Cleveland, Oh. — Young Alexa Efraimson put her abundant talent on display last night in Portland, Oregon, clocking 2:01:13 for 800 meters at the Portland Twilight meet, a time which slots her # 3 on the all-time U.S. list for high school aged girls behind Mary Cain and the late Kim Gallagher. It was a fine piece of running by the Camus, Washington native who turned pro last year in lieu of exploring a collegiate running career, a decision that Cain had also made the year before.
But even as Alexa showed her stuff, we are reminded that Mary Cain has come off the boil. After two years of blistering performances, including a spate of records from 800 to 5000 meters, reaching the finals in the 1500 meters 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, and a win at the World Juniors 3000 meter champs in Eugene last summer, the Bronxville, New York native has come into 2015 under performing. Her indoor season was lackluster, and in her three outdoor 1500s to date she has yet to break 4:15. Last Thursday she finished 11th in a 12-person 1500 at the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic at Occidental College in L.A.
Efraimson and Cain are just the latest two high school aged phenoms who matured early and were capable of national and even international caliber performances. But there is nothing automatic about youthful talent, and the road ahead holds no guarantees of future success.
This past weekend I was in Cleveland for the 38th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and 10Km, races I have covered since 1978. Racing in Cleveland this year was another prodigious young talent with high hopes, and another former youth superstar who serves as a cautionary tale for all who follow. Continue reading