The wind and rain could not slow down the Augustana cross country teams at the 28th annual Roy Griak Invitational last Saturday as both the men and women earned a Division II first place title.
“Going into it we wanted to win and just make a statement,” senior Paul Yak said. “We ended up running really well.”
Yak finished second place in the men’s D-II division with a time of 25:21, followed closely by junior Adam Braun at 25:25 for a third place finish.
Senior Runa Falch set a course record for D-II women with a final time of 21:34 on the 6,000-meter course.
“Most of all, it’s good to just get comfort that you’re in shape,” Falch said of setting the record. “It gives you confidence too.”
In previous years, Falch said she has struggled with the course at the Roy Griak meet, and last year she dropped out of the race. This year, she came back stronger than ever.
“It’s a really hard course,” she said. “You really have to stay positive, and you really need to work hard mentally. That’s probably the biggest challenge.”
Other challenges facing the teams during the race included sharing a large field with over 40 teams, steady rain and wind, and a challenging course, according to assistant coach Greg Binstock.
“You’re constantly either going up or down,” Yak said, describing the hills throughout the course. “There’s really no flat.”
Overcoming the hills and the rain added to the mental challenges of running a cross country race, according to Falch.
“No matter how in shape you are, if you don’t respect the course, it’ll kick you,” she said.
Despite the weather, both teams succeeded in overcoming obstacles to claim first place.
“Our men and women ran extremely well,” Binstock said. “Our kids were ready mentally and had a great race.”
The Roy Griak Invitational takes place each year at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Teams spanning from high school all the way to Division-I college compete.
“It’s one of the biggest meets in the nation,” Yak said, estimating 300 to 400 people ran in the D-II race.
Last year, the Augustana cross country teams competed in the D-I race at the Roy Griak Invitational. The men’s team finished in eighth place, and the women finished fourteenth.
This year, the cross country teams were unsure whether to run the D-I or D-II race, according to Braun. He said the teams chose the D-II race to practice running as a team more.
“It’s tough competition this early in the year,” Braun said.
This weekend, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to the University of Arkansas to participate in the Chile Pepper Invitational where they will compete in the D-I race.