High school champion distance runner Alexa Efraimson has signed a contract to run professionally for Nike and will therefore forgo her prep and college eligibility, the Web site DyeStat reported Monday.
Efraimson, 17, competed for Camas High School in Camas, Wash., and set a pair of American high-school records as a junior. She ran 9:00.16 in the indoor 3,000 meters in February against a field of collegiate runners to break recent high school graduate Mary Cain’s 2013 mark by nearly two seconds. She also ran the 1,600 meters in 4:33.29 in May to top the previous record of 4:33.82 set by California’s Christine Babcock in 2008.
The rising senior also earned a bronze medal in the 1,500 meters at the World Youth Championships and was the 2013 Nike Cross Nationals champion in the invitational cross country meet.
“My family and I along with my coach, we did a lot of pros and cons list to whether to go to college or go professionally,” Efraimson said in a video interview with DyeStat. “And for my personal improvement both as an athlete and as an overall person, like mentally and physically, I think that being able to stay with what we know and be able to go professionally is just the best route for me.”
Efraimson will remain with her current coach, Michael Hickey, and still plans on attending college as a student.
“I think I’ll have a little more access to different facilities and different activities that maybe some professional runners also get to use,” she said of turning pro instead of running in college. “Also, just continuing upping the mileage and endurance and strength and conditioning and overall training in general.”
This marks the second consecutive year in which a female high school distance runner has turned pro before graduating, following Cain’s decision last November.
“I think she’s been a little bit influential for me,” Efraimson said of Cain, who runs professionally with the Nike Oregon Project. “She’s a great competitor; she’s a great racer. Just being able to see that she’s done really well as a professional, that sort of shows that it all depends on what kind of runner you are and if this works for you. And it’s worked for her and I think it will work for me.”