Young cross team competes well at biggest event of year


The NMU cross country team ran its way to a 12th-place finish on Friday in the Division II category of the Roy Griak Cross Country Invitational.

The meet, held in Minneapolis, had 24 teams in its second division, and 254 competitors. Of the second division teams, Augustana College, which is actually a D-III school, won with 54 points. NMU had a total of 335 points.

The invitational is named for the former University of Minnesota track and field and cross country coach, Roy Griak, who was the track and cross coach for 33 years, from 1963-1996. The meet is now one of the most well-attended and highly-competitive cross country invitationals in the nation.

NMU head cross country coach Jenny Ryan said she was pleased with NMU’s standing overall in such a big event.

“I was very impressed with the way they handled it,” Ryan said. “They were a little bit wide eyed I think, and kind of amazed by a lot of the runners, but they ran pretty smart races and didn’t let the whole race get at them that much.”

The ‘Cats had just five members of the team score points and leading the way was freshman Nora Kiilunen who placed 37th (24:13). Rebecca Holmquist was 52nd (24:28). Maegan Hendershot was 75th (24:57) and teammate Christina Gillis was next in 76th (25:01). Erin McCulloch finished 95th (25:20)

“I think it was a solid finish for the group that we have,” Ryan said. “We have a real young team and they got some great experience from that big of a race.”

The next race for the Wildcats is their lone home meet of the year, The U.P. Championship, which will feature Lake Superior State University and Michigan Tech.

The race will be held Friday, Oct. 10.

Ryan said she is looking forward to hosting the race and for the young athletes to run at home for the first time. She added that her team is in a year of progress, and the next few seasons will only improve.

“I really expect this young team to be a dominate team in the future,” Ryan said.