"The first victory for Minnesota men in the history of the event," Gophers head coach Steve Plasencia said. "The Griak Invitational is such a part of the fabric of our program. I feel really happy for the guys."
The Gophers' first five runners finished in the top 18. Senior John Simons crossed the finish line eighth with a time of 25:00.2 to lead Minnesota. Junior Andrew Larsen came in close behind in 10th (25:02.9). Sophomore Marcus Paulson (25:09.5) and junior Derek Storkel (25:11.4) finished 15th and 16th, respectively. Senior Pieter Gagnon rounded out the scorers, coming in 18th (25:13.8).
"The field is a little smaller this year than it was in the past," Gophers head coach Steve Plasencia said. "We thought we could be up in the pack. We had five (runners) within 14 seconds, which is a tremendous spread for our guys."
Kelly Wiebe won his second individual crown. The Regina senior won the Maroon II race in 2010, and added a Gold title today with a time of 24:18.8. Wiebe also finished fourth in last year's Gold Race.
"I just wanted to stick with the lead pack," Wiebe said. "I actually was not feeling very good, but guys dropped off, and I gradually broke away from the lead pack."
The Gopher women finished third, two places higher than last year. The two teams they finished behind--Iowa State and Weber State--were NCAA Championships qualifiers in 2011 along with Minnesota.
"I thought we had a pretty good meet," head coach Gary Wilson said. "We struggled a little in the middle, but came back strong."
Junior Laura Docherty led Minnesota's effort today. She beat out Iowa's Mareike Schrulle for fourth place at the end of the race after moving up from around the sixth or seventh spot in last two kilometers. All five Gopher scorers were in the top 30. Sophomore Molly Kayfes finished 11th in 21:38.5. Juniors Ashlie Decker (17th), Katie Moraczewski (24th), and Rachel Drake (30th) rounded out the team's top five.
"The Griak is kind of a midterm and they did a pretty good job on their midterm," Wilson said. "We just need to make some tweaks and get ready for Big Tens, regionals, and nationals."
Iowa State took both the team and individual titles. Senior Betsy Saina, who finished seventh at last year's Griak, led the whole way today. She pulled away from her teammate Meaghan Nelson (the runner-up) and Weber State's Amber Henry (third) around the three-kilometer mark.
"We had a different plan before the start of the race because we did not know who was here," Saina said. "However, I saw the pace picking up, and I couldn't stay with Meaghan, my teammate. I decided it was time to focus, and I just kept going. When I looked up things were going great."