Sept. 20, 2011
If you want to see some fireworks then the Jack Johnson Gold Race of the 2011 Roy Griak Invitational is where you need to be. Nearly 400 runners will line up this year. Eight of the top 30 teams in the nation will be competing in this year’s race, including No. 9 Iowa State, No. 10 Arizona and No. 11 Washington. Race time is set for 1:10 p.m. CT.
The Wildcats of Arizona are the defending champions coming into the race and are returning a good portion of their squad led by Jen Bergman, who guided the Cats last year.
The Roy Griak hosts, the No. 30 Minnesota Golden Gophers, are off to a great start after winning the Oz Memorial for the 11th straight season. Senior All-American Stephanie Price and her 55 teammates are set to get back to the top of the Big Ten Conference. Price comes into the Griak looking for revenge as she finished second overall in last year’s race. The Mankato, Minn., native picked up Big Ten Runner-of-the-Week honors after her performance in week one.
As mentioned earlier, the Gophers come into the season with 56 student-athletes on their 2011 team. Veteran leader Gary Wilson has yet again produced the largest team in the country. The Griak will be a good test to see where his troops compare with others around the country.
Along with Price, sophomores Ashlie Decker, Katie Moraczewski, Maggie Bollig, Laura Docherty and Missa Varpness make up a very talented and explosive pack.
Looking down the line for this year’s race there will be some talented athletes from powerful conferences. Between the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 there are 13 out of the 26 teams represented.
Along with Minnesota, the Big Ten will have Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin. The Spartans won the Big Ten Championship last year and have a solid veteran group back. Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin are all very strong teams and in this conference on any day, one team could be in front of the other.
Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State will be representing the Big 12 at the 2011 Roy Griak. Iowa State finished third overall a year ago, while Kansas and its arch rival Kansas State, were not in attendance last season.
The newly formed Pac-12 Conference is bringing a group of troops from their side of the country. As said before, the Wildcats won the 2010 Roy Griak and are looking to come away with some more hardware. Arizona State, California and Washington all have very solid line ups and should bring some heat to the competition this year.
With last year’s Jack Johnson Individual champion Laura Hoer, from North Carolina State back in the field; the atmosphere at Les Bolstad Golf Course will be on fire. Hoer won last year as a freshman and was the first freshman to win the race since 1999. Hoer, along with Minnesota’s Price, were neck and neck all 6-kilometers last year, but Hoer was able to squeeze out the victory by nearly two seconds.
Things should get pretty exciting and intense at this year’s race. Eight of the competing teams participated in last year’s NCAA National Championship. So get yourself ready, because the Jack Johnson Gold Race of the 26th Roy Griak Invitational will be one you will not want to miss.
Teams Competing in the Division I Women’s Gold Race
#9 Iowa State
Long Beach State
#26 Michigan State
#21 North Carolina State
North Dakota State
#18 Penn State
South Dakota State