’Cats take fourth at Roy Griak Invitational

By Taylor Syring

Last Saturday, the women’s cross country team competed in the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn. The Wildcats took fourth place and met their goals for the weekend.

The Roy Griak Invitational is the largest cross country invitational in the United States annually. It includes around 25 teams in Division I, II and III. There is also a high school division within the competition.

Head coach Jenny Ryan said NMU’s team performed well and lived up to her expectations.

“We definitely met the expectations, if not exceeded them. The girls ran a great race,” Ryan said. “We have such a strong team.”

The lady Wildcats placed fourth out of the 22 teams in their division. Ryan said that the Wildcats placed better than many of the rivals they set out to beat including Michigan Tech and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“Duluth is the team that beat us the past two weekends. We beat them this time, and that was great,” Ryan said.

Sophomore Mandy Dye finished with a time of 23:40.4 last weekend. She finished second out of the Wildcats and was named by Ryan as one of the MVPs of the invitational.

“It was definitely a mentally tough course, but I was really happy with my performance,” Dye said. “I did better than last year, which was kind of my goal. I wanted to make progress and push forward, so I think I handled it pretty well.”

The team works well together, Dye said. They motivate each other to do well.

“I had great teammates to push me and the entire time, I had upperclassmen running right along with me to keep me pushing for more places and better points,” Dye said.

Freshman Larissa Halonen was also excited about the outcome of last weekend’s invitational. Halonen placed no. 22 overall and was first for NMU with a time of 23:17.4.

“I was very proud of my teammates. Every day we push each other, whether we are running up and down Marquette Mountain, or along the 6K course at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota,” Halonen said.

Senior Nora Kiilunen finished sixth for the Wildcats with a time of 24:02.3. She said she was happy with the outcome for her team this weekend.

“I didn’t do as well as hoped, but it was good to see that my team around me did. Even if you don’t do well personally, it’s great to see the team do so well,” Kiilunen said.

Kiilunen said the team worked hard and earned their fourth place finish last weekend.

“We knew we could be one of the best teams there and a lot of the girls stepped up and got us there,” Kiilunen said.

The Wildcats have four more meets this season. Senior Olivia Juntila said the team’s goal is to continue improving and to have more recovery time.

Juntila placed seventh for the Wildcats this weekend and finished with a time of 24:18.5. Juntila said that the next races looks very promising based on the results of last weekend’s race.

“The rest of the season we’ll probably be more rested,” Juntila said. “From here on out we have every other weekend off, and we will be able to perform better and improve on our times.”

The Wildcats’ next meet is the U.P. Championships on Oct. 7 at the NMU golf course. The time is to be announced.