Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Griak Invite: A Golden Gopher Sweep?

Pity the poor Minnesota cross country reporter ...

Faced with writing a preview of the seven-hour-long, 350 team, 4000 runner hills-and-perspiration festival that is the 22nd Roy Griak Invitational, there's just too darn much to choose from.

I mean, the press release the Gophers send out for the event is whopping 2329 words long!

Interesting team and individual match-ups abound from the high school divisions -- seven NTN Heartland Region-ranked boys and girls teams are on the startlist -- through NCAA Division II and III, the "maroon divisions" of the meet.

But, it pays to find a single hook, I learned in my one-and-only journalism class ... and mine will be:

Can the Gophers sweep their big home meet for the first time in its history?

The Minnesota women's team has won two Griak titles (1988, 2000) and although the men have never kept the trophy named for the long-time Minnesota men's coach in-state, they were the runners-up last year.

Both teams, it appears, will face well-matched challenges. Steve Plasencia's men are the top-ranked team on the starting line, at #18 in the latest D1 poll. Gary Wilson's Gopher women, ranked #8 nationally, are the second-best team in the field, according to voters.

If the men are to win the Men's Gold Race at 12:10 p.m. on Saturday, they'll need to top #19 Northern Arizona, #23 Michigan State, #28 Virginia, and #29 Iowa State for the title. Twenty-four teams are scheduled to run the D1 race, including 2006 national meet participants Kansas and Washington State.

(If the men's field seems a little down this year, blame the University of Oregon's fast-growing Bill Dellinger Invitational for snapping up many of the nation's top teams this weekend, including #1 ranked Wisconsin men, the program to have won the most Griak titles -- 11!)

Come 12:55 p.m. when the gun fires for the Gopher women, in addition to #6 ranked Arizona State rated ahead of them, they'll need to out-run #9 Michigan State and #10 Virginia to uphold their half of any sweep. The 25-team women's field also includes 2006 Griak champs and national meet participants UC Santa Barbara.

Action at Les Bolstad Golf Course begins at 9:00 a.m. and continues until 3:55 p.m.

Find full details HERE.


Brian said...

Charlie, Will you be there for all 10 races? Only a true fan-maniac- would spend 8 hours at a cross country meet.

Brian said...

Do you think they really need 45 minutes between starting times between races? I understand they want to have awards presentations between some races, but could they have them while other races are going on???

Chris said...

I agree--there does seem to be a lot of down time.
And after sitting beside Charlie for two consecutive long days at last year's state track meet, watching him work furiously for this very blog without his energy level declining a bit, I would say he has what it takes to be that fan-maniac.

Charlie said...

I do plan to be there for the whole "shootin' match." I might morph some of my spectating into a easy run between races, since I'll need to take care of that pleasurable responsibility too.

Watching great races is the fun part of this "job!"