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Alexa Efraimson finished third in her qualifying heat Wednesday, advancing to the final of the girls 1,500 meters at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Efraimson, a junior-to-be at Camas High School, finished in 4:23.27 in a heat won by Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia in 4:14.40. Iveen Chepkemoi of Kenya finished second in that heat, with the top four finishers earning automatic spots in Saturday's final.
"It went really well," Efraimson told Seattle-based track blogger Paul Merca. "Honestly all I wanted to do was to be in the top three. The top four make it to the final, but I really wanted to be in the top three to really secure my spot, so that’s what I did. When I put this jersey on this morning, it was so real. It is crazy to be running for the USA.”
The World Youth Championships are for athletes ages 16-17 and are conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body for track and field. Efraimson, who won Washington Class 4A state titles in the 800 meters and the 1,600 in May, qualified for the World Youth Championships through a trials meet in Edwardsville, Ill.
The girls 1,500 final is scheduled for 9:20 a.m. PDT Saturday.
While Seyaum set a personal record in winning the 1,500 heat, Efraimson was well off her best time. She ran a 4:16.00 last month at the Portland Track Festival.
"It's a prelim, so you don't want to go all out," Efraimson told an interviewer on a video posted on the IAAF Web site. "I was just trying to save as much as I could."
Anna Maxwell of Felton, Calif., the other American in the field, finished eighth in her heat but advanced to the 12-person final on the basis of time.