National Roster of Boys Teams Meet at Roy Griak Invitational

Many of Minnesota's best will take on some of the best from across the nation as athletes from over 60 schools toe the line at Saturday's 24th edition of the Roy Griak Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota.

The boys gold race is laced with some of the best teams from Minnesota Class A & AA along with a fresh set of challengers hailing from the Midwest and beyond. The top nine finishers from a year ago, including gold race champ Max Manley of Edina, graduated with another seven from the top 20 also matriculated, leaving the field wide open for a new winner. Defending team champion Edina is back along with all the top five squads from 2018 making it interesting to see how teams have evolved a year later. Which teams and individuals will stake a claim at national level recognition this season? Checkout our previews with numbers from the MileSplit national database filling up virtual meets based on the year's best results for each race!

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Just four underclassmen finished in the top 20 last year but all four are back in 2019 and several teams and individuals from the top of the maroon race standings have stepped up to test themselves in the gold competition this season. 

VIRTUAL MEET TOP THREE TEAMS: Cheyenne Mt, CO (197.5), Perham (219), Bemidji (303)

In the team competition Minnesota's top programs will be challenged by entries from Colorado, Florida, Kansas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Using this year's best numbers Cheyenne Mountain (CO) is projected as the favorite with potential for an impressive 16:14.4 average over a possible split under 40 seconds. Very few teams will have a five runners who have already run 16:30 or better and in a huge field, that compact split would make Cheyenne Mt a very formidable opponent in any race.

When a team has a tight pack the best way to overcome at advantage in a big meet is to put runners in front of their group. That is exactly what MNXCCA class A no. 1 Perham will try to do on Saturday. In our virtual meet the Yellowjackets have a faster top runner in senior Brandon O'Hara (7th overall) and head to head scoring advantages at the first four spots, keeping them within 25 points of Cheyenne Mt. Despite a better team average of 16:12 in our results, the split of near 75 seconds has to close for Perham to catch their out of state opponent. Perham is fresh off very good third place finish at the Milaca Mega Meet when they stepped up to the D1 race and finished behind class AA powerhouses Eden Prairie and Mounds View.

The top five also has plenty of Minnesota flavor with talented class AA Bemidji showing potential for an average under 16:30 and five inside the top 100 individually. They also have a split under a minute in our data, with a pack led by senior Gage Mostad (13th overall) that can surge as one to shed points very quickly in a large field. 

Sioux Falls Lincoln will be another team in the mix for a top five finish with lots of fast results to their name from the Auggie Twilight held on the notoriously fast NXR Heartland Course. If they can carry some of that success to the more grinding Les Bolstad course on Saturday, their 16:19 average from our database is third best among entered teams. A split over 90 seconds keeps them outside the top three in the same virtual meet.

Class AA no. 3 White Bear Lake, led by seniors Max Nelson and Isaac Maruyama projecting inside the top 20 team scorers, have a great chance to place in the top five as well. Their team average is slowed by a possible fifth runner outside the top 150 which also lengthens their split to over 65 seconds, something a team hoping to win at a huge invite has to tighten to keep pace. However a pair low sticks at the top with big meet experience can erase points quickly, especially if a fifth man rises to the occasion.



Parker Wolfe

Cherry Creek High School



Emmet Anderson

Staples-Motley High School



Brady Yoder

Dickinson High School



Andrew Lauer

Sioux Falls Lincoln High School



Hunter Klimek

Staples-Motley High School


On the individual side, the gold race will feature a pair of runners who know how to run well at Griak after going 1-2 in the maroon race in 2018.
Dickinson (ND) junior Brady Yoder won the maroon competition in a time of 16:14 which would have likely been a top ten performance in the gold race. Yoder has the fastest time in North Dakota this season by almost 40 seconds and will look to add a Griak Gold title to his resume as one of the projected top three.

Staples-Motley junior and coaches class A no. 1 Emmet Anderson was second in the maroon race a year ago and will put his undefeated 2019 record on the line in the gold competition on Saturday. His emergence among the best in Minnesota includes an impressive win at the St Olaf Showcase and the second best season result in the field, his PR effort 15:09.4 at the very fast Moorhead Dragon Twilight. His season average over six races is 15:55 including several weeks with two races over a 5 or 6 day period.

The individual favorite is likely MS50 no. 7 ranked junior Parker Wolfe of Cherry Creek (CO) who comes in as the only runner to dip under 15 minutes this season and is currently the second fastest runner in Colorado. Parker's season best of 14:47 came at the Liberty Bell Classic on September 7 where he was runner-up to MS50 no. 2 ranked Cole Sprout (Valor Christian).

Other notable Minnesota competitors include another athlete from Staples-Motley, senior Hunter Klimek who has consistently been ranked in the top five in the MNXCCA coaches poll and brings a 15:29.2 PR to the gold field. He was 14th a year ago in the maroon race with a 17:09. His season best projects him to be strong competitor for a top ten finish in the gold race this year.

Wisconsin's second fastest athlete on the season, senior Noah Lundeen of Hudson will also be competitive for a top five spot with a 15:34.5 PR from this season. Senior Andrew Lauer of Sioux Falls Lincoln has also gone under 15:30 this season in a South Dakota best 15:18.2 at the Auggie Invite. 

Senior Brandon O'Hara of Perham, junior Geno Uhrbom of Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin and senior Colden Longley of Bloomington Jefferson are all names to watch to challenge the front runners. O'Hara was fourth at the D1 Milaca Mega meet and third at the St Olaf Showcase. Uhrbom is the defending class A triple crown winner taking the XC and 1600 & 3200m track titles in 2018-19 and was 17th at NXR last season. Colden Longley finished as runner-up behind Emmet Anderson at St Olaf in a sprint finish and was 10th last season in the maroon race in 16:56, a time he has bettered by at least 50 seconds every race this season.

Overall 17 athletes in the field have run under 16 minutes with another 22 who have run faster than 16:15 making the field a very unpredictable battle in the top ten. Eight teams have a season best team average under 16:40 with four of those brining a potential split under a minute meaning just a few passes along the way rewrite the team standings every few meters.