May 30, 2015
Move over Mary Cain.
Less than two years after high school sensation Mary Cain totally rewrote the US high school* and junior records at 1,500m, she has been erased from the 1,500 record books as Alexa Efraimson ran 4:03.39 to finish seventh at the 2015 Prefontaine Classic 1,500m and take away Mary Cain’s previous American junior and high school record of 4:04.62. Recap Of Race Here
The transformation of the American girls junior and high school record books in the last thee years is amazing. Until Mary Cain came onto the scene, the fastest time by a high schooler was Jordan Hasay’s 4:14.50. Cain lowered that to 4:11.01 in fishing 6th at the World Junior Champs in 2012 and then ran nearly 10 seconds faster than Hasay the next year, taking the record to 4:04.62. Less than two years later, Efraimson of Camas, Washington, who is one year younger than Cain, has now broken Cain’s records.
While the run may have been a surprise to some, including NBC, which appallingly never mentioned Efraimson or her incredible run today on its national TV broadcast, it was not a surprise to Efraimson and her coach Mike Hickey. Efraimson’s PR prior to today was the 4:07.05 she ran last year to finish 6th at the World Juniors in Eugene. She knew she was capable of something much bigger after running a 2:01.13 800m PR two weeks ago.
After her record breaking run today, Efraimson said, “I was hoping for a really big PR today because I knew there was going to be a really stacked field. I was hoping these other girls could drag me through and I could finish strong.”
Asked what it meant to break the high school and junior records, Efraimson responded like a pro (which she is), saying, “It means my coach and I have been training really hard and we can just progress from here.”
Efraimson made the decision last year to forego her high school eligibility and to turn pro and the run today validates that decision. Up next is an 800 at Harry Jerome and of course high school graduation. Then she’ll be off to the University of Portland, where she will attend classes but continue to train with coach Hickey.
In addition to her running, Efraimson has another claim to fame. She’s part of the US running couple of the year. Her prom date was Matthew Maton, who earlier this month became the sixth US high schooler to go sub-4 in the mile. He was was on hand at Pre not to run, but to cheer on his prom date.
We snapped a picture of the running couple at Pre.
Maton was impressed with Efraimson, saying, “It was awesome. She really stuck with it and went for it. It was awesome.” And he also was confident about the future: “I think she’s going to be a lot faster.”
Quick Take #1: While Mary Cain has struggled tremendously this year, only running 4:15.42, Efraimson owes Cain some gratitude for the record today. If Cain didn’t take the record to 4:04, we don’t know if Efraimson would have run 4:03 today. Cain helped set a precedent for high schoolers going pro and paved a path for Efraimson to follow. Would Nike have sponsored Efraimson if Cain hadn’t worked out so well for them? Who knows? We have no idea who will be the better runner as a pro, but it is hard to believe that America has two women under the age of 20 who have run sub-4:05.
(And Cain can still get her American junior record back. She’s only 19 and still eligible to break junior records. Efraimson is only 18 and can break junior records for another year).
QT #2: The NCAA record for women until 2009 was 4:06.17. Now two US high schoolers have run faster.
*Some argue that Alexa Efraimson did not break an American high school record. Perhaps we should just say she ran the fastest time by an American high schooler. A viewer writes, “Since Efraimson is a professional, her 4:03 is not a high school record. In fact, it is not even the fastest 1500 by a US high schooler. Maria Mutola ran 1:57 and 4:02 while attending Springfield High School in Oregon. She was, like Efraimson, a professional.”