Kansas Cross Country Readies for Roy Griak Invitational
Sept. 22, 2011
Lawrence, Kan. – After a one week lay-off, the Kansas cross country teams will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 24 when they travel to Minneapolis, Minn., for the 26th Annual Roy Griak Invitational. The meet, hosting the Jayhawks for the first time since 2007, will feature hundreds of runners on over 25 teams in each of the men’s and women’s races, including several of the top ranked teams in the nation.
“The time off has helped tremendously,” said Assistant Coach Michael Whittlesey. “We really have stepped up the level of training and really have galvanized the essence of pack running.”
Fresh off Big 12 Runner of the Week honors and a meet title, senior Rebeka Stowe will look to lead the KU women to a top finish this weekend. A week ago at the Missouri Cross Country Challenge Stowe took home her second career individual title with a 5K personal-best time of 17:43.93. She will lead a strong KU women’s pack that will look to excel upon a a strong showing two weeks ago in Missouri.
“The women have done a great job running stride for stride with our top six working together as a pack,” said Whittlesey. “We want them to continue to work on what they’ve done in the other races and practice and that’s team running.”
A host of Jayhawk women will be joining Stowe on the trip to Minneapolis this weekend including senior Kara Windisch, who was the runner-up at the Missouri meet on Sept. 10. Also competing this weekend will be senior Cori Christensen and juniors Kyra Kilwein and Tessa Turcotte.
After sitting out at the Missouri Cross County Challenge, junior Zach Zarda will be back in action for the KU men this weekend. Zarda took home the individual title at the season’s opening meet, The Bob Timmons Classic, on Sept. 3., and will hope to continue his strong start to the season.
“We’ve got a great strength of guys right now,” Whittlesey explained. “Any of the seven to 10 guys could be in our top five. We want to try and get that whole pack out there together at a good clip and put ourselves in the mix of the front pack. We really want to continue running deep in the race with at least five guys.”
Other notable men competing for the Jayhawks this weekend will be freshman James Wilson, who led the KU men to a team victory at Missouri, as well as senior Austin Bussing, junior Josh Baden and sophomore Jose Muñoz.
Both teams will be competing against a huge number of participants on Saturday, something they haven’t seen thus far this season. In fact, the meet hasn’t hosted so many participants since 2006, making this one of the most competitive and talented fields from top to bottom in years. With the greater number of talented runners, the race will present new challenges as well as new strategies for the Jayhawks.
“When you have the large number of competitors out there at the same time it becomes much harder to go out and run with your group,” Whittlesey said. “Two or three miles into the race there could still be 20 to 30 guys around you so it’s very important to maintain the confidence that you’re going to prevail in the later stages of the race.”
The Roy Griak Invitational will take place at the always-challenging Les Bolstad Golf Course. The starting gun for the men’s Division I 8K race is set to go off at 12:20 p.m., while the women’s Division I 6K race will begin 1:10 p.m. For results and a full recap of the races, log on to kuathletics.com.
KU’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will take another week off before returning to the trails at the Haskell Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 8. While it is not a home meet, the Jayhawks will surely benefit from running in front of the hometown fans in Lawrence and at Haskell’s campus course. The day is slated to kick off at 9 a.m.