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Concord High senior wins national title

Majak outruns field in 2-mile competition

When Guor Majak arrived in New York City four years ago, he was running from his war-ravaged homeland. Running to America. Running for his future.

He and his uncle, who fled Sudan for Egypt and eventually the U.S., settled in New Hampshire, with Majak weaving himself into the fabric of Concord High School athletics.

Yesterday, though, Majak was back in New York, once again running in the city that has long opened its arms to immigrants. In his adopted homeland, Majak outran the top 2-milers in the country to capture the national high school 2-mile title at the 22nd annual National Scholastic Indoor Championships.

'It means a lot,' Majak said by phone, just minutes after his title run. 'It means a lot to me and to the community I'm in, the people around me, my coach, my teammates, the school.'

Majak entered the nationals ranked fourth, and he kept himself firmly entrenched in the pack in the early going.

'The first mile was really slow,' Majak said. 'I don't like that, not at all.'

At the halfway point, as the runners were getting their bearings and keeping an eye on each other, Majak was running at a 4-minute, 45-second mile clip.

'The first mile was very tactical, very slow,' Concord Coach Rusty Cofrin said. 'As they went by, I started screaming at them that there's still another (heat) and that they're good runners.'

As expected, the pace picked up for the final mile.

'After one mile, I got warmed up,' Majak said. 'We were kind of just switching (the lead) with other kids, then I just took off.'

With less than 100 yards to go, Majak 'found another gear,' Cofrin said. But Peter Doroshuk of Winnipeg, Manitoba, reeled him in 30 yards from the finish.

'Then Guor found a 10th gear,' Cofrin said.

The two matched strides as they approached the line, with Majak edging Doroshuk by the lean of his chest. Both finished with identical times of 9:20.69. Steve Chaloner of Merrimack, the only other New Hampshire runner in the 24-man field, finished fourth.

'I knew I had to push, but I think I had a little bit of a kick,' Majak said. 'I thought if I can just hold on to the finish, whoever has the kick can take the lead.

'I did think I had a shot at it. I was feeling confident.'

Majak had reason to be confident; he was coming off a state record-setting run to capture the Class L indoor 3,000 with a time of 8:46.58. Just last weekend, he finished runner-up in the 2-mile at the New England Indoor Championships, half a second off the pace at 9:17.06. But his senior year has been far from a jog in the park.

He struggled through injuries late in the cross country season. And though he won the state championship, the stress-related injuries cropped up again at a cold and snowy New Englands.

'After that, I made him rest for four weeks,' Cofrin said. 'He didn't like me those four weeks. He came into indoor track out of shape, but with a base from what he'd done in the past. I knew it wasn't going to be a problem. It was just a matter of getting him healthy.'

As a 19-year-old, Majak would have been ineligible to compete this year for Concord High, but he was given two more seasons (cross country and indoor track) because of his extenuating circumstances. Yesterday, in his final race for Concord High, his adopted homeland crowned him its high school national champion.

Now he's looking ahead to running in college, where he's narrowed his choices to Iowa State, La Salle, Kentucky, Connecticut and New Hampshire. But first, a look back at New York brought his last four years full circle.

'We were sitting to dinner at a restaurant that had a view of LaGuardia Airport,' Cofrin said, 'and Guor said, 'You see that airport?' When he was up in his room looking through a book, he remembered that picture from when he flew into LaGuardia from Sudan to Egypt to here. He remembered seeing this island (Long Island Sound).

'It all kind of tied in. He's a very thankful kid. And this puts it all in perspective.'

By SANDY SMITH

Monitor staff

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