SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The Iowa State men’s and women’s cross country teams were crowned Roy Griak Invitational champions at the 24th annual meet Saturday at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. It marked the school’s fourth Griak title for the men, and the first ever Griak title for the women in Iowa State cross country history. This was also the first time a women’s Big 12 team has won the event.
“It’s really exciting to see all our athletes win,” head coach Corey Ihmels said. “I thought up and down the line up all the athletes competed really hard. I’m just excited about what we did in training this week and what were able to do in the race. We just did a great job all around.”
Cyclone All-American runner Lisa Koll finished runner-up to Minnesota’s Megan Duwell, finishing the 6,000-meter race with a time of 21 minutes 12 seconds in a field of 193 runners. Koll’s second-place performance helped Iowa State to win with 31 points, equaling the all-time meet low score previously set by Minnesota. The host Gophers were second Saturday with 48 points in a field of 18 women’s teams.
“I was really excited before the race, but I was a little bit apprehensive,” Koll said. “I had a hard time mentally getting into the first half of the race. I got it going during the last couple (1,000-meters) and felt like it was a good starting point for me. In previous years I’ve felt really fit and ready to go at (Roy Griak Invitational) and then fizzled at the end of the year. This year I feel like I have a lot of room to move forward.”
This was Koll’s first cross country meet for the Cyclones in nearly two years. The five-time All-American redshirted the 2008 cross country was the Griak runner-up for the second time.
“Lisa is coming off a long layoff that maybe showed that she had a little rust on her,” Ihmels said. “But for her first race in a long time I though she competed really hard. She seemed to get more in synch as the race goes on.”
ISU track and field All-American Betsy Saina finished third at her first-ever collegiate cross country meet (21:28). Freshman Alphine Tuliamuk finished in seventh-place (21:56) in her first collegiate cross country meet, and sophomore Semehar Tesfaye finished ninth, in her first cross country meet in Cardinal and Gold. Tesfaye finished 69th at last years Roy Griak Invitational running for North Dakota State, and bettered her time by more than a minute this year, finishing the 6,000-meter course in under 22 minutes.
“I thought Semehar Tesfaye and Alphine Tuliamuk had great first races as Cyclones,” Ihmels said. “Betsy (Saina) picked up right where she left off in the track season. Meaghan Nelson had a heck of a run. I’m just excited about how hard the athletes competed, and now we have three weeks to train before pre nationals, so were at a good spot.”
Senior Grace Kemmey rounded out the top five finishers for the Cyclones, finishing 10th (21:59). This was Kemmey’s first cross country meet since the 2007 NCAA Championships.
Senior Guor Marial’s second-place finish on 8,000-meter course (24:51) led the Iowa State men to the schools first Roy Griak Invitational Championship in 16 years. ISU won the men’s meet with a team score of 71. Oklahoma was second with 74 in a field of 18 teams. Three Cyclones finished in the top 10 out of a field of 167 competitors. Junior Hillary Bor finished seventh (25:05) and sophomore Yonas Mebrahtu finished ninth (25:06).
In his fourth and final time running at this meet, Marial finished runner-up, finishing thirteen seconds behind first-place finisher Hassan Mead (Minnesota). It was the best finish at the Roy Griak Invitational for Marial as a Cyclone.
Iowa State’s win Saturday marked the fourth time that the Cyclones men have won Roy Griak Invitational Championship (1989, 1990, 1993, 2009). The Iowa State men edged out Big 12 opponent Oklahoma Saturday by three points (71), clinching the championship. Big 12 north rival Missouri finished 13th (374).
Seniors Jory Zunich and Brandon Rooney rounded out the top five finishers for Iowa State, finishing 16th and 37th, respectively.
The Cyclone cross country teams will take a break from competition for the next few weeks as the they prepare for Pre Nationals Oct. 17 in Terre Haute, Ind. Terre Haute will be the site of the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships, November 23, at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center. Some runners will compete in the Bradley Classic, Oct. 16 in Peoria, Ill.
Men’s Team Results (Top 10): 1. IOWA STATE, 71; 2. Oklahoma, 74; 3. Duke, 94; 4. Minnesota, 101; 5. Washington State, 108; 6. Michigan State, 147; 7. Dayton, 179; 8. Air Force Academy, 223; 9. Navy, 234; 10. Utah Valley, 322.
Men’s Individual Results: 1. Hassan Mead, Minnesota, 24:37; 2. Guor Marial, IOWA STATE, 24:50; 7. Hillary Bor, IOWA STATE, 25:05; 9. Yonas Mebrahtu, IOWA STATE, 25:06; 16. Jory Zunich, IOWA STATE, 25:12; 37. Brandon Rooney, IOWA STATE, 24:51.
Women’s Results (Top 10): 1. IOWA STATE, 31; 2. Minnesota, 48; 3. Michigan State, 80; 4. Utah Valley, 135; 5. Unattached, 144; 6. Washington State, 200; 7. Alabama Birgningham, 251; 8. Connecticut, 252; 9. Oklahoma, 269; 10. Air Force Academy, 275.
Women’s Individual Results: 1. Megan Duwell, Minnesota, 21:01; 2. Lisa Koll, IOWA STATE, 21:12; 3. Betsy Saina, IOWA STATE, 21:28; 7. Alphine Tuliamuk, IOWA STATE, 21:56; 9. Semehar Tesfaye, IOWA STATE, 21:58; 10 Grace Kemmey, IOWA STATE, 21:59; 17. Meaghan Nelson, IOWA STATE, 22:25; 36. Taylor Peterson, IOWA STATE, 23:05.