadium.

“You’d like to run her in as many events as possible, but then you have to stop and remember that this is still a very, very young lady,” Hickey said. “I want her to stay hungry, and I want her to still be excited about track when she’s a senior.

“So we’ll work on keeping her intensity up, stay sharp and win a state championship, because that’s the ultimate goal right now.”