Simons Paces Gophers at Griak

Sept. 28, 2013

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John Simons


FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - With rain falling throughout the day, John Simons paced the University of Minnesota men's cross country team with a sixth-place finish on Saturday at the 28th Annual Roy Griak Invitational as the Gophers finished eighth overall in the Merrill Fischbein Men's Gold Race.

Simons, a senior captain this year for the Gophers, improved both his finish and time from his first Griak run a year ago. The Hartland, Wis., native and 2012 Second Team All-Big Ten honoree posted a time of 24:33 this year - nearly a half minute faster than his Griak time last year (25:00.2).

The Gophers fought adversity throughout the race on Saturday along with poor weather conditions as rain soaked Les Bolstad Golf Course for most of the day. Senior captain Andrew Larsen tripped near the starting line while senior Steve Sulkin, who won the Oz Memorial earlier this year on the same course, lost a shoe in the ensuing fracas.

"We had some adversity to start off the race, but that's going to happen from time to time," Gophers Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Steve Plasencia said. "This is the first race of the year for a lot of our guys, and we have to learn from today and move forward starting next week."

Larsen battled back to finish 41st overall on Saturday with a time of 24:09.8, just seconds off his 10th-place pace from a year ago. Meanwhile, sophomore Adam Zutz finished 56th overall in 25:18.3, and senior captain Derek Storkel came across the line at 25:21.2 to finish 59th. Sophomore Alex Brend recorded Minnesota's fifth score with a 73rd-place finish (71st among attached runners) and a time of 25:31.1.

No. 4 ranked BYU swept the Merrill Fischbein Men's Gold Race team and individual titles on Saturday. The Cougars totaled 62 team points to beat out runner-up Colorado State (74) while BYU senior Tylor Thatcher was first to cross the finish line on Saturday afternoon in a time of 24:25.2. Arizona State (139), Adams State (147), Oklahoma (152), Michigan State (219) and North Carolina State (223) rounded out the top seven followed by the Gophers with 231 team points.

The Gophers return to action this Friday at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

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