The 2008 Roy Griak Invitational is underway. Race recaps will be posted here all afternoon.
Plenty of Maroon and Gold was up front in the women’s Gold race of Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course, but it was Minnesota that pulled away from Arizona State for its second consecutive team title.
The two similarly-dressed teams took charge of the field from the outset and combined to have the top six finishers, including nine of the top 13 scorers. Minnesota’s 31 team points was the lowest the Gophers have scored at the Griak, while Arizona State, last year’s fourth place team at the NCAA championships, totaled 43 team points. It was the third time the Gophers have won the Griak team title, having also done so in 2007 and 2000. Minnesota edged Arizona State by three points for last year’s Griak team crown.
Arizona State had the individual champion as Kari Hardt pulled away to win in 21:19. Megan Duwell from Minnesota was second in 21:26.
“We wanted to get our first three runners up front in the first 2,500 meters,” Hardt said of the Sun Devils’ strategy. “We stayed together and that really helped.”
“I felt really happy about my race,” Duwell said. “I was hoping to go out there and stay confident. The fans helped a whole bunch and they were amazing out there. They really cheered us on and motivated us. I was able to work with my teammates and together we were able to push up front and stay competitive.”
Arizona State had the top three runners at the midway point of the race, but Minnesota’s Gabrielle Anderson and Jamie Cheever helped break up the Sun Devils’ lead by cracking into the front group and posting fourth and fifth place finishes. Anderson, who went out to the early lead through the first mile, placed fourth in 21:32 and Cheever was fifth in 21:36. Arizona State’s Jenna Kingma was third in 21:30 and Ali Kielty was sixth in 21:38.
Minnesota sealed the team title with solid performances from its fourth and fifth runners. Heather Dorniden was ninth in 21:43 and Mallory Van Ness was 11th in 21:44. Amy Laskowske added a 13th place finish in 21:49, giving the Gophers six of the top 13 performances.
New Mexico placed third with 89 points as Michelle Corrigan was eighth in 21:40 and Carolyn Boosey was 10th in 21:44. Duke placed fourth in the team standings with 105 points and Portland was fifth with 157 points.
Hassan Mead’s runner-up finish led Minnesota to a fourth place team finish in the men’s Gold race at Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
Mead covered 8,000 meters in 24:08 as the Gophers repeated their fourth place finish from a year ago with 107 points. Adams State (Colo.), the top-ranked team in the NCAA Division II, surprised the Division I field by running away with the team title with 75 points. Iowa State was second with 89 points and Brigham Young was third with 91 points.
Through the first two miles, the lead pack consisted of about 10 runners before Auburn’s Elkanah Kibet took off and set the pace. Mead followed and also broke away from the pack, but Kibet was too strong the rest of the way and cruised to the individual title in 23:56.
“I kind of laid back for the first two miles and from there I really took off,” Kibet said. “That was my plan coming in and it really seemed to work.”
Mead took advantage of the home crowd to earn his runner-up finish. “Coming into the race I kind of had some pressure on me a little bit, but I blocked that out and focused on the race,” said the sophomore from Minneapolis. “I knew my competitors were there, but I couldn’t really pay attention because I had to get through the race. I was glad to have a big-time audience and it was great.”
Minnesota’s Chris Rombough, who was third in last year’s Griak, got off to a slow start, but steadily worked his way through the field to finish 13th in 24:35. Mike Torchia added a 21st place finish for the Gophers in 24:55. Matt Barrett edged teammate Mike McFarland by one second to place 35th in 25:13.
Mark Korir of Wyoming had a spirited finishing kick to pass several runners down the stretch and finish third in 24:11. Stephan Shay of Brigham Young was two seconds behind and placed fourth, while Reuben Chebon-Mwei was Adams State’s top finisher at 24:16. The Grizzlies had three runners among the top 11 finishers and six of the top 28 individuals.
Men’s Maroon II
Two of the top four individual collegiate finishers weren’t enough to help Minnesota State defend its men’s Maroon II team title as Drury (Mo.) edged the field for its first team title at Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational.
Nicholas Johnson from Huntington (Ind.) won the individual title and benefitted from a “rabbit” of sorts as former Gopher Justin Grunewald won the race as an unattached competitor. Grunewald finished the 8,000-meter course in 25:09, while Johnson’s official winning time was 25:16.
“The course and the fans are always great here,” Johnson said. “I had a great team to back me up today. It really motivated me up front. Grunewald really gave me all I could handle.”
Johnson’s team placed seventh as Joseph Njeri also turned in a strong effort, running with the lead group for much of the race and placing ninth in 25:46.
Drury totaled 109 points, while Pittsburg State (Kan.) was second with 120 points and Minnesota State finished third with 127 points. Jamie Villa Zapatero helped Drury’s team title by finishing third overall and second among collegians with a time of 25:16. The Panthers also had a 14th place finish from Geoff Hughes in 26:10 and a 16th place effort from Derek Berry in 26:16 to pull out the team crown. Pittsburg State also placed three runners in the top 20.
Minnesota State’s top two runners finished one second apart as James Krajsa was fourth overall in 25:31 and Denisa Mokaya was just behind. Luka Thor of Concordia-Nebraska took the lead in the race for a short time near the 5,000-meter mark, but faltered down the stretch and placed sixth in 25:37.
Men's Maroon III
While UW-La Crosse left little doubt in the chase for the team title in the men’s Maroon III race at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Bethel’s Dan Greeno pulled away in the final mile in an entertaining finish for the individual crown.
Greeno jumped out front from the beginning and ran in a pack of about four runners until holding a slight lead over Brian Chenoweth of Wartburg (Iowa) at about the 5,000 meter mark of the 8,000-meter race. Greeno then looked strong over the final 800 meters to hold off Chenoweth by five seconds and win with a time of 25:23.
“Today I just planned on tucking in the first 5K and it worked out pretty well,” said Greeno, who placed fifth at last year’s Griak and became the first Bethel runner to claim a Griak individual title. “Then I just started to push and it went well. I was feeling great at the four-mile mark and that’s when I knew I could win.”
UW-La Crosse’s team victory was the largest in any collegiate race in the 23-year history of the Griak Invitational. Villanova held the previous record with an 86-point win in the 1989 women’s event.
For UW-La Crosse, it was the Eagles’ second straight Maroon III team title and their fifth Griak team title in seven years. UW-La Crosse had three of the top nine individual finishers as Paul Moran was third in 25:48 and Logan O’Grady was one second behind to place fourth.
Charlie Meade helped Emory (Ga.) place second in the team standings with a fifth place finish in 25:55. Meade made a strong push over the final two miles to come from behind in the pack for the top five finish and help his squad earn 141 team points, which was six better than third place Ohio Northern. Hamline finished fourth overall with 156 points and UW-Platteville was fifth with 161 points.
Women's Maroon II
A tight race turned into an easy win for a first-time Roy Griak Invitational participant as Minnesota Duluth freshman Morgan Place pulled away from the field for a 14-second victory in the women’s Maroon II race on Saturday at Les Bolstad Golf Course.
The team title also wasn’t close as Augustana (S.D.) dominated the field for its second straight crown with 54 points. Pittsburg State (Kan.) was second with 129 points.
Place ran 22:16 to become the first freshman to win the Maroon II race since the Maroon races were split into Divisions II and III in 2002. She is also the first Minnesota Duluth runner to win a Griak title. Place and teammate Liz Palkie helped the Bulldogs finish fourth as Palkie was third overall in 22:34. Minnesota Duluth had 161 points to finish one point behind Northern Sun Conference rival Minnesota State. Black Hills State (S.D.) finished fifth with 167 points.
Place was running behind a group of about four runners, but took over the competition about 4,000 meters into the 6,000-meter event. Obsie Birru of Grand View (Iowa) finished second in 22:30.
“It’s definitely really surreal,” said Place, who starred at Ellsworth (Wis.) High School a year ago. “I didn’t expect to come out here and win Griak. I knew that I wanted to finish high and I knew what kind of times I wanted to get, but it’s definitely surreal and you can’t even begin to put it into words.”
Courtney Ayers of Southwest Baptist (Mo.) was fourth overall in 22:38 and Alyssa Anderson led the strong Augustana contingent with a fifth place performance in 22:45. Anderson was among five Vikings’ runners in the top 18 finishers.
Women’s Maroon III
Trading the top spot numerous times throughout the 6,000 meters, UW-River Falls’ Becca Jordahl outlasted Bethel’s Marie Borner down the stretch to defend her Roy Griak Invitiational Maroon III championship on Saturday at Les Bolstad Golf Course.
Jordahl eclipsed her own meet record by just over two seconds with a time of 21:59.9. Boerner also surpassed the previous record with her 22:01 time as Jordahl maintained about a 10-meter lead throughout the final mile. Boerner was also second to Jordahl last season, but by a 29-second margin.
Jordahl, Boerner and Anna Kraayenbrink of Wartburg (Iowa) separated themselves from the pack in the second mile and ran as a trio until Jordahl and Boerner pulled away with just over a mile remaining. Kraayenbrink finished third overall with a time of 22:16 and Katie Theisen of St. Thomas was fourth in 22:32. Janet Dobsyn of Luther (Iowa) rounded out the top five in 22:44.
“It was really a hard race and I had a couple of girls on my tail for most of the time,” said Jordahl, who won the NCAA Division III outdoor track championship in the 5,000 meters and led her team to the overall title last spring. “The competition just made it that much harder and that’s how a race is supposed to feel. Overall it was just great competition.”
UW-Eau Claire captured its first Griak team championship, rolling to a 41-point victory over second-place Wartburg. The Blugolds tallied 110 points and placed three runners among the top 15 finishers. Mary Palmer was seventh in 22:51, Elly Prunty was 14th in 23:17 and Beth Easker was 15th in 23:19.
Defending champion UW-La Crosse was third with 160 points, while Carleton was fourth with 170 points and St. Thomas was fifth with 183 points.