Alexa Efraimson of Camas High School makes her way to the finish line in the girls 4A district cross country meet Wednesday at Lewisville Park in Battle Ground. Efraimson won the race with a time of 17:52.
BATTLE GROUND -- Alexa Efraimson was back doing what makes her the happiest -- running a race and helping the Camas girls cross country team to another big victory.
Efraimson raced to her third consecutive district cross country on Wednesday, racing through the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 52 seconds to win the Class 4A district title by more than a minute.
She also led the Camas girls to another district team title, easily outdistancing Union 24-42.
But less than a week earlier, Efraimson's junior season at Camas was still in limbo after she was declared ineligible to compete by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
"It was hard not knowing what was going to happen," Efraimson said. "My coaches and I made two plans, one if I was going to be allowed to run with my team again and another if I was just going to have to run for myself."
Efraimson's troubles began on Oct. 5 when she ran as an unattached individual in the Bill Dellinger Invitational, a college cross country meet in Eugene, Ore.
"The WIAA rules state that when a high school athlete competes in a meet against college athletes who are representing their schools in a scored meet, that violates the amateur status for the high school athlete," said Mike Colbrese, executive director for the WIAA.
Efraimson's filed for reinstatement. But while the WIAA reviewed her case, Efraimson was forced to watch Camas complete its regular season.
"I was just trying to keep focused on my training," she said. "But it was hard not being able to run with my teammates."
Late last week, Efraimson got the news she had been waiting for: the WIAA decided to reinstate her eligibility.
"It's a very common for the WIAA to handle these situations in this manner," Colbrese said. "We wanted to review what the parents knew about the rule. We ascertained that they got some misinformation from (Alexa's) previous coach, and that her current coach didn't have the correct rule interpretation. We felt that the student was caught in a situation that was not of her own creation, so the decision was made to reinstate her."
First-year coach Laurie Porter, who took the job after Mike Hickey left to become the cross country coach at Clark College, said the eligibility issue was not much of a distraction for the rest of the team.
"I don't think the other girls really knew what was going on," Porter said. "Until we knew exactly what was going to happen, we really didn't discuss it much. We're just so grateful that things eventually worked out the way did, and Alexa is back with the team again."
With Efraimson leading the way at Lewisville Park, the Camas girls placed five runners in the top nine and all seven runners in the top 13. And that was without their usual No. 4 runner, sophomore Maddie Woodson. Woodson was resting a shin split injury, but Porter hopes to have her back for regionals.
Union's Alexis Fuller was second behind Efraimson in 19:05, and she was followed by Camas' Alissa Pudlitzke (19:21) and Marley LeFore (19:37). Union's Cassie McKinney (20:10) rounded out the top five.
Camas and Union, along with third-place Heritage, will advance next to the regional meet on Nov. 2 in Tacoma as the Papermakers aim to return to state, where Efraimson and the Camas girls are defending 4A champions.
4A DISTRICT MEET
At Lewisville Park, 5,000 meters
Teams scores (top three advance to regionals) -- Camas 24, Union 42, Heritage 82, Skyview 114, Evergreen 140, Battle Ground 153.
Top 5 individuals
1, Alexa Efraimson (Cam) 17:52
2, Alexis Fuller (Un) 19:05
3, Alissa Pudlitzke (Cam) 19:21
4, Marley LeFore (Cam) 19:37
5, Cassie McKinney (Un) 20:10
Other individual regional qualifiers
8, Megan Condon (Sky) 20:40
CAMAS -- 1, Efraimson 17:52; 3, Pudlitzke 19:21; 4, LeFore 19:37; 7, McKenzie Good 20:27; 9, Meghan Finley 20:45; 12, Alexa Jones 21:27; 13, Lauren Johnston 21:37
UNION -- 2, Fuller 19:05; 5, McKinney 20:10; 6, Allie Connell 20:18; 14, Maddie McKinnon 21:38; 15, Misun Chong 21:51.
HERITAGE -- 10, Margarita Golovina 20:50; 11, Victoria Kehler 20:58; 18, Alina Svirdan 22:20; 19, Savanah Kehler 22:24; 24, Grace Marchesseault 23:29.
SKYVIEW -- 8, Condon 20:40; 21, Shelby Lee 23:12; 25, Neesen Bristow 23:29; 27, Chism Eke 23:36; 33, Alexandria Graham 24:20.
EVERGREEN -- 22, Katelyn Counts 23:20; 23, Sulamita Senchilo 23:25; 28, Elaina Hitt 23:45; 29, Ashley Lodmell 23:49; 38, Victoria Luebkeman 25:31
BATTLE GROUND -- 20, Rachel Rast 23:01; 30, Rebekah Boucher 23:52; 32, Alena Jarvis 24:04; 35, Danielle Russell 24:35; 36, Anna Gurnik 24:42.