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Maiorano shines at Arcadia Invitational

South Medford senior runs second fastest 2-mile time in Oregon prep history

Like any athlete, South Medford senior Michael Maiorano wants to try and get as many wins as he can whenever he takes to the track.

But even with a sixth-place finish at the Arcadia Invitational last Saturday night in Southern California, Maiorano put himself into elite territory.

Maiorano’s 2-mile time of 8 minutes, 46.92 seconds this past weekend was the second-fastest time at that distance in state history, second only to the legendary Steve Prefontaine, who set the top mark of 8:41.5 in 1969.

“Arcadia is probably the deepest field in track and field for distance,” Maiorano said. “In over half of the years, 8:46 or so would win. I’ve run one 3,200 (meters) before and it was one of the best races in my life, so to PR from that by five or six seconds was super cool, too.”

Maiorano knew he ran a pretty good time even with the sixth-place finish. But it wasn’t until a late-night dinner Saturday that Maiorano realized that he was in the same conversation as Prefontaine after his outing only a few hours earlier.

It was a text from his future coach Pat Tyson at Gonzaga University, who was a teammate of Prefontaine’s at Oregon, that tipped Maiorano off to where he might have just come in at on the all-time list, and then confirmed by Phoenix High track coach John Cornet, who helps maintain state records.

Maiorano’s time currently ranks as the seventh-fastest nationally this season.

“Prefontaine always said he ran best when he ran free and ran confident,” said Maiorano. “Now, after running this 3,200, it kinda put me in the same sentence as someone like Pre, so it’s kinda ironic and a pretty cool thing.”

With his time, Maiorano — who signed with Gonzaga back in early December — was able to surpass another notable local distance runner he looked up to in former Ashland standout and current University of Oregon runner EJ Holland, who recorded a two-mile time of 8:50.29 in 2019.

“EJ was great to me and really took me under his wing, but before anybody knew who I was, just getting a text back from him lit me up,” said Maiorano.

Oregon high school runners typically just compete in the 3,000-meter run, with the two-mile becoming less and less frequent after the late 1970s.

The 3,000 is the distance that Maiorano is most used to during the track season, but it was this trip down to Southern California in which he got to run the full two miles.

And it just so happened that the field for the 3,200 was absolutely loaded.

Colin Sahlman of Newbury Park in California won the two-mile in 8:34.99.

“The Arcadia Invitational bills itself as the best in-season track meet in the United States for high schoolers, and that’s what we saw,” said South Medford track coach David Kirkpatrick. “There were, I counted, at least 10 nation-leading performances that were set, including the race that Michael was in. The level of competition that Michael was in was at a whole different level. That 3,200 field that Michael was in was the fastest ever assembled in high school history on average.”

Along with Adam Cannon, Chase Wallace and Connor Singer, Maiorano was also part of South Medford’s 4x1,600 relay team that set a school record with a time of 18:26.44. That was on the first night of competition in Arcadia, which meant Maiorano was nowhere nearly fully rested or running on fresh legs for the two-mile run the next day.

“I did feel kinda crappy that morning,” admitted Maiorano. “I was really tired and when I did my shakeout that morning, the legs were feeling kinda dead. But races where you feel your worst you don’t tend to do very good and races where you feel your best you don’t tend to do very good, so that medium ground I feel good about.”

Maiorano was in the mix for a top-three finish until the final 200 meters when he was caught by a pair of runners.

Overall, he said he was “pretty happy” with the time he posted.

“I’ve raced twice this year and I feel like both times it was like my workouts are indicating I’m in the best shape of my life,” said Maiorano. “I ran these times in practice and maybe I’m in my head but I feel like I was in a slump. Then heading down there (to Arcadia) I thought that if there was a place to run a fast time, this is the place to run a fast time.”

He did just that.

“Andrew Walker and I were watching the race and we looked at each other and said, ‘He’s running the best race of his life,’” said Kirkpatrick. “It was a really cool thing to see there.”

“As an Oregon runner, that’s the goal to have your name next to Steve Prefontaine,” added Kirkpatrick. “That’s just the coolest thing ever.”

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

South Medford senior Michael Maiorano, left, ran the second-fastest 2-mile time in Oregon high school history at the Arcadia Invitational in Arcadia, Calif., this past Saturday night. Photo courtesy of David Kirkpatrick.