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Alexa Efraimson - NXN Follow-Up - 2013 - DyeStat

Published by
DyeStat.com   Dec 10th 2013, 6:08am

Efraimson was down, but never out at NXN


By Doug Binder, DyeStat Editor

Alexa Efraimson said on Monday that her victory was only now beginning to sink in.

It was actually a fairly dour day at Camas High School. The football team, the Papermakers, lost the state championship game on Saturday. So that's what most of the student body was talking about.

The World Youth Championships 1,500 meters bronze medalist had only partly come to grips with her Nike Cross Nationals win. It was a race for the ages, featuring three of the best high school female distance runners in U.S. history.

The top three runners in the country run side by side at NXN (Kirby Lee photo)And Efraimson's come-from-behind dash past two-time champion Sarah Baxter and Elise Cranny was a move that may be discussed for years.

"Honestly, even after the race and part of (Sunday) too, I felt like 'Wait, did that actually happen?'" Efraimson said. "I was still in shock, especially after the race."

Not only did the Big Three run the fastest times ever on Portland Meadows' wildly inconsistent course, DyeStat rankings specialist Rob Monroe rated them the three best performances in the history of the NXN girls championship.

Efraimson said she watched a replay of the webcast on Monday afternoon.

And so the big question was obvious: How close did you come to being dropped?

"I think if I had been dropped earlier it might have been harder to come back," Efraimson said.

As it was, 15 meters behind with 200 to go didn't turn out to be a problem.

Her coach, Mike Hickey, was one of many in the crowd on the brink of thinking Efraimson was out of it.

"I closed my eyes and said, 'That's the best she's got. Thanks for this incredible opportunity,'" Hickey told the Vancouver (Wash.) Columbian. "And then, I opened my eyes and realized she had a lot more left."

Efraimson began to sprint and flew past Baxter and Cranny.

"I wouldn't say I was counted out," she said. "I just feel like sometimes I might reply on my kick too much. But I need to use it to my fullest advantage."

Cranny, who was poised to out-sprint Baxter, never saw Efraimson coming.

"I thought she was nowhere to be found," Cranny said.

But there she was, and there she went.

Efraimson's season was not easy. After her eyebrow-raising victory over a college field at the Dellinger Invitational (including NCAA Div 1 runner-up Emma Bates), the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association ruled that she had violated one of its rules and jeopardized her "amateur status" because she had competed in a scored collegiate meet.

The issue went to appeal, with Efraimson's father arguing that the interpretation of the rule was faulty. His daughter, competing unattached, hadn't affected the score of the college teams. And how could an individual compete against a team, anyway?

After meeting with a WIAA official, Efraimson was reinstated, and just in time to compete in the district meet and qualify for state.

Part of WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese's statement read: "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."

That was a situation that could have derailed Efraimson's goals even before testing herself against Baxter and Cranny.

"Initially it was stressful," Efraimson said. "The first thing I thought of was how it was going to affect my team at state. It was stressful and took an emotional toll on me. Physically I almost feel like I shouldn't be ready for a break yet, but mentally (the eligibility issue) did drain me."

Fortunately, it was an issue that was resolved in time to set in motion the events that led up to Saturday's historic showdown.

Whether she won or lost, Efraimson could feel that she was part of something special.

"It was a very special moment because I feel in a way that we worked together and pushed each other so much," she said.

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