The University of Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams were in action again on Saturday at the 33rd annual Roy Griak Invitational. The course was buzzing with thousands of athletes and spectators focused on eight separate races scheduled throughout the morning.
The women’s team showed out Saturday, with the usual suspects of Megan and Bethany Hasz leading the women’s team to a first place finish overall. Bethany Hasz won the race in a time of 20:47.9, while Megan Hasz took second place in 20:54.3.
“It’s always good to come away with a win, you can’t argue with a ‘W,’ [and] we haven’t won this meet since 2008 so it was nice to get a win,” said head coach Sarah Hopkins. “I think everyone kind of expected us to win and sometimes that almost makes it harder because you have a bullseye on your back. I thought the girls handled that pretty well, especially being at home [because] that can add a little bit of pressure, everybody’s families are here, and everybody has high school friends here. … It was a good learning week. Going forward, I think it’s going to help us moving into the next couple weeks.”
Led by Alec Basten’s fourth place finish in a time of 24:37.4, the men’s team finished second overall at the meet.
Abnormally, one year ago on race day, temperatures neared 90 degrees. However, this year’s athletes were thankful for more suitable running weather on a chilly fall day. Before the race, men’s team head coach Steve Plasencia called for his athletes to give it their all.
“We have a stockpile of history on our course, our course is probably one of the most challenging courses in the country with the hills and the turns and the long grass. It’s probably going to be soft and muddy too,” Plasencia said. “Over the years, we have seen lot of guys succeed and we’ve seen a lot of guys fail on our home course.”
The meet was named in honor of the late Roy Griak, who served as the head coach of the Minnesota men’s cross country team from 1963 to 1996, before his passing in 2015. The Roy Griak Invitational is one of the largest cross country meets in the country, annually bringing attention from all around the nation to the hills of Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
Both the men’s and women’s team have one week without competition. In two weeks, they will race on Saturday, Oct. 13th in Madison, Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Pre-Nationals meet.
The University of Wisconsin’s cross country program also hosted a meet on the same day as the Roy Griak Invitational on the Zimmer Championship course, which will host the 2018 NCAA Cross Country National Championships in November. Because of this, some teams that typically have competed at the Roy Griak Invitational meet instead elected to race at Wisconsin’s Invitational in order to get a strategic preview of the course before the national championship meet.