ady runners take home invitational in style

David La

Immediately following their first-ever win at Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational, members of the women’s cross country team remained in close proximity.
Amid a crowd of runners representing colleges all over the country, Victoria Moses stood talking with well-wishers, a few feet from Elaine Eggleston drinking water, not far from Corrine Nimtz who sported a gold ribbon in her hair as she walked through the exhausted congregation.
In this fashion, each runner by themselves but certainly not alone, No. 12 Minnesota secured a team victory in the women’s Division I gold race.
“Every race there are people who feel good and people who feel OK,” co-captain Eggleston said. “But this is one of those races where the whole team went out and did their job.”
“They did a wonderful job today,” Minnesota coach Gary Wilson said. “This is by far the best performance we’ve ever had here.”
Led by the fifth-place Nimtz, appearing in her last Griak race, four members of the Gophers contingent crossed the finish line within 34 seconds of one another.
Following not far behind Nimtz — who “ran her usual great race,” Wilson said — came Darja Vasiljeva (8), then Eggleston (13), with Chrissy Eid (29) rounding out the top four.
But the timely arrival of Moses at No. 43 proved pivotal. With her hair done in customary braids, Moses dropped a minute 18 seconds off her time two weeks ago, a pleasant surprise from an unknown commodity.
“Our top four performed like I thought they would, but our fifth was the key today,” Wilson said. “(Moses has) been coming on, but that was her best collegiate race to date.”
“I felt really good today,” Moses said. “I moved up significantly from where I’ve been previously.”
The confidence level of the team also received a welcomed boost. Both Eggleston and Moses took notice of the team’s demeanor Saturday morning, a potent mix of confidence and focus hanging heavy in the cold air.
The preparation was matched by the results.
“I knew that we were really going hard out there,” Nimtz said. “It was scary in a way, but it seemed to be going well, so I just went with it.”
With just less than two months until the NCAA meet, the Gophers look to build on the Griak win en route to securing their goal; a top-10 finish nationally. After a third-place Griak finish last season, Minnesota went on to place 17th at the NCAA meet.
“This is a very, very good indicator,” Wilson said. “If you can win this thing, you’ve got a shot at being top-10 in the country.”
In winning the Griak, Minnesota surpassed a score of top teams, and most importantly, self-doubt.
“Wilson keeps telling us that our team is good, and can be top-10 in the nation,” Eggleston said. “And winning this meet shows us that we are good.”

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]