The defending Griak Invitational champion University of Minnesota women will need to defeat a fellow top-10 team, if they are to become the meet's second-ever back-to-back women's champions.
The #9-ranked Gophers expect #5 Arizona State to provide stiff competition in the 23rd running of the U of M's signature cross country event. #20 Duke could also challenge.
Last year, the Gopher women edged the Sun Devils 97-100 for the crown. The Gophers went on to win the Big Ten title later in the season and placed 12th at the NCAA Championships. Arizona State finished 4th at NCAAs.
Only Providence College, in 1995 and 1996, has won back-to-back women's crowns at Griak. Arizona State has won the women's title at Griak four times -- 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005. The Gophers have won in 1988, 2000, and last year.
In all, 350 college and high school teams and more than 4000 individual runners are expected to compete in the meet which gets underway Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights.
Gopher Men Favored ... The Gopher men appear poised to win their first-ever Griak title. The squad is ranked #9 in the country. New Mexico, ranked #15 in the NCAA pre-season poll, is the most likely challenger, followed by #29 Iowa State and #30 Brigham Young University.
Five teams in the men's field made NCAA appearances in 2007 -- Minnesota, 8th; BYU, 22nd; Arizona State, 26th; and Iowa State and Ohio State who tied for 30th.
The Gopher men, who finished a program-best third at Griak last year, are led by all-Americans Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough who will be making their season debuts at the meet.
The U of M media mavens have issued a comprehensive for the Griak Invitational preview HERE.
You can find a list of teams competing in the Gold (Division I) races HERE.