Cross Country Heads to Minneapolis for Roy Griak Invitational
Spartans will race against some of the nation's top teams on Saturday.
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State cross country continues its season with the 32nd annual Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, Sept. 23. The Spartans will race against 19 Division I teams, including six men's and women's teams that are ranked in the top 30 in the USTFCCA's National Coaches' Poll.
The men will start off the day's meet in the Merrill Fischbein Men's Gold Competition, an 8,000 meter course, at 1:10 p.m. (ET). The women will follow in the Jack Johnson Women's Gold Competition at 2:20 p.m. (ET), a 6,000 meter race. The event will be streamed on FloTrack.
"In our development, we really need to get into high levels of competition against inter-regional teams and teams outside of our region. We have to start accumulating some points towards nationals. We have some national rankings, and that's a nice thing, but we have to start putting our feet in the fire," Director of Cross Country, Walt Drenth, said. "This course really helps us set up for the conference and regional meets because it's pretty difficult. It's a fair course, but will help us learn how to manage ourselves in a little bit of a different environment than the course we ran on last week at home, which is relatively flat. We've got to learn who we are, and I think this is a good opportunity for that."
In the latest USTFCCA's National Coaches' Poll, the Spartan men's squad held its position at No. 25. In 2015, the men's squad was also ranked No. 25 going into the Griak Invitational, going on to claim the team title at the event. This week, the women fell three spots to No. 20.
At last year's Griak Invitational, the women's team earned a second-place finish with 127 points and the men's squad finished in sixth place with a team score of 161.
In its last meet, MSU hosted the annual Auto-Owners Spartan Invitational and featured top finishes from the Spartans. On the women's side, redshirt junior Erin McDonald led the way with a second place finish (21:23.9). Freshman Maggie Farrell and sophomores Jeralyn Poe and Lynsie Gram crossed the finish line right behind McDonald, rounding out the first four Spartan finishes. For the men, redshirt senior Max Benoit claimed a second-place finish with an 8K time of 24:48.0. Redshirt senior Clark Ruiz ended the race eighth (25:17.5), and sophomore Morgan Beadlescomb followed in ninth (25:17.6).
"We need to have a little bit more commitment to the front in the late stages of the race. I think we have to learn a little bit more control of our race in the early stages. I thought we got a little bit impatient, and for some of us it caught up with us," Drenth said of the team's performance so far. "We've got to commit to the groups that we're running with, mid-race. We spread out a little bit, and I think it was more a matter of decision-making than it was whether we were physically ready to keep up. Our pack running is going to be important for our success, developing our depth on both sides is going to be important, as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how that comes together."
Following the Griak Invitational, the Spartans will have a week off before the Michigan Intercollegiate on Friday, Oct. 6.