From left to right: Olivia Verde, Sydney Drevlow, Anjali Hocker Singh, and Norah Hushagen
The 2023 Roy Griak Invitational is nearly here and some of the best teams and runners from the Midwest and across the country will come together at the prestigious meet to come away with some hardware at the University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course.
Here we preview the girl's Championship race which is the new top-tier race at Roy Griak with the Gold race and Maroon race now being of equal competitiveness.
2023 Roy Griak Invitational - Girls Championship Preview
Top Individuals: Ella Hagen (16:55.10), Norah Hushagen (17:31.10), Libby Castelli (17:31.11), Sydney Drevlow (17:35.80), Anjali Hocker Singh (17:41.20), Avery Marasco-Johnson (18:02.50), Emily Hein (18:09), Audrey Brownell (18:09.50), Linnea Ousdigian (18:15.70), Kyanna Burton (18:19.20), & Evie Malec (18:22.20)
On the surface, there appears to be only four contenders in the field here in the four girls above who have run sub 18 minutes, but look below the surface the the meet is full of talent that could surprise and come away with the individual victory.
Update: It appears that Summit, Colorado's Ella Hagen will be competing. She has a PR of 16:55.10 which ranks #4 nationally this season for the 5K. She recently also won the National High School Trail Championships.
Two of the front runners are currently Minnesota juniors in Forest Lake's Norah Hushagen who has run the #2 time in Minnesota this year and Sydney Drevlow who has run the #3 time. Both return from last year's meet after Drevlow finished 5th and Hushagen finished 12th. Hushagen will be one of the most experienced Roy Griak runners with this being her fourth time competing here.
Right in between the Minnesota gals in the projected finish is South Dakota standout Libby Castelli who is undefeated on the season and has run 17:31 twice. Castelli finished 3rd at the meet last year and is this year's top returner after last year's first two finisher graduated.
All three of Hushagen, Castelli, and Drevlow rank inside the top 40 girls 5K runners nationally this season by time.
Not far behind the top three is Olatha North senior Anjali Hocker Singh who is a Griak veteran and has previously finished 4th overall in 2021. Anjali is the only other runner in the field who has run under 18 minutes for the 5K this season which she did at the Olathe Twilight meet. She is undefeated on the season.
Behind those girls there is still plenty of talent and some dark horse contenders that could surprise or even come away with the win. Evie Malec of Minnetonka is a rising freshman who as an 8th-grader ran 17:53 and owns a 4:50 mile PR. Olivia Verde of Johnston holds a 17:44 5K PR from last year's Heartland Regional. Luna Scorzelli might be back finally for Highland Park and she is a Minnesota state champion and owns a PR of 17:25. Finally, Emily Mehta of Mounds View holds a 17:55 5K PR from the RunningLane XC Championships.
It's a deep field of runners and who knows what a tough Les Bolstad course might hold for all the hopefuls in the field.
Top Teams: Brandon Valley (143), Wayzata (154), Minnetonka (158), Johnston (209), Olathe North (267), Saint Paul Highland Park (292), Slinger (326), Ankeny (361), Perham (374.5), and Eastview (375)
MileSplit50 Ranked: Minnetonka (#24), Wayzata (HM), Saint Paul Highland Park (HM), & Mounds View (HM)
It appears to be a three-team race in the girl's Championship with South Dakota's Brandon Valley projected just ahead of Minnesota's Wayzata and Minnetonka. Behind them, there is a plethora of strong teams that will vie for season-best performances to try and bridge that gap with or even overtake those three front-runners.
Minnetonka is the only MileSplit50 ranked team in the field and ranks as the fastest team with an 18:55 average from its runners. Minnetonka has been led this year by Avery Marasco-Johnson and Evie Malec who rank as the top duo at the meet. Those two have led the Minnetonka girls to the #2 rank in Minnesota just narrowly behind Wayzata. So far this year they have yet to win a meet with their preferred runners, but might just be saving their best for Griak.
The defending champions are back and will try to defend their title from a year ago when Wayzata beat Cherry Creek (CO) for the team title by just a point. Wayzata graduated their top three runners from last year's meet, but they still just keep coming back with strong teams. This year they are led by Jazleen Malherek-Osorio who has led Wayzata to two meet victories. This year Wayzata is winning with a strong spread of 44 seconds which is the third-lowest spread in the field.
The final main contender is the projected winners in Brandon Valley who rank as the #2 team in South Dakota and the top team in our field. This season they have two meet victories, including a big win at the Augustana Twilight. They are led by a strong duo in Adison Scholten and Mia Wenty who both own season-best times of 18:30 or better. They own the second-best 5K average in the field but own a much stronger spread than the fastest team in Minnetonka.
Some teams that could be a dark horse for a high finish or that could even beat the three main contenders include Johnston who is Iowa's #2 team and is very deep; St. Paul Highland Park who only graduated one varsity scorer and finished 5th last year; Wisconsin's #3 ranked team in Slinger; and Mounds View who has the high-end talent to compete but lacks depth.
Full Roy Griak Virtual Meet
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