Cross Country preps for Griak Invitational

Griak Invitational

From left, junior John Klecker, senior, T.J. Gleason and sophomore Keegan Carda race in the Augustana Twilight Invitational Sept. 5 in Sioux Falls. Gleason, Klecker, and Carda finished 25th, 26th, and 27th overall, respectively, in the season-opening competition.

Jared Rubado

jjrubado@ole.augie.edu

The Augustana cross country runners will make the trip to the University of Minnesota for the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational Saturday.

Both the men’s and women’s squads rank No. 6 in the nation for Division-II cross country.

The Griak Invitational is one of the more anticipated cross country events in the country. A total of 402 teams will attend, including high school teams and many divisions of college competition.

Last year, both the Vikings’ men’s and women’s teams captured the Division II title at the meet.

“Our goal is simple: to defend our titles from last [season],” head coach Tracy Hellman said.

Senior T.J. Gleason said the teams must run a consistent race for that to happen.

“We need to go out there and put ourselves in a position to win this race,” Gleason said. “We need to dictate the race from the start and run our best possible race to be successful.”

Megan Brown, another senior, said their pursuit will not be easy.

The Augustana cross country runners will make the trip to the University of Minnesota for the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational Saturday.

Both the men’s and women’s squads rank No. 6 in the nation for Division-II cross country.

The Griak Invitational is one of the more anticipated cross country events in the country. A total of 402 teams will attend, including high school teams and many divisions of college competition.

Last year, both the Vikings’ men’s and women’s teams captured the Division II title at the meet.

“Our goal is simple: to defend our titles from last [season],” head coach Tracy Hellman said.

Senior T.J. Gleason said the teams must run a consistent race for that to happen.

“We need to go out there and put ourselves in a position to win this race,” Gleason said. “We need to dictate the race from the start and run our best possible race to be successful.”

Megan Brown, another senior, said their pursuit will not be easy. “[It’s] our true season opener,” Brown said. “It’s a tough course with a lot of hills, so we need to stay mentally tough and push through the entire race.”

The Vikings have run in only one meet thus far this season. At the Augustana Twilight Invitational, the women ran to a fourth place finish, and the men finished sixth. Senior Gabi Swoboda placed highest among the Augustana women, finishing 20th overall. Gleason paced the Viking men, finishing 25th overall.

Augustana cross country aims to have another outstanding season and expects to run deep into the postseason.

“We have high expectations for our shot at the conference,” Hellman said. “As for the postseason, we want to be in the top five for nationals.”

Brown said she is motivated by the underdog role bestowed upon them according to conference rankings.

“We want to take back our conference title,” she said. “It’s different from years past because we aren’t favored to win the conference.”

Some less-seasoned runners must also step up this season if the Vikings want to match their successes of years past.

“We have some really solid freshmen on the team this year,” Gleason said. “Logan Burns is really blazing the trail for us, and Nick Larsen is really taking some steps in the right direction.”

The women are extremely young—half of their 14-person roster are freshmen.

“All of our freshmen have to play a crucial role this year if we are going to be successful,” Brown said.