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Published June 12, 2024

Anything but ‘Grumpy’: U runner sees success

Last season, Erik Grumstrup had a reason to be “grumpy.” He started the season as the Gophers’ top finisher in the Brigham Young University Autumn Classic. But after that, Grumstrup slowly slid off the map, ending his season with a 58th-place finish in the Big Ten meet.

Grumstrup was able to look past his own inconsistencies and support his team during its 17th-place finish in the NCAA championship meet.

“His nickname is ‘Grump,’ which is a bit of a misnomer,” coach Steve Plasencia said. “He is the kind of upbeat guy who always has a smile on his face.”

This season, Grumstrup started out the same, leading the Gophers with a sixth-place overall finish at the BYU Autumn Classic. The difference from last year is that Andrew Carlson, the Gophers’ top runner, is injured and might miss more meets.

“I don’t think anybody is necessarily filling in for Andrew,” Grumstrup said. “We are all out there and aware that we need to run tough. The fact that he’s injured right now makes that a little more evident to us.”

Grumstrup might not point it out, but his coach and teammates agree he is growing into a leadership position.

“He has immense potential and ability,” Carlson said. “He really leads by example.”

Carlson, along with teammates Josh DoBell and Luke Mullranin, trained with Grumstrup in Colorado during summer 2002. They stayed at Grumstrup’s grandparents’ cabin near Steamboat Springs, Colo., a mountainous area with elevations between 9,000 and 10,500 feet.

The teammates trained for a month, adapting to the elevated heart and respiratory rates that come with running in an above-sea level climate. They also took advantage of the terrain.

“We trained and ran a lot, so we did our best to stay sane, by doing a lot of hiking and traveling to other towns,” Grumstrup said.

Carlson was named an All-American last season following the Colorado training, and now Grumstrup, in his junior year, has his best chance to put his experiences to use.

The Gophers are looking for their seventh-straight trip to the NCAA meet, but Grumstrup is no stranger to good teams.

Grumstrup helped lead Stevens High School in Rapid City, S.D., to boys’ cross country state championships every year he was on varsity, and won the individual state championship three straight years.

Forrest Flaagan, the Raiders’ coach, lists Grumstrup as one of the two best runners he’s ever coached. The other is Greg Jimmerson, who now runs for the Nike farm team. Flaagan also expects Grumstrup to step up to his leadership role for Minnesota.

“He wants a successful team atmosphere,” Flaagan said. “He makes sure that everyone

understands their value to the team. He brings that positive team feeling, even though he is an individual star.”

Even if Grumstrup has some inconsistencies this season, the irony of his nickname will likely shine through.

“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just stay positive,” Grumstrup said.

Gophers improve at BYU

Plasencia said he was pleased with his runners’ individual performances at the BYU Autumn Classic on Saturday, but the team’s performance was hard to read.

There was confusion at the end of the meet as the Gophers left the course thinking they finished second, but found out later they finished third because of a change in the results.

“From an individual standpoint, I think we showed that we improved significantly from last year, but right now we are not deep,” Plasencia said.

BYU sophomore Kip Kangogo was the meet’s top finisher. Kangogo was the top finisher in last year’s Roy Griak Invitational and will be competing in the race again Sept. 27.

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