Alexa Efraimson left it all on the track in the 1,500-meter finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials Sunday, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
“With 200 meters to go, I thought she could make it,” said Mike Hickey, her Nike track and field coach.
The 19-year-old from Camas ran with the front of the pack and finished in sixth place with the time of 4 minutes, 7.34 seconds.
Jenny Simpson won the race in 4:04.74. Shannon Rowbury followed in second with a time of 4:05.39. Brenda Martinez dove across the finish line to earn third place in 4:06.16. Those three athletes will be a part of Team USA at the Rio Olympics, Aug. 5 to 21.
“For a 19-year-old to be 1.18 seconds off of making the Olympic team, that’s pretty impressive,” Hickey said. “That gets me really excited about what the next four years could have in store for her.”
Efraimson looked as strong as ever while chasing Simpson and Rowbury in the semifinals Friday. Simpson secured the top time in 4:10.09, Rowbury took second in 4:10.24 and Efraimson took third in 4:10.49.
“As soon as Jenny and Shannon made their move, Alexa went with them and looked so smooth,” Hickey said. “That’s as relaxed and as confident as I have seen her look in a race.
A slip-up in the first round of the 1,500 didn’t stop Efraimson from advancing Thursday. She tripped over another runner at the start of the last lap, but she got right back in the race and finished in seventh place.
“It was definitely a nerve wracking moment,” Hickey said. “She stayed so calm, cool and collected.”
Only the top six runners in each heat were guaranteed a spot in the semifinals. Efraimson had to play the waiting game to see if she earned one of the remaining six slots. After the fall and her recovery, Efraimson’s time of 4:14.4 was still better than the runners in the other two heats.
By winning the 1,500 Junior National Championship back on June 26, Efraimson has earned an opportunity to compete in the U-20 World Championships July 19 to 24, in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Hickey said that no American has won a medal in the 1,500 at the U-20 World Championships. Efraimson is determined to be the first.
“I have not seen a more dedicated athlete than Alexa,” Hickey said. “She does whatever it takes to get to that next level.”