Camas' Efraimson wins 1,600 at state in record time

Sophomore says she was hoping to run few seconds faster

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

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TACOMA -- The magnitude of Alexa Efraimson's achievement Thursday was reflected in the sound.

As the Camas sophomore crossed the finish line in the 1,600 meters at the state track and field meet at Mount Tahoma High School, and the scoreboard flashed her time, a loud and collective "WHOAAAAA" could be heard from the stands.

That's what happens when you run 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 39.25 seconds, winning a state title by more than 12 seconds.

The audience was impressed. As for Efraimson?

"I was hoping I'd go a few seconds faster," she said.

Such is the precociousness of Efraimson's talent.

She broke the record for a Washington state meet, winning the Class 4A title.

She posted the best high school time in the nation this year, according to DyeStat.com.

And she barely missed the best time ever posted by a Washington high school girl -- 4:38.09 by Brie Felnagle of Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep in 2005.

Yet Efraimson wanted more.

"It shows all the hard work and the improvement from last year to this year," she said.

Last year, when Camas was at the 3A level, Efraimson's only individual event at state was the 800. She finished a close second to Amy-Eloise Neale from Glacier Peak of Snohomish.

"Last year it was a little bit, not frustrating, but devastating," Efraimson said.

Thursday was triumphant.

Efraimson and league rival Alexis Fuller of Union quickly charged to the front. At the end of the first lap, Efraimson was two steps ahead; by two laps, it was seven steps; by three laps, it was 16 steps, leaving the final lap as a coronation for somebody who has emerged this year as one of the nation's elite runners.

Fuller, also a sophomore, finished in 4:51.37, holding off Chandler Olson of Woodinville for second place as they ran through a light rain but had little wind to contend with.

Neale, who minutes earlier edged Megan Beauchene of Kamiakin and Katie Knight from North Central of Spokane to win the 3A 1,600 title in 4:44.58, said of Efraimson's time: "It's amazing. I know coming into today, with the conditions, I was hoping to stick on 4:42. I know she's going to be breaking all those records Katie and me set."

Efraimson got started with that on Thursday. The previous record for the state meet was 4:42.28 by Felnagle.

Efraimson considers her personal record in the 1,600 to be 4:36, converted from a 1,500-meter time, which meant that winning her first state championship was the highlight of her day.

"Probably the state championship," she said when asked which was more important. "I know my PR's faster."

So, Alexa Efraimson wasn't overly impressed with her time Thursday. But everybody else was.

In other highlights from the Class 4A, 3A, and 2A state meets:

• Colby Gilbert of Skyview, one of the pre-race favorites, finished ninth in the Class 4A boys 1,600.

Gilbert got off to a slow start, got boxed in, and was running 15th by the end of the first turn. He fought his way through the pack, taking the lead by the bell lap and holding it through the turn and down the backstretch before running out of gas.

Andrew Gardner from Mead of Spokane won in 4:14.93. Gilbert finished in 4:19.87.

• Prairie's Luke Middelstadt and teammate Peter Zalk were part of a three-way tie for fifth place in the Class 3A boys pole vault.

Both cleared 13 feet in the event won by Pierce Frazier from Interlake of Bellevue at 14-6.n Nicole Goecke of Prairie ran a strong fifth in the 3A girls 1,600 won by Neale, finishing in 4:55.78.

Neale, Beauchene, and Knight quickly pulled away from the field and finished within one second of each other, with Neale winning in 4:44.88.

Goecke said that was a blessing and a curse for the other runners.

"It's kind of tough if you don't focus," she said. "But it's nice having them to pull you along. Under 5:00 was my goal."

Lindsay Tompkins of Prairie finished eighth to earn a spot on the podium.