Gophers Kick Off 2013 with Oz Memorial
Sep 4, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS- The Minnesota men's cross country team opens the 2013 on Friday with the Oz Memorial Run at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The Oz Memorial Run will feature a women's 6-kilometer race at 6:40 p.m. CT followed by a men's 6-kilometer race at 7:20.
Five men's programs will compete in this year's field with Drake, Minnesota State, North Dakota and South Dakota State joining the Gophers.
Last Time Out
The Gophers are coming off a seventh-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional and a fifth-place finish at the 2012 Big Ten Cross Country Championships. Fifth-year senior John Simons earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors last season for the Gophers and paced the team with an 11th-place performance at the conference championships.
Minnesota had three runners in the top 15 performers at the 2012 Oz Memorial Run in Alex Brend (sixth overall, 19:23.40), Blayne Dulian (12th, 19:40.62) and Christian Skaret (14th, 19:47.25). All three return to the Gophers in 2013.
Honoring Roy Griak
The 2013 Minnesota men's cross country season marks the 50th year of service to the University of Minnesota by legendary coach Roy Griak. Griak served as the head coach of the Minnesota men's cross country team from 1963-1996 and led the Gophers to three Big Ten titles. Griak has remained on staff as an administrative assistant since handing over the reigns of the program to current Director of Men's Track & Field and Cross Country Steve Plasencia. Minnesota honors its long-time coach each Fall with the Roy Griak Invitational -- the 28th running of the Griak is scheduled for Sept. 28.
Success Under Plasencia
Now in his 18th season at the helm of the Minnesota men's cross country program, Director of Men's Track & Field and Cross Country Steve Plasencia has continued to guide the Gophers program to successful season after successful season. During his 17-year tenure, the Gophers have earned 14 NCAA Championship bids as well as three NCAA regional titles. Plasencia has also coached the Gophers to a total of 12 All-America honors, 28 All-Big Ten honors and 85 Academic All-Big Ten accolades. A two-time All-American for the Gophers, Plasencia still holds the school record for a 10-kilometer race.
About the Oz Memorial
The Oz Memorial is named in memory of former Drake coach Gary Osborn, who passed away on May 21, 2000. Osborn was a longtime friend of former Minnesota women's cross country head coach Gary Wilson. Osborn served as the head coach of the Drake women's cross country program from 1989-99 and also assumed the head coaching duties of the women's track & field program during the 1993-94 season. Under Osborn's guidance, Drake won consecutive Missouri Valley Conference cross country titles in 1994 and 1995, as well as 1998. In all, Osborn spent 32 years involved in coaching at Drake.
Osborn was named the MVC Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1983, when he guided Drake to within one point of the league title. Osborn was also honored by the league in 1994 and 1995. In 1989, he was named the Gateway Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year. A native of Winterset, Iowa, Osborn was a seven-time placewinner in the MVC, competing for Drake in the high and intermediate hurdles and the 100 and 220-yard dashes.