First-time champs at 4A cross country

First win for BG's Tedder; Camas' Efraimson won title at 3A last year

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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BATTLE GROUND -- Mark Tedder got that elusive title.

Alexa Efraimson was in her own little world, way ahead of everyone else.

And the Camas cross country teams continued their domination, even in a new classification.

Tedder, a senior from Battle Ground, outlasted Skyview's Colby Gilbert to win the Class 4A district boys race Thursday at Lewisville Park.

"I always felt like I could do it. This time, I had the mentality I would do it," Tedder said. "Maybe the loss last week to Colby helped me. It wasn't fun to get a league loss for the first time in two years, but I had to move on from that."

Besides, going unbeaten last year in the regular season did not help Tedder at district. He struggled to a fourth-place finish, later being diagnosed with an ulcer.

This year, he and Gilbert were side by side a mile into the race. By the second mile, Tedder took a lead during the hilly part of the course. He eventually won with a time of 15 minutes, 42 seconds -- seven seconds ahead of Gilbert.

"It's amazing," Tedder said. "This is something I've dreamed of as a freshman. I always felt cross country was my thing, but I could just never perform here. It was always disappointing."

No longer.

Gilbert raced with tight hamstrings. He said they hurt so bad he did not run on Wednesday, and there was a possibility he was not going to race Thursday.

"I'm a competitive dude," he said with a smile.

"In the middle of the race, I felt fine. But then they went out on me," Gilbert said.

Gilbert said he hopes his hamstrings will feel better prior to the regional meet Oct. 27 and then state on Nov. 3.

A half-hour after the boys race, Efraimson, a sophomore from Camas, cruised to the girls championship, topping Union's Alexis Fuller by 37 seconds.

Efraimson has been crushing the competition all year. She was the big favorite going into the race, then performed to those expectations. She said she draws inspiration from her teammates.

"Knowing they are pushing themselves as hard as they can, I want to push myself mentally for them," Efraimson said.

Efraimson said the key to her success this season is her drive in the months leading up to cross country.

"I really focused on my training a lot more this summer," she said. "I realize how important cross county and track were to me, and I made it a priority."

Fuller said she never goes into a race thinking about second place, but she understands Efraimson is running at a different level than anybody else right now.

Fuller said she expects to run better races in the coming weeks.

"It wasn't my best, so I'm not super happy about it," she said of Thursday's race. "But I still have regional and state. Hopefully state. I don't want to be cocky."

The team titles came easily, too. No surprise for the Camas girls, who won the Class 3A state championship last year. This is the first year the Papermakers are a 4A program.

The seven Camas girls finished in the top 14, with the top five totaling 23 points in the six-team event. Union was second with 52 points.

"It's such an honor to be on this team," said Camas' Alissa Pudlitzke, who finished third. "All of us are so positive, encouraging to each other. We all had good and realistic goals in mind. I knew we were going to do really good today. All of our girls finished fast and strong."

The Camas boys, led by third-place finisher Andrew Duffy, had four runners in the top seven and finished with 29 points. Skyview was second at 56.

"It means a lot to us," Duffy said. "Not only are we a good team, but we can achieve a common goal. We're not running for ourselves, we run for our team."

He also said it is fun to be part of the Camas running community.

"For the past couple of years, the girls have completely overshadowed the guys," he said. "The guys are starting to catch up a little. The girls aren't the only ones getting all the glory, all the titles."

It is the second year in a row both Camas programs took home the team titles.

The top 15 runners and top three teams advance to regionals, Oct. 27 at American Lake in Tacoma. Union and Heritage finished second and third in the girls race, and Skyview and Battle Ground locked up team berths in the boys race.