Alexa Efraimson is a senior at Camas High School in Camas, Wash. She ran really, really fast this weekend. Like, national record fast - 4:03.39 for 1500m. That equates to 4:21.28 for 1600m and 4:22.79 for one mile. Her time, clocked en route to a seventh-place finish at the Prefontaine Classic, broke Mary Cain's American junior record [4:04.62].
But is it a national high school record?
Efraimson is certainly a high school student, albeit a soon-to-be graduate. But she is no amateur, as 'high school' status typically implies, as she signed a professional running contract with Nike to train and compete in her sport. Media outlets from Runner's World to Letsrun.com to the Huffington Post have reported different facts since the historic run in Eugene on Saturday.
For the record... A 'junior record' refers simply to age; any athletes younger than 20 years old are considered 'juniors,' as one must be under age 20 to compete at any USATF Junior National events or IAAF World Junior Championships.
But the concept of a 'high school record' is a little bit trickier to navigate.
"Once an athlete becomes a Professional, they are ineligible to hold HS records or be listed in the main list of yearly high school performers. We do list high schoolers who are professionals but they go below the regular list as 'Professionals but ineligible for regular high school list.'
"It is the same rationale for listing high school athletes that compete in high school but are fifth-year seniors. Either the athletes were not granted a fifth-year by the state high school association but attended high school and competed in open competition or they were granted a fifth-year and allowed to compete but were, in reality, fifth year seniors."
"[Training], it's been really good. Nike has given me a lot of opportunities," Efraimson said after her record-setting performance. "I've been training hard and even though some people didn't agree with my choice to go pro, it's different for everybody and so far, it's been working out for me."
MileSplit also does not include professional athletes in the database rankings, no matter their age or grade in school. The entire debate on including or excluding professional high school runners was not part of any conversation until Cain turned pro as a senior in 2013. By then, she had already qualified to compete on the senior level for Team USA. That moment came without precedent and that school year, MileSplit included her times in the national rankings database. So, too, this winter, were Efraimson's marks initially included on the MileSplit network database.
The Camas, Wash. star, who accompanied fellow prep standout and sub-four minute miler Matthew Maton to his prom just a few weeks ago, is not currently included in any MileSplit rankings.
The intents and purposes of the MileSplit rankings are to track amateur high school students. By signing a professional contract, Efraimson gave up her amateur status.
The 4:03.39 stands as the American junior record and as Letsrun.com pointed out, both Efraimson and Cain have time left - two years and one year, respectively, to whittle it down even lower.
But it is not a high school record.
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