Efraimson all business at Nike Pre-Nationals cross country meet

Camas junior cruises to 41-second victory in 5,000 meters

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant sports editor

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PORTLAND — Forget about that race two weeks ago. Saturday was the real season opener for Alexa Efraimson.

The Camas junior dominated an elite field in the Danner Championship race at the Nike Pre-Nationals cross country meet Saturday by 41 seconds, winning in 17 minutes, 59 seconds over 5,000 meters.

"This was my first real race of the season," Efraimson said. "This was the first time this season where I really wanted to go out hard and see where I was at. I've just gotten back into my training because my track and field season ended so late in July."

That July track meet was the World Youth Track and Field Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, where Efraimson placed third in the 1,500 meters.

Her recovery time from the extended track season delayed the start of her training for cross country.

Efraimson did run in Camas' cross country opener on Sept. 13 at the Pier Park Invitational in Portland. She was edged out at the wire by Ella Donaghu of Portland's Grant High School, which may have raised some eyebrows.

Well, put those eyebrows down. Donaghu was second to Efraimson on Saturday, finishing in 18:40.

"The plan was to get out in front of the Grant girl right from the start," Camas coach Laurie Porter said. "And Alexa did a great job of that."

The course conditions Saturday were better than the last time Efraimson ran at Portland Meadows. That came at the Nike XC Nationals, where Efraimson finished fourth in 19:24 on a water-logged, mud-caked track.

However, the rainy and windy weather didn't make for ideal conditions on Saturday.

"We talked about treating those long stretches into the wind like a hill," Efraimson said. "I just wanted to put my head down, try not to over-stride and stay in control."

Efraimson was in control from start to finish, helping the Camas girls place fourth in the team standings behind Arroyo Grande (Calif.), Summit of Bend, Ore., and Rocky Mountain of Meridian, Idaho. Rocky Mountain and Camas tied with 145 points, but Rocky Mountain earned the tiebreaker.

Prairie's Nicole Goecke placed eighth in the Danner girls race in 19:27, followed by Union's Alexis Fuller (19:33). Camas' Alissa Pudlitzke was 15th in 19:45.

Camas' Riley Hein placed third in the boys Division 1 race in 17:08, two spots ahead of Skyview Kaden Harbertson (17:10). But Skyview placed fourth in the team standings while Camas was sixth.

Union's Said Guernali was 37th in the boys Danner Championship in 17:08. Austen Blankenship was fourth in the Division 2 boys race in 16:58, helping the Chieftains place second.