Alexa Efraimson felt humbled, and still she hinted at bigger things to come.
Efraimson, a junior-to-be at Camas High School, won a bronze medal Saturday in the girls 1,500 meters at the World Youth Track and Field Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
“It feels amazing to be on the podium,” she said in quotes provided by USA Track and Field. “Even being here is humbling, so to get on the podium is even better. Hopefully I’ll be able to do things like this in the future for the professional team.”
Representing the United States as a professional would mean the Olympic Games or the World Championships. But for now Efraimson will settle for the World Youth Championships, an event for 16- and 17-year-olds conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations, the world governing body for track and field.
Competing in a field of 12 finalists representing nine nations, Efraimson finished in 4:16.07. Tigist Gashaw of Ethiopia won gold in 4:14.25, while countrywoman Dawit Seyaum took silver in 4:15.51.
Efraimson was in fourth place heading into the final lap. She moved up to third, then held off Bobby Clay of Great Britain down the stretch. Clay finished in 4:16.41 — 0.34 of a second behind Efraimson.
“I could feel the other girl behind me on the straight, and I was thinking, ‘I can’t let her beat me in the last 50 meters,’ ” Efraimson said.
For Efraimson, the bronze medal was the highlight of a remarkable season. She has emerged as one of the top high school runners in the nation, with her times in the 800, 1,500, and 1,600 ranking among the best in the United States.
She won Class 4A state titles in the 800 and 1,600 in May, then qualified for the World Youth Championships by winning the 1,500 at the U.S. Trials for that meet.
Following the Trials, she said, “I know there will be Ethiopians and Kenyans there, so I hope I can get a PR (personal record).”
She barely missed on that count, falling .07 seconds short of her best of 4:16.00. Anna Maxwell of Felton, Calif., the other American in the field, finished ninth with a PR of 4:23.75.
In Wednesday’s 1,500-meter preliminaries, Efraimson coasted to a third-place finish in her heat to qualify for the final. On Saturday, she made her 5,900-mile trip one to remember.
“Everything made this such an amazing experience,” she said. “I’ll never forget it.”