Golden Gopher Cross Country
22nd Annual Roy Griak Invitational
Falcon Heights, Minn.
Les Bolstad Golf Course
9 a.m. Women’s Maroon III Race
9:45 a.m. Women’s Maroon II Race
10:30 a.m. Men’s Maroon III Race
11:20 a.m. Men’s Maroon II Race
12:10 p.m. Men’s Gold Race
12:55 p.m. Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race
1:40 p.m. Boys’ Gold High School Race
2:25 p.m. Girls’ Gold High School Race
3:10 p.m. Boys’ Maroon High School Race
3:55 p.m. Girls’ Maroon High School Race
Golden Gopher Watch List Sept. 29, 2007
Minnesota Hosts 22nd Annual Roy Griak Invitational - The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams will host the 22nd Annual Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 29, 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.
Record Number Expected to Compete in 2007 - The 2007 Griak Invitational is expected to set several competition records this year. Approximately 350 teams are expected to compete with well over 4,000 student-athletes entered in the Griak’s 10 races. The records, both set in 2006, are 349 teams and 3,312 runners.
!0th Race Added in 2007 - The Men’s Maroon Race will be split into the Maroon II and Maroon III Races to accommodate the large number of entries of past years. A total of 500 runners raced in the 2006 Maroon Race.
Gopher All-Americans Lead the Way - Both the Golden Gopher men’s and women’s teams will look to their All-Americans - Ladia Albertson-Junkans and Chris Rombough - to lead the Maroon and Gold to top finishes at this year’s Griak. The Gopher men finished second a year ago, while the women were fourth.
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 22nd Annual Griak Invitational
The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams will play host to the 22nd Annual Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. A record number of athletes are expected to compete in the event again this year, making the Griak annually 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 43 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 20 of the 21 Invitationals, will celebrate his 84th birthday on Oct. 5.
Details, Details: Admission, Parking, Etc.
Ticket prices for the 2007 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 St. Paul Campus, a short walk away from the course.
And the Winner Is...
Team and individual results of the 2007 Griak Invitational will be placed on the Golden Gophers’ website gophersports.com as quickly as possible following the completion of each race.
Another Record-Setting Griak is Expected
Entries indicate the 2007 Roy Griak Invitational will be the largest in the 22-year history of the event. An anticipated 4,000-plus athletes will compete over the 10 races. The records stand at 349 teams and 3,312 finishers in 2006
Bjorklund, Hessel Are Honorary Referees in 2007
The Roy Griak Invitational will have two honorary referees oversee race day. The honorary referee for the 2007 Griak Invitational high school races is former Golden Gopher great Garry Bjorklund. Bjorklund was the 1970 NCAA champion in the 6-mile run. He led the Gophers to the Big Ten cross country title and a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 1969. He finished his illustrious Minnesota career as a 10-time Big Ten champion.
The honorary referee for the collegiate races will be retired Colorado State cross country coach Del Hessel. Hessel took the Rams to the NCAA Championships several times and was a 16-time conference Coach of the Year.
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 3,312 competitors in 2006.
30,000th Griak Finisher to Cross Line in First Race
Over the last 21 years, 29,882 runners have completed the Griak course, meaning that the athlete that finishes 18th in the Women’s Maroon III Race will have the distinction of being the 30,000th finisher in Griak history. Entering the 2007 event, 3,132 teams have competed.
Women’s Race Honors the Late Jack Johnson
The Griak Women’s Gold Race has been renamed the Griak Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race to honor the late Jack Johnson, a long-time equipment manager for the Golden Gopher who passed away in February of 2005.
The Griak Gold Race Field
The Griak Gold Races have once again drawn several of the nation’s top teams. Overall 23 schools have entered both the men’s and women’s races. A total of 24 teams will run in the Men’s Gold Race. Among the field are four teams (Kansas, Michigan State,Virginia and Washington State) that competed in the 2006 NCAA Championships.
The Griak Jack Johnson Women’s Gold field is 25 teams strong and includes five teams (Arizona State, UC Santa Barbara, Michigan State, Minnesota and Virginia) that advanced to the NCAA Championships a year ago.
The Returning Champions
UC Santa Barbara is the defending champion in the Women’s Gold Race, but a new individual champion will be crowned since 2006 Griak medalist Stephanie Rothstein (UC Santa Barbara) has graduated. The Men’s Gold Race will crown both a new team and individual champion. Arizona, the 2006 champion, is not entered in the field nor is individual champion Josh McDougal of Liberty.
The Golden Gophers
Minnesota is poised for both its men’s and women’s teams to contend for top Griak finishes. The Golden Gopher women enter the race ranked No. 8 with veteran head coach Gary Wilson enjoying the most talented and deep squad in school history. Minnesota is led by senior All-American Ladia Albertson-Junkans, who has the opportunity to become the very first three-time national honoree in Gopher history. Coming of a pair of perfect 15-point victories in smaller meets this season, however, it has been sophomore Jamie Cheever who has run in the Gophers’ number-one position. Both Albertson-Junkans and Cheever posted top-20 Griak finishes last season at eighth and 18th, respectively.
In addition to the All-American Albertson-Junkans and the all-region performer Cheever, the Gophers depth comes through as a tight pack of competitors, all capable of turning in a big day at the Griak. Junior Gabriele Anderson and sophomores Elizabeth Yetzer and Amy Laskowske also captured all-region accord a year ago. Other Gophers running well this season as well are junior Megan Duwell, sophomore Heather Dorniden and true freshman Nikki Swenson.
The No. 18 Golden Gopher men look to challenge for the Griak title after posting a team runner-up finish (the highest Griak finish for the men) last season. The pacesetter for Minnesota is junior Chris Rombough, an All-American (finished 14th at the NCAAs a year ago) and the defending Big Ten Conference champion. Rombough placed 14th at the Griak last season. True freshman Hassan Mead, last year’s Griak Boys Gold Race champion, provides the Gophers with a solid 1-2 punch. Sophomore Matt Barrett and Stanford transfer Forrest Tahdooahnippah played big roles in the Gophers’ victory at the BYU Autumn Classic earlier this season. Other Gophers striving for top-seven lineup positions are Mike Torchia, Mike McFarland, Ben Puhl and Rick Furseth.
Griak High School Champs Now Running for the Gophers
A number of the native Minnesotans on the Golden Gopher rosters competed at the Griak during their high school careers. The newest Griak high school champion to run for the Gophers is 2006 Griak Boys Gold champion Hassan Mead. Mead is joined by two other Gopher men who have Griak high school gold on their resumes: Mike Torchia (2005) and Forrest Tahdooahnippah (2002).
Elizabeth Yetzer, a 2005 champion and now a sophomore, was the fourth Griak high school champion to later run for the Gopher women (Anna Gullingsrud, Victoria Moses and Stefanie Zeihan).
Griak Notes of Interest
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 senior Tyler Sigl has the chance to become the first three-time Griak 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 will compete in the Maroon III Race this season, since the Maroon Race was split into two divisions.
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.
Minnesota has two Griak titles to its credit, both on the women’s side, with wins in 1988 and 2000. The best finish for the Minnesota men was second in 2006.
The only Golden Gopher to win the individual title was Rasa Michniovaite in 1998. The highest finish from the Golden Gopher men’s team was a sixth-place showing by Andrew Carlson in 2004.
Brigham Young’s Kip Kangogo set a new 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 12 different teams win in the Griak’s 21-year history with Arizona State and Providence each with four team titles leading the way.
Wisconsin is the only school to win the men’s and women’s Griak titles in the same year, doing so in 1997.
Of the 31 men’s teams that competed in the NCAA Championships in 2006, seven of them ran in the Griak Invitational. Six (6) women’s teams that competed in the Griak also advanced to the 31-team 2005 NCAA Championships.
Roy Griak has missed only one Griak Invitational in its 20-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 23rd 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. Wisconsin-LaCrosse’s men’s coach Don Fritsch, Wisconsin-Platteville’s Tom Antczak and Wisconsin-Whitewater coach Jeff Miller are former athletes of Wilson’s at LaCrosse.
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.
Six 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, 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 2001, when 508 athletes competed in the Women’s Maroon Race. The race was split into Maroon II and Maroon III the next year (2002). The Men’s Maroon Race traveled the same road and will be 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 21 years. The most recent occurrence in the Gold Races was in 2006 when Stephanie Rothstein (UC Santa Barbara) edged teammate Lauren Chrstman for the Women’s Gold title. The duo actually recorded the exact time: 21:13. Minnesota’s only 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
Minnesota 1988, 2000
Michigan State 2002
North Carolina State 1993
Oregon 1989, 1994
Providence 1995, 1996, 1998, 2004
Wisconsin 1992, 1997
Griak Champions Men
Adams State 1992
Brigham Young 2005
Iowa State 1989, 1990, 1993
Providence 1998, 2000
South Florida 1991
Wisconsin 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004