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Eric Peterson, Published May 08 2010

College track and field: Mavs’ Krajsa is a hometown winner

A chilly, wet Friday at Alex Nemzek Stadium served as a homecoming for Minnesota State Mankato senior distance runner James Krajsa.

The Moorhead High School graduate – who grew up a few miles away from the stadium – thought the facility was a fitting place for him to compete in his final Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“When I found out we were having conference here, I was really excited,” Krajsa said. “It’s my last year. It’s a great way to end the season. My friends and my family are going to be able to watch me. … It’s a lot more special to me that way.”

Krajsa breezed to first place in the 10,000 meters on Day 1 of the conference meet, earning his first NSIC outdoor track title.

He finished the race in a time of 31 minutes, 11.30 seconds, crossing the finish line as a light rain fell on a day that saw temperatures hover around 40 degrees.

“He’s rugged,” Mavericks coach Mark Schuck said. “The worse the weather, the better he looks compared to the other kids.”

His parents – Ken and Kay Krajsa – were among a group of supporters near the finish line that cheered James as he completed the race. Krajsa pumped his left arm in the air as he crossed the finish line, nearly 30 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.

“I was excited to win, excited to see my parents and my family cheer me on,” he said. “It got me going.”

Krajsa also qualified for today’s finals in the 1,500 meters. He placed fourth in his heat (4:04.76), running the sixth best time on the day. However, that was by design to save his legs for the 10,000 meters later in the day. Krajsa had the top time in the 1,500 coming into the meet.

Krajsa – who has won two NSIC cross country titles and also one indoor crown in the 1,000 meters – is also set to run in today’s 5,000 meters. He has the top time in the conference in that event, too.

“He’s smart,” Schuck said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s got his head on straight. All those qualities and he’s got some talent. We can thank his parents for that.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.