Commodores run into Roy

Sept. 25, 2014

Event: Roy Griak Invitational
Day, Date: Saturday, Sept. 27
Host: University of Minnesota
Site: Les Bolstad Cross Country Course
Start Times: 12:20 p.m. Men’s 8k l 1:10 p.m. Women’s 6k
Live streaming: Here l Results: Here

The Vanderbilt men and No. 22-ranked women have a challenging weekend in front of them as they compete in the Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Cross Country Course. Here’s a closer look at the storylines and history surrounding the event:

l Field is stacked: Without a doubt, Saturday’s race will represent the stiffest competition yet for the Commodores. The Women’s Gold Race features a total of 37 teams, including seven teams who are ranked among the top-30. Seven of the top 10 teams from the 2013 Griak return to the 2014 field, including the Commodores, who finished sixth. The others are: Michigan State (second), Butler (third), Minnesota (fourth), Iowa State (fifth), Grand Valley State (ninth) and Arizona State (10th). Individually, Arizona State’s Shelby Houlihan, who won the event last year, is among the headliners this season.

l Cooperative forecast: Surprisingly warm temperatures are expected this weekend in Minnesota, with morning lows on Saturday predicted to be in the 60s and afternoon highs in the 80s.

l So far, so good: The Vanderbilt women have opened the season with two impressive showings, easily capturing the team titles at the Belmont Opener (Aug. 29) and the Commodore Classic (Sept. 13). Vanderbilt finished with 20 points at the Opener, as all 12 of Vanderbilt’s representatives finished within 36 seconds of one another, and they each earned spots among the top-17. The list included seven Commodore who crossed the line in succession while claiming the No. 2 through No. 8 finishes. At the Commodore Classic, Vanderbilt had five runners finish among the top-seven. Katherine Delaney paced the Commdores at the Opener and finished second overall at 17:40.42. Carmen Carlos was VU’s top finisher at the Classic, finishing third overall at 17:15.40. The Vanderbilt men finished sixth at the Opener and 13th at the Classic.

l Scheduled to run for Vanderbilt women: Emma Abrahamson, Reagan Anderson, Sara Barron, Claire Benjamin, Carmen Carlos, Rebecca Chandler, Maddie Criscione, Katherine Delaney, Megan Huebner, Amira Joseph, Hannah Jumper, Courtney Kriegshauser, Vanessa Valentine, Lily Williams.

l Scheduled to run for Vanderbilt men: Andrew Bachman, Matthew Cleveland, Sam DeFabrizio, John Ewing, Andrew Fix, Nick French, Dan Henderson, Sam Reilly, Jake Van Geffen.

l Griak Invitational background. Roy Griak served as the head coach of the Minnesota men’s cross country team from 1963-1996 and led the Gophers to three Big Ten titles (two cross country, one track & field). Griak has remained on staff as an administrative assistant since handing over the reigns of the program to current Director of Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country Steve Plasencia.

l General Meet Information. The meet includes 10 college and high school races, highlighted by the Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Division I Race.


Vanderbilt head coach Steve Keith

On this weekend’s race: “This starts the part of the season where you can accumulate quality wins. From this weekend on, the meets are more important. … I am real excited to see how we execute the group running that we’ve done in our first two meets.”

On where the team is compared to where they were at this point in seasons past: “We running a little bit faster than we have in the past, and we’re a lot deeper and a lot closer.”

On the field at the Roy Griak: “The real tale-tell thing about this weekend is that there are seven teams ranked in the Top-30 and another four or five that are, or have been, receiving votes. And there’s also Grand Valley State, who are the No. 1-ranked team in Division II. So we will have to manage their emotions and our energy.”

Vanderbilt assistant coach Rhonda Riley

On the stiff challenge the team will face at the Griak: “We are extremely excited, especially in terms of getting an opportunity to race against better competition and to see where our team stacks up on a national level.”

On how she rates the progress of the team so far: “Every year is a new year and each team defines itself differently. But I like how we’ve been practicing in terms of how we’ve been grouping up. I think this team is stronger and more fit than last year’s team and years past.”