It feels good to accomplish a goal. And that’s exactly what the Men’s Cross Country team did last Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minnesota. For the first time this season, the 2010 Midwest Conference runner-up Vikings got a chance to race the team that edged them out last year, Grinnell. So, naturally, their goal was to avenge last year’s loss.
The team did just that. Placing 12th out of a 32-team field and three spots ahead of Grinnell, Lawrence finished ahead of their Midwest Conference competition.
“The team ran probably our best race of the year thus far,” commented junior standout Sam Stevens. “We really responded well to the challenge.” Stevens, who along with teammates Curran Carlile and Kyle Dockery lead the slow starting race for the first 2000 meters, lost a little bit of steam in the final kilometers but still managed to finish 17th overall in a time of 26:13. Carlile, a sophomore from Portland, Oregon, dropped over a minute off his previous week’s time and finished 48th in 26:51. As with last week’s race, the freshmen made a huge impact. Dockery crossed the line 74th overall in a time of 27:16, and Pat Mangan was right behind him in 78th with a time of 27:21. Sophomore Jamie Brisbois rounded out the scoring for the Vikings in 94th place with a time of 27:42.
The women’s team continued to improve with another solid race. Every runner in the top seven improved over her previous week’s time. Senior Emily Muhs continued to show her grit and determination, as she was tripped and fell down in the middle of the race but got back up and finished in 46th place with a time of 24:17, her best of the season. Freshman Maggie Mahaffa blazed to a personal best with her time of 26:12. Sophomore Anna Ratliff and senior Rosie Graber worked together to finish a second apart in 26:38 and 26:39 respectively. Graber, returning from a year spent abroad, was missed by the team last year and is running well again for the Vikings.
Three other Lawrence runners paced each other to a strong race. Juniors Cathy Kaye and Amanda Dwyer and senior Amelia Sancilio all finished within four places of each other with times of 28:12, 28:34, and 28:39 respectively.
Both on and off the course, the team enjoyed their stay in the Twin Cities for the Griak Invite. Many of the athletes live near where the meet was held. Whether it was the homemade pasta dinner prepared by the families of some of the runners on Friday night, or just getting to see familiar faces during the race, it was a fun weekend for the teams, which may have helped their success. Sophomore Kevin Fitzgerald commented, “We have such a tight-knit group, and it really adds to our success as a team.”
The Vikings have this weekend off, but come back the following weekend with their home meet, the Gene Davis Invitational, hosted at the Reid Golf Course at 10:00 a.m.