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Roy Griak Invitational tests runners on a big stage

New Richmond’s Austin Haseleu, shown in the recent Osceola Invitational, ran a smart tactical race at the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota on Saturday. 1 / 2
Sophomore Brandon Mondor, shown during the Osceola Invitational, was Somerset’s top runner in the Maroon race at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday. 2 / 2

Getting to compete in one of the biggest national cross country settings in the nation was a treat and a challenge for the New Richmond and Somerset squads on Saturday.

The Tigers and Spartans were part of the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota on Saturday.  Ten races are run through the course of the day at the Griak meet, including all three levels of collegiate running and four high school races. The meet attracts top college teams from all over the country and high school programs from several states in the Midwest.

The New Richmond boys and girls competed in the Maroon races for their genders. The Tiger boys placed 18th among 60 teams in their race, while the Tiger girls ranked 32nd among 50 teams in their race.

Tiger coach Beth Kelly has been taking her squads to the Griak meet for a number of years. She said experience is a key factor in this meet because it is run on such a challenging course at the Les Bolstad Golf Club. She said the Tigers who worked in the Tiger Strength program over the summer saw the benefits in Saturday’s race because running the hills in this course tests a runner’s strength.

Runners who experienced running in this meet before also had a big edge. New Richmond had two seniors running in the meet and they both performed well. Senior Maddie Kelly, the lead runner for the Tiger girls all season, finished 29th overall among the 445 runners in the girls Maroon race. Luke Miller came up with one of the best performances of his career to rank as the fourth Tiger boy in the meet, placing 177th out of the 521 runners in the Maroon race.

Coach Kelly said dealing with the adrenaline of running in a pack of 500-plus runners is one of the benefits the runners get from competing in a race like this. She said one of the runners who handled the pressure well was sophomore Austin Haseleu, who was the Tigers’ third finisher, placing 123rd.

“Austin did well at going out under control. He probably passed 70 people from the 1K mark to the finish.”

The Tiger boys were led by juniors Jack Utzman and Brennan Roby. Utzman placed 57th and Roby was 102nd. Bailey Wilson was the Tigers’ fifth runner, placing 184th, with Nate Mortensen in 193rd and Sam Charbonneau in 215th.

Junior Peyton Olien was the second Tiger finisher in the girls race, placing 161st. She was followed by Mallory Kelly in 175th, Mikayla Gefeke in 211th, Lexi Brown in 248th, Harley Leavens in 252nd and Meghan Watkins in 256th.

Somerset also participated in the Maroon races. Because of the late afternoon start of the race, the Spartans didn’t have a full squad at the meet. The time of the race conflicted with Saturday’s Somerset Homecoming Dance.

The Spartans did have several strong performances, led by sophomores Brandon Mondor and Cole Harty. The Spartan lead runners stayed close together throughout the race, finishing nine seconds part.  Mondor placed 137th in the race in 18:31. Though there were just nine seconds between them, Harty was 23 places behind Mondor in 160th among the 521 boys runners.

Both teams are now in a break in their schedule. Their next competition arrives next Tuesday, when they run in the Amery Invitational.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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