The start of the Roy Griak Invitational
The jewel of the Golden Gophers’ home schedule each season is the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational The invitational is named after coaching legend Roy Griak, who was Minnesota’s head men’s cross country coach for 33 years and continues to work with the Gophers to this day.
The meet has had various names, including the Minnesota Invitational and the Norstand Invitational, but regardless of what it has been called, it remains one of the nation’s largest cross country meets and always draws large crowds and the best competitors.
The Minnesota Invitational was started by Griak and current Gopher women’s coach Gary Wilson in 1986. The name was changed in 1995 to the Norstand Invitational and was kept that way until 1997 when Wilson suggested calling the meet the Roy Griak Invitational to honor, who retired as head coach in 1996.
The Griak Invitational is held every year on the last full weekend in September at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, and according to Griak, it’s an excellent course.
“It’s a great course, but a very demanding course,” the former coach said. “Every team thinks it’s a great course and all the teams that come to compete year after year make this meet so special.”
During the 25 years the meet has been in existence, it has grown from a large cross country meet to a national spectacle.
Last season the Golden Gophers finished seventh in the Griak Gold Race crown overall tallying 185 points. North Carolina State freshman Shelby Greany won the Griak crown in a time of 20:39. Minnesota Duluth won the Maroon II race with 70 points, while Wisconsin-Oshkosh won the Maroon III crown with 65.
The 2011 Griak Invitational will be no different. All in all, there are more than 350 men’s, women’s and high school teams that will come to compete in the Griak Invitational.
According to Griak, the meet is a lot more than a cross country race. It’s an event.
“It’s a happening and more than a cross country race. It’s more like a county fair,” Griak said. “Several thousand gather to watch this meet. It’s one of the most prestigious meets in the country in terms of the course, the spectators and the competition.”
Griak 6K Course Record:
20:10, Kim Smith (Providence), 2004
Griak 5K Course Record:
16:19, Vicki Huber (Villanova), 1989
Lowest Winning Team Score:
20, Villanova, 1989
Closest Team Finish:
7; Iowa 56, Minnesota 63, 1987
Biggest Margin of Victory:
86; Villanova 20, Minnesota 106, 1989
Closest Individual Finish:
-:01, 2006 — Stephanie Rothstein (UC Santa Barbara), 21:13, Lauren Christman (UC Santa Barbara), 21:13
Largest Individual Margin of Victory:
:30, Vicki Huber, Villanova, 16:19, 1989