Anderson’s early lead set the pace for Minnesota

Griak 2008

Stephen Maturen

Griak 2008

Minnesota womenâÄôs cross country coach Gary Wilson was all smiles after his team repeated as Roy Griak Invitational champions last Saturday. And a big finish for the team somewhat overshadowed an individual performance that helped Minnesota get there. Senior Gabriele Anderson jumped out to an early lead for the Gophers and brought several members of the nationâÄôs largest team with her. Through the first mile of the WomenâÄôs Gold Race, Minnesota was on pace to have seven runners finish in the top 16 behind AndersonâÄôs early jump. And such a strong jump is as vital to a teamâÄôs success as a strong finish according to Wilson. âÄúThatâÄôs what happened last year with Nikki Swenson at the conference meet. She went out (strong) and then she suffered, but she took our whole group and thatâÄôs what (Anderson) did (Saturday),âÄù Wilson said. âÄúGabe wanted to finish in the top-10, and she was just barreling. Former Gopher leads pack Former Minnesota menâÄôs cross country runner Justin Grunewald clocked a field-best time of 25:09 in SaturdayâÄôs MenâÄôs Maroon II race. Grunewald, running as an unattached competitor after completing his eligibility with the Gophers last season, was the first competitor to cross the finish line of the 8,000-meter course. Nicholas Johnson of Huntington (Ind.) was the official winner with a time of 25:16 while Drury (Mo.) won the team title with 109 points. MenâÄôs All-Americans Minnesota menâÄôs coach Steve Plasencia said his two All-Americans still had room to improve after running their first race of the season. A second-place finish in the menâÄôs Division I individual competition for Hassan Mead was able to make up for a slow start from the sophomore. âÄúI donâÄôt want to say IâÄôm struggling, but I kind of have problem not going out as hard as everyone else does. I donâÄôt know why,âÄù Mead said. âÄúIâÄôm working on it. I thought I went out fast, just everyone else went faster and I kind of got boxed in.âÄù After the slow start, Mead dropped back to around 50th place near the first kilometer âÄî something Mead says he canâÄôt afford to do as the season continues. âÄúHe got out a little bit slow and he had to move up through the field a little more than I would have liked to see him doâÄù,âÄù Gophers menâÄôs coach Steve Plasencia said. Senior Chris Rombough was the Gophers second man across the line in 13th âÄî ten spots behind his third-place finish one year ago. âÄúChris ran okay,âÄù Plasencia said. âÄúIt wasnâÄôt a great day for him by any means; he can run better than that.âÄù Rombough was also âÄúdisappointedâÄù in his finish, saying he thought himself and Mead could finish the race in first and second after being two of the top returners to this yearâÄôs Griak.