In 2011, Mount Rainier High’s Jordan McPhee had it free and easy. She was nearly unbeatable at any race longer than a few city blocks – in cross country or during track and field.
Part of her three 4A titles was a state girls’ cross country triumph in Pasco, capping an undefeated sophomore fall season.
Then along came Camas High’s Alexa Efraimson, considered the next distance-racing dynamo this state has seen. Besides an unmatched desire to win, she has speed and stamina.
That is why the 4A girls showdown Saturday at the Westside Classic – the West Central/Southwest District cross country championships – was so intriguing. Which standout would take a 1-up lead?
On a cold, rainy day, covering a soft, muddy 5-kilometer course, Efraimson did – and impressively by winning the girls district title in 17 minutes, 52 seconds.
It was only the fourth-fastest mark in this meet’s history at this venue behind Jefferson’s Kenna Patrick (17:40 in 2006), Gig Harbor’s Alyssa Andrews (17:45 in 2008) and Bellarmine Prep’s Brie Felnagle (17:50 in 2004). But considering those girls posted those times on a less-challenging layout – and not under the miserable conditions of Saturday – Efraimson’s showing was equally dominant.
And, oh by the way – Efraimson is ranked 11th in the country in girls high school cross country.
“I just know my intensity is a lot higher than last year,” said Efraimson, a sophomore. “Of course, that is what I look forward to in races, someone pushing me so I can race the best of me.”
At the halfway point Saturday, Efraimson and McPhee were neck and neck. And coming down one of the steepest hills on the course, Efraimson pulled away.
“I kind of let her go,” McPhee said.
Handed just her second career loss at a cross country race in Washington – both standouts lost to North Central’s Katie Knight at the Richland Invitational earlier this month – McPhee is going through a bit of an adjustment period.
“It is definitely a different mentality when you … lose. You have to keep pushing yourself more and it takes a lot more to get back out there than it does when you keep winning,” McPhee said.
“I had it so nice last year winning it all. It is different. And I am still trying to get used to it.”
For meet results, click here.