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Spring back: Efraimson runs away with national record in 2014

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In just three years of high school track and field, Alexa Efraimson had a storied career.

It was capped during the 2014 state meet when she broke the national high school record for the 1,600 meters. Two days later, she would run her final high school record by setting a state meet record in the 800 meters.

Efraimson passed on competing her senior year in high school to begin her pro career. She placed sixth in the 1,500 meters at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

This is her story from the 2014 state track and field meet.

TACOMA — As she climbed atop the medal stand, Alexa Efraimson wasn’t just taking part in an awards ceremony.

It was more like a coronation.

After running the fastest 1,600 meters ever by an American high school girl Thursday, Efraimson reigns supreme.

The Camas junior’s time of 4:33.29 at the state track championships beat the previous record of 4:33.82 set by Christine Babcock of Irvine Woodbridge (Calif.) in 2008.

After the race, Efraimson said setting the national record was her pre-race target. Three laps into the race, she saw she had to run under 67 seconds on her final lap.

That’s when she knew the record was hers. She ran that last lap in 65 seconds to win the race by more than 16 seconds.

“It feels really good,” Efraimson said. “Running by myself is one of the hardest things for me. I know I’m better than 4:33. But without competition, I think this is a good stepping stone.”

That stepping stone is on a path to more high-profile events. In two weeks, she’ll run against other elite high school athletes in the Adidas Dream Mile in New York.

Efraimson said her effort Thursday was “pretty close to all out,” but she said she still has some fine-tuning to do on her final kick.

“I’ve done a few speed workouts, not a ton,” Efraimson said. “Up to this point it’s been a lot of strength building, not a lot of speed.”

She’ll get a speed workout today at the state meet in the preliminaries of the 800 meters. She set the state meet record in that event last year in 2:08.17.

Prairie’s Middelstadt wins pole vault

Luke Middelstadt was waiting for everything to click.

The Prairie senior had cleared 15 feet in the pole vault repeatedly in practice, but never in competition.

Until Thursday.

Middelstadt cleared 15 feet, 3 inches to win the 3A state title and set a school record.

When the only other athlete in the competition failed on his final attempt at 15-3, Middelstadt was swarmed by teammates as tears welled in his eyes.

“I’ve been working to get that for so long,” he said. “It’s weird, because now I’m done and I’ve met my goals. I cleared 15 and am a state champion. I guess I need to find new goals.”

Middelstadt, who placed fifth in last year’s state meet, credited a slight adjustment for his victory. He lengthened the distance of his approach by two strides.

“You have more time to build up speed, so it’s more smooth and controlled,” he said.

Other performances

Camas junior Nicole Corbett placed second in the 4A discus. Her school record throw of 137 feet, 11 inches was best until the final round, when Arlington’s Lyndsay Leatherman threw 142 feet even. Heritage senior Guadalupe Mendoza placed fourth in 132 feet, 10 inches.

Columbia River’s Evi Wilson placed fifth in the 3A high jump, clearing 5 feet, 2 inches. Teammate Ellie Walker placed seventh, clearing 5 feet even.

Prairie’s Peter Zalk, the defending champ in the 110 hurdles, had the second fastest qualifying time of 14.88 for today’s finals. Teammate James Phillips missed qualifying by one thousandth of a second, his time of 15.175 just behind the eighth-place time of 15.174.

Evergreen’s 800 relay team, led by twins Dai’Lyn and Jai’Lyn Merriweather, had the second fastest qualifying time (1:42.51) for Saturday’s finals.

Written by Micah Rice, The Columbian, May 30, 2014

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