It was less than three years ago that a Camas eighth-grader named Alexa Efraimson first began turning heads after she helped lead the Evergreen Storm Track Club to eighth place at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships.
That skinny girl with braces is now a world-class high school runner, having earned a bronze medal for Team U.S.A. at the World Youth Track and Field Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Competing in a field of 12 finalists, who are among the best youth athletes in the world, Efraimson finished the 1,500 meter final in 4:16:07. Ethiopians Tigist Gashaw (4:14.25) and Dawit Seyaum (4:15.51), took first and second place.
Efraimson edged out Bobby Clay of Great Britain down the final stretch. Clay finished in 4:16:41.
“I could feel the other girl behind me on the straight and I was thinking,’I can’t let her beat me in the last 50 meters,’” she said in an interview posted on the USA Track and Field website.
The bronze medal was the highlight of an amazing season for the Camas High School Papermaker, who emerged as one of the top runners in the nation during this year’s track and field season. She broke course records, won Class 4A state titles in the 800 meter and 1,600 meter races in May, then captured first place in the 1,500 meter race in the World Youth Track and Field Trials last month in Illinois.
Before visiting Ukraine, Efraimson told the Post-Record she had never been outside the North American continent, and was excited about the chance to represent the United States at an international level.
“This is the kind of race I always dreamed of being a part of,” she said. “Especially on an international level. This kind of epitomizes what the Olympics could be like. I do dream about being an Olympian someday.”
After winning the bronze, she hinted that this is just the start of things to come.
“It feels amazing to be on the podium,” Efraimson said. “Even being here is humbling, so to get on the podium is even better. Everything made this such an amazing experience, and I’ll never forget it. Hopefully I’ll be able to do things like this in the future for the professional team.”