Cross country does well at Griak Invite

Laura Conway

The NMU Wildcat cross country team performed well on Sept. 25 at the 25th Annual Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Wildcats placed eighth out of 25 teams. They were 196 points behind the champions, University of Minnesota-Duluth. Finishing with an end score of 266, the Wildcats’ top five racers were all within 22 seconds of each other.

Sophomore Rita Woitas led off the Wildcats finishing 39th with a time of 24:00.1. Close behind was overall finisher Olivia Juntila (sophomore) at 40th with a time of 24:00.6. Senior Christina Turman placed 60th at 24:19.0. 61st place finisher was Nora Kiilunen (junior) at 24:19.9. Last but not least was 66th placer Mandy Dye (freshman) who ran a 24:22.2.

Juntila was very excited with her finish because she had met the goals she set for the this race.

“Personally, I had a good race, I met my goal of running faster than i did at this race last year by 22 seconds. Rita Woitas and I were neck and neck at the finish (within .5 seconds of each other),” Juntila said.

The rest of the girls that competed placed in the top 110 racers.

Kristen Schulz (senior) placed 74th and ran a time of 24:28.1. Junior Marie Helen Soderman finished 110th with a time of 25:02.0.

Head coach Jennifer Ryan said she was really excited for this event because it is the same as future events.

“It is also a 6km race which is what we will race at conference, Regionals, and Nationals, so it gives the girls a chance to compete at that distance,” Ryan said.

This event is also a good experience for the team to just watch other athletes.  They are able to watch the Division I teams race and learn by observing their technique and absorb all they can learn.

“They also hold a separate Division I race and we stay and watch that race so the team  can see some of the best runners and teams in the country.  They can learn something by just watching,” Ryan said.

NMU Wildcat’s cross country team will race again in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at the Midwest Collegiate Meet on Sunday October 17, 2010.