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2004 Roy Griak Invitational
Saturday, Sept. 25
9 a.m. Women's Maroon III Race 9:45 a.m. Men's Maroon Race 10:35 a.m . Women's Maroon II Race 11:20 a.m. Men's Gold Race 12:10 p.m. Women's Gold Race 12:55 p.m. Boys' Gold High School Race 1:40 p.m. Girls' Gold High School Race 2:25 p.m. Boys' Maroon High School Race 3:10 p.m. Girls' Maroon High School Race
The 19th Griak Invitational The 19th annual running of the Roy Griak Invitational will be contested on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Les Bolstad Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The meet, the largest cross country meet in the nation, is expected to number over 3,000 competitors combining all collegiate levels and high school.
A Minnesota Legend The Roy Griak is named after a living legend, former Golden Gopher cross country and track coach Roy Griak. Griak has spent the last 41 years with the Minnesota Athletics Department, 33 of those coaching. Since his retirement from the coaching ranks in 1996, Griak has served as the administrative assistant for the men's cross country and track programs. Griak will celebrate his 81st birthday on Oct. 5.
The Price of Admission
Ticket prices for the 2004 Griak are $5 for adults and $2 for youth. Children under 6 years of age are free. No pets will be allowed on the course.
And the Winner is...
Team and individual results of the 2004 Griak Invitational will be placed on two websites: gophersports.com and onlineraceresults.com.
The Golden Gophers
The Minnesota men's and women's teams head into the Griak, the second meet of their respective seasons, on the heels of impressive season-opening performances.
The Gopher men have advanced to the NCAA Championships for a school-record seven consecutive seasons and expect 2004 to be season number eight. Minnesota opened its season by placing second at the BYU Autumn Classic two weeks ago. While the Gophers placed second to the perennial power Cougars, head coach Steve Plasencia noted the performance was the best for in squad against BYU in several years. Andrew Carlson returned to the Gopher lineup after missing the 2003 campaign to injury and paced Minnesota with a second-place finish.
In addition to Carlson, a 2002 All-American, the Gophers' roster is stacked with athletes who have earned all-region honors during their careers. Joining Carlson in this category are Erik Grumstrup, Ryan Ford, Ryan Malmin, Martin Robeck and Antonio Vega.
The Minnesota women have high goals for the 2004 season, returning to the NCAA Championships for the first time in two years among them. Head coach Gary Wilson expects this season that be the one in which the youth from past seasons in now experienced and talented and ready to help the Gophers take the next step. All-region racer Zoe Nagell tops the list of returners for the Gophers. Also back for her fifth-season is Darja Vasiljeva. Vasiljeva missed the 2003 season with a hamstring injury that required surgery. She owns the top 6-kilometer times in Gopher history and has competed in three NCAA Championships.
Minnesota easily captured the title in the Oz Memorial Run two weeks ago to open its season. Junior Lauren Williams captured her first collegiate victory.
The Largest Griak Expected
Entries indicate the 2004 Roy Griak Invitational will be the largest in the 19-year history of the event. An anticipated 3,000-plus athletes will compete over the nine races on Saturday. The record stands at 2,310 racers in 2003.
Bigger and Better Than Ever
The Roy Griak Invitational will add two races to the schedule in 2004, splitting the high school competitions in Gold and Maroon Races. The 2004 Griak marks the 11th year that high school athletes have competed in the event.
The Griak Gold Race Field
A total of 55 NCAA Division I teams are set to compete in the Gold Races. Twenty-one (21) schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Butler, California, Colorado State, James Madison, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota State, Ohio State, Oregon, Providence, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, Texas Tech, Utah State, Washington State, Wisconsin, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee) will be competing in both the men's and women's Gold Race events. An additional five schools, including Duke, Illinois and Iowa, are only competing in the men's race. Arkansas, Princeton, and Penn State lead a group of eight schools sending just their women's teams to this year's Griak.
The Returning Champions
All five team champions in the collegiate ranks are returning with their sights set on defending their crowns. In the Men's Gold Race, Wisconsin captured the Griak title for a record 10th time in 2003. The Gold Women's Race has been won by 11 teams over the 18-year history of the event with Arizona State grabbing its third crown a year ago.
In the maroon races, Minnesota State, Mankato is poised to make a run at defending its Men's Maroon Race title. Northern Michigan is the two-time defending Women's Maroon II Race champion and Luther hopes to repeat in the Women's Maroon III Race.
Two women have the chance to win consecutive titles in the individual competition. Providence's Kim Smith returns looking to repeat in the Women's Gold Race and Wisconsin-Platteville's Jackie Mulrooney is the defending champion in the Women's Maroon III Race.