25th Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday
Golden Gopher Cross Country This Week:
25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational
Falcon Heights, Minn.
Les Bolstad Golf Course
9 a.m. Women’s Maroon III Race
9:50 a.m. Women’s Maroon II Race
10:40 a.m. Men’s Maroon III Race
11:30 a.m. Men’s Maroon II Race
12:20 p.m. Merrill Fischbein Men’s Gold Race
1:10 p.m. Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race
1:45 p.m. Goldy’s Kids Run
2 p.m. Larry Zirgibel Boys’ Gold HS Race
2:50 p.m. Girls’ Gold High School Race
3:40 p.m. Boys’ Maroon High School Race
4:30 p.m. Girls’ Maroon High School Race
Golden Gopher Watch List — Sept. 21, 2010
• Minnesota Hosts 25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational - The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams will host the 25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The meet is one of the largest in the nation each year. A record number of race participants are expected in 2010.
• Gophers Among Talented Griak Fields - The Golden Gophers will compete against several teams whom they ran against in the 2009 NCAA Championships. The Griak Gold Men’s Race has six teams that competed in the NCAAs last fall, while the Griak Women’s Gold Race features nine NCAA squads.
• Gopher All-American Mead to Miss Season - Gopher senior All-American Hassan Mead will miss the 2010 season due to injury. Mead won the 2009 Griak Gold Race and Big Ten titles in 2008 and 2009.
• Gophers are Nationally Ranked - The Minnesota men’s and women’s teams are ranked No. 27 and No. 28, respectively, in this week’s USTFCCCA national poll.
• Want Even More Information? - Check out Minnesota’s website gophersports.com for further information on the Griak Invitational, including a list of competing teams, course maps, admission prices and parking instructions.
Minnesota Hosts 25th Annual Griak Invitational
The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams will play host to the 25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The Griak annually is one of the largest cross country meets in the nation.
Roy Griak - A Minnesota Legend
The Roy Griak Invitational is named after a living legend, former Golden Gopher cross country and track coach Roy Griak. Griak has spent the last 47 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, who has attended 23 of the 24 Invitationals, will celebrate his 87th birthday on Oct. 5.
Details, Details: Admission, Parking, Etc.
Ticket prices for the 2010 Griak are $5 for adults and $2 for students. Children under 6 years of age are free. No pets will be allowed on the course. Spectator parking is available on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. A shuttle bus will be running continuously from the Fairgrounds to the Griak entrance.
And the Winner Is...
Team and individual results of the 2010 Griak Invitational will be placed on the Golden Gophers’ website gophersports.com as quickly as possible following the completion of each race.
Men’s Gold Race Named After Fischbein
Long-time cross country/track official Merrill Fischbein will be honored on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Roy Griak Invitational. The collegiate men’s 8-kilometer race will be named the Merrill Fischbein Men’s Gold Race. Fischbein is the third person to be so honored by having a Griak race named after them, following the late Jack Johnson (Gold Women’s) and the late Larry Zirgibel (Boy’s High School Gold).
Fischbein served as the Roy Griak Invitational’s supervisor of officials for the last 24 years until his recent retirement from officiating cross country/track events. Overall, Fischbein has officiated these events for over 45 years and has helped Minnesota host countless regular-season meets and Big Ten Conference Championships.
“This is a great, great honor to have this race named after me,” said Fischbein. “To have something carry your name, especially something you love, something you can see and experience, and for it to happen in your lifetime is extremely special. I’m very honored.”
Bergan, Wick Are Honorary Referees in 2010
The Roy Griak Invitational will have two honorary referees oversee race day. The 2010 Honorary Griak Invitational Collegiate Referee is retired Iowa State coach Bill Bergan. Bergan’s Cyclone squads dominated the first decade of the Griak Invitational, winning three titles (1989, ‘90, 93) and celebrating six of the first 10 individual Griak titlists.
Iowa State’s and Bergan’s success at the Griak was just a part of a storied 23-year coaching career with the Cyclones. Iowa State won NCAA titles in 1989 and 1990 after winning Griak titles. John Nutall (1989) and Jonah Koech (1990) also went on to NCAA individual crowns after taking Griak medalist honors.
The 2010 Honorary Griak High School Referee is former Minnesota men’s assistant and current Boise State cross country/distance coach Brad Wick.
During Wick’s tenure with the Golden Gophers from 2006-08, Minnesota enjoyed an eighth-place NCAA Championships finish in 2007. Wick helped coach five cross country All-Americans in his years with the Maroon and Gold. It was also during this time that the Elk River, Minn., native served as the high school meet coordinator for the Griak Invitational. Wick was instrumental in building the high school race format into what it is today.
The meet was first contested in 1986 and was named the Minnesota Invitational from 1986-94 and the Norstand Invitational in 1995-96, until it was renamed the Roy Griak Invitational in 1997. The meet has grown from 220 finishers in 1986 to a record 3,505 competitors in 2007. The 2009 event featured 327 teams and 3,358 competitors.
Over 40,000th Griak Finishers
Over the last 24 years, 40,178 runners have completed the Griak course. Entering the 2010 event, 4,165 teams have competed.
Griak Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race Simply Loaded
The Griak Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race is one to look forward to. Nearly a third (9) of the 2009 NCAA Championships field (31) are entered in the meet. Duke (8th) and Minnesota (10th) posted top-10 finishes at the national meet a year ago. Other NCAA teams running in the Gold Race are Providence (11th), New Mexico (13th), Penn State (14th), Iowa State (17th), Arizona State (24th), Baylor (28th) and Arizona (30th). A total of 29 teams are entered in the Gold Race.
Griak Merrill Fischbein Men’s Gold Race Features Talented Field as Well
The Griak Merrill Fischbein Men’s Gold Race is a 22-team field highlighted by six teams that ran in the 2009 NCAA Championships. New Mexico is the top NCAA finisher in the Griak field, posting an eighth-place showing last fall. Other teams coming off NCAA Championships appearance in the 2010 Griak field are Iowa State (16th), BYU (17th), Minnesota (24th), North Carolina State (27th) and Duke (28th)
Iowa State the Men’s and Women’s Defending Champs, New Medalists to be Crowned
Iowa State captured both the men’s and women’s Griak Gold team titles in 2009. The Minnesota women were second, while the Golden Gopher men finished fourth.
New individual Griak Gold champions will be crowned this season. Two Gophers won last year, senior Megan Duwell and junior Hassan Mead. Mead will be redshirting the 2010 season due to an injury.
The Golden Gophers
The Gopher women are a vastly younger squad than in recent years. Minnesota has three NCAA All-Midwest Region performers pacing the team in senior Nikki Swenson, junior Stephanie Price and sophomore Kayla Wagner. Price has emerged as the Gophers’ number-one runner early this season. She has a win in the 2010 Oz Memorial Run to her credit and was a top-25 finisher in the Griak last year. Swenson was eighth, and Wagner 14th in the Griak last year.
The Gopher men are looking to find their identity somewhat with the news that two-time All-American Hassan Mead is lost for the season. The cupboard certainly isn’t bare, but the Gophers to need senior all-region runners Ben Blankenship, Mike Torchia and Mike McFarland to step into the leadership role. Blankenship was fourth in the 2009 Griak.
Gophers Torchia, Wagner Won Griak in High School
A number of the native Minnesotans on the Golden Gopher rosters competed at the Griak during their high school careers. The 2005 Griak Boys Gold champion Mike Torchia and the 2008 Griak Girls Maroon champion Kayla Wagner will compete for Minnesota on Saturday.
On the men’s side, three Griak high school winners went on to run for the Gophers (Forrest Tahdooahnippah (2002), Mike Torchia (2005) and Hassan Mead (2006).
Wagner is the fifth Griak high school champion to later run for the Gophers joining Anna Gullingsrud (1994), Victoria Moses (1996), Stefanie Zeihan (200) and Elizabeth Yetzer (2005).
Gopher Alums Brings Teams to the Griak
There have been several Golden Gopher alumni in the coaching ranks who have brought their teams to compete in the Griak Invitational. It doesn’t happen often in the collegiate Gold Races, however. In 2010, two former Gophers will bring their teams to the Griak in Andrea Grove-McDonogh and Beth Alford-Sullivan.
Grove-McDonogh will bring the Connecticut women to the Griak for the second consecutive season. Grove-McDonogh earned three varsity letters running cross country for the Gophers (1992-94).
Alford-Sullivan’s Penn State squad makes its first return to the Griak field since 2004. Alford-Sullivan earned a cross country varsity letter for the Gophers in 1988.
Griak Notes of Interest
• Only one champion returns among the four Griak Maroon races. Minnesota-Duluth’s Morgan Place captured the Griak Women’s Maroon II Race title in both 2008 and 2009. She could become the first woman to win three collegiate Griak titles.
• Just how good can a Griak field be? Wisconsin-Eau Claire placed third in the Griak Women’s Maroon III Race but went on to win the NCAA Division III team title.
• Only three runners have been able to win the Griak Men’s Gold Race title twice. Providence’s Ben Noad won back-to-back Griak titles in 1997 and 1998 while BYU’s Kip Kangogo won in 2002 and 2003. Wisconsin’s Matt Tegenkamp won the title in 2001 and again in 2004.
• The Griak Women’s Gold Race has also had only two repeat champions, Fran Ten Bensel (Nebraska) in 1991 and 1992, and Kim Smith (Providence) in 2003 and 2004.
• Wisconsin-Platteville’s Tyler Sigl is the first and only three-time Griak collegiate champion. Sigl won the 2005 and 2006 Griak titles in the Men’s Maroon Race, which were contested with scholarship and non-scholarship entries at the time. He won this third title in the Maroon III Race in 2007, the first year the maroon field was split into II and III.
• Other two-time Griak champions are Vladimir Golias (Central Missouri State) - Men’s Maroon in 1997 and 1998; Sarah Anderson (Wisconsin-Superior) - Women’s Maroon in 1997 and 1998 and Jonah Kiptarus. Kiptarus won the 1994 Men’s Maroon title as a member of the Barton County squad, then returned as a Nebraska runner to win the 1996 Men’s Gold crown. The most recent two-time champion is Minnesota-Duluth’s Morgan Place (2008, 2009).
• Minnesota has four Griak titles to its credit, all on the women’s side, with wins in 1988, 2000, 2007 and 2008. The best finish for the Minnesota men was second in 2006.
• The first Golden Gopher to win the individual title was Rasa Michniovaite in 1998.
• In 2009, Megan Duwell and Hassan Mead swept the Griak Gold titles, just the second time in Griak history (Providence in 1997) that the same school won both the individual Gold Race crowns.
• Brigham Young’s Kip Kangogo set the Griak record over an 8-kilometer course, winning in a time of 23:38.9 in 2002.
• The Women’s Gold Race was lengthened from 5K to 6K in 2000. The 2004 champion, Providence’s Kim Smith set the 6K record with a time of 20:10.
• Wisconsin leads the way with 11 Griak men’s titles. The women’s event has had 13 different teams win in the Griak’s 24-year history with Arizona State and Providence each with four team titles leading the way.
• Wisconsin (1997) and Iowa State (2009) are the only schools to win the men’s and women’s Griak titles in the same year.
• Roy Griak has missed only one Griak Invitational in its 24-year history. In 2000, Griak missed the meet to attend a once-in-a-lifetime reunion of World War II Army veterans. Griak will be an award presenter at the meet again this year.
• Minnesota women’s head coach Gary Wilson in is his 26th year with the Golden Gophers. But several coaches bringing teams from the state of Wisconsin have ties to Wilson from his successful coaching stint at Wisconsin-LaCrosse prior to coming to Minnesota, including Wisconsin-Platteville’s Tom Antczak.
• Four teams have used Griak Gold Race titles to help propel them to NCAA Division I team championships: the Wisconsin men in 1988, the Iowa State men in 1989, the Villanova women in 1989 and the Providence women in 1995. Wisconsin was the 2005 Griak runner-up, then went on to win the NCAA title.
• Seven individuals won Griak titles in seasons in which they won the NCAA crown: Villanova’s Vicki Huber in 1989, Iowa State’s John Nuttall in 1989, Iowa State’s Jonah Koech in 1990, Wisconsin’s Kathy Butler in 1995, Providence’s Keith Kelly in 2000, Providence’s Kim Smith in 2004 and Wisconsin’s Simon Bairu in 2005.
• The most athletes to compete in any single Griak race was in 2007, when 563 athletes competed in the Women’s Maroon III Race. The Men’s Maroon Race was split into Maroon II and Maroon III in 2007 after 500 runners competed in 2006.
• Iowa State won the Men’s Gold title in 1989 with 15 points, the only perfect team score in Griak history.
• Griak individual titles have been decided by just one second a total of 10 times in the past 24 years. The most recent occurrence in the Gold Races was in 2006 when Stephanie Rothtein (UC Santa Barbara) edged teammate Lauren Chrstman for the Women’s Gold title. The duo actually recorded the exact time: 21:13. Minnesota Griak medalist, Rasa Michniovaite, also won her race by just a second in 1998.
• The two high school races were added to the Griak Invitational in 1994 and split into Gold and Maroon Races in 2004.
Griak Champions — Women
Arizona State 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005
UC Santa Barbara 2006
Iowa State 2009
Minnesota 1988, 2000, 2007, 2008
Michigan State 2002
North Carolina State 1993
Oregon 1989, 1994
Providence 1995, 1996, 1998, 2004
Wisconsin 1992, 1997
Griak Champions — Men
Adams State 1992, 2008
Brigham Young 2005
Iowa State 1989, 1990, 1993, 2009
Northern Arizona 2007
Providence 1998, 2000
South Florida 1991
Wisconsin 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004