Sept. 24, 2015
Roy Griak Homepage
MILWAUKEE – The Marquette University men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to the 30th Annual Roy Griak Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota Saturday, Sept. 26, in Minneapolis.
This year’s race, which will once again take place at the Les Bolstad Course, was named after the long-time coach for the Gophers, but will be the first since his passing on July 9, 2015.
“He (Roy Griak) has been a big influence on the sport and everyone was saddened by his loss,” Marquette head coach Mike Nelson said of Griak. “To compete in the meet named after him right after he’s passed away adds to the mystique of the meet.”
Griak completed his 51st year of service with the Golden Gopher program prior to his passing, highlighted by his tenure as head men’s cross country coach from 1963-96 before serving in an administrative role thereafter.
The Golden Eagles enter Saturday’s event on a short week following solid performances at the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame last Friday, Sept. 18. Sophomore Alec Miller led the men with a 12th place overall finish, while junior Brittney Feivor paced the women by taking sixth overall, and both were honored by the BIG EAST Conference in earning the distinctions of Male and Female Athletes of the Week, respectively.
Most of Marquette’s races this season were scheduled two weeks apart, so one could assume some concern with the quick turnaround.
“Sometimes when you go too long without racing, you forget the discomfort of a race,” Nelson said. “When there’s a quick turnaround, often times, you remember the discomfort and can adjust quickly if you’ve fully recovered from the previous race. A quick turnaround can be a good thing.”
With such young squads for both the men and the women, Nelson is hoping a quick turnaround can provide needed growth going forward.
“Athletes are starting to grow more confident,” Nelson said. “Part of that is fitness and part of that is confidence. In general, I see progress moving forward.”
Aside from Feivor on the women’s side, others have showed great promise thus far in 2015.
“Kayla Spencer is one of our captains and continues to make progress after coming back from injury,” Nelson said. “Last week was her first race since last year’s regional. It wasn’t perfect, but very solid for her and I expect her to make even more progress week-to-week.
“Clare McDonald ran an incredibly intelligent race last week and had a very fast last mile,” Nelson said of the redshirt junior. “It’s been a while since she competed in cross country, but she’s just getting her feet wet and doing a great job.”
On the men’s side, the early bright spot aside from Miller’s success has been the influence of the freshman class.
“The freshmen have really answered the bell,” Nelson said in reference to Brad Eagan, Jon Klaiber, Henry Mierzwa and Grant von der Lippe. “I think they’re a talented group and one that has worked very hard throughout their careers. They’re performing at a high level and I’m very happy with all four right now.”
More than 30 Division 1 teams, including over 500 runners, were featured in last year’s event and no fewer are expected back this year. Ten races will be run ranging from high school competition to all three NCAA divisions.
The Marquette men are slated to race in the Merrill Fischbein Men’s Gold Competition at 12:20 p.m. Central time, followed by the women in the Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Competition at 1:20 p.m.