Saturday, September 27, 2014

Roy Griak Invitational Division 1 Cross Country Results-Great Lakes Focus

September 27, 2014. On an unseasonably warm and sunny day in Minnesota, Butler University's Women's Cross Country team had a disappointing debut, finishing 11th of the 35 Division 1 schools entered in the Roy Griak Invitational. For many teams that would be a good day at the office but more was expected from last year's 3rd place finishers. Prior to the meet, Coach Matt Roe felt his team was strong and ready to go and that three of his returning athletes were much stronger than last year.

Mara Olson finished 4th last year for Butler and I had her picked as an almost certain top 5, but this year it was a 21st place, proving again that there are no sure things in distance racing. Running conditions, fitness on the day, morale and luck all play a role on the day. As the saying goes, that's why we run races. The individual competition was billed as a tight race between Shelby Houlihan (Arizona State) and Emma Bates (Boise State). It was a tight race, but between Houlihan, the winner in 20:35 and Rachel Johnson (Baylor) six seconds back. Bates ran with the lead pack for

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Overall winner, Shelby Houlihan, Arizona State Sun Devils [Mile Split US image]

much of the race but faded a bit towards the end to finish 6th overall.

Michigan State proved the class of the team competition following the lead of 5th place finisher, Rachele Schulist to take the team title with 66 points, placing their top 5 runners in the top 25
Rachele Schulist was the top Big Ten finisher in the women's 6K at Roy Griak.
Rachele Schulist, leading the Spartans to their 2013 2nd place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational  []

Cross Country Regionals
Crystal Nelson on her way to victory in the 2013 Midwest Regional race [Iowa State Daily] <>
overall.Tight running as a pack was evidenced by there being only 22 seconds between MSU's 2nd runner, Leah O'Connor, and their 5th runner, Alexis Wiersma. That tight running among the 2nd through 5th runners is what got the Spartans their well-earned victory over a surprisingly strong Iowa State squad that almost rode their first 2 runners to what would have been a truly shocking win. Crystal Nelson and Katy Moen took 3rd and 4th for the Cyclones and Bethany Brown came in 16th

so after 3 runners in, Iowa State was in the lead. But it was not to be; MSU's 4th and 5th runners were too strong. But kudos to the Spartans and Cyclones on a great team race!

And what do the Bulldogs carry away from this race, apart from humility? There were really no bright spots as all of the Dawgs finished further back than expected. Their second runner in, Laura Good, finished in 71st, followed by Katie Good and Laura Riches just inside the top hundred. So from top to bottom it was a disappointing outing. Coach Roe's view was that the team had trained primarily in the cool of the morning and late afternoon so was not prepped for a grueling cross country race on a hot day where the temperatures exceeded 80 degrees. Let's hope he's right and that the team's morale rebounds quickly from this early check to their 2014 ambitions. You can be sure the Bulldogs will be heading to Notre Dame next week with their aim on redemption! Right now the forecast is for a high of 59 degrees with a 40% chance of rain. It ought to be just what the doctor ordered.

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