Cross Country Finishes Action At Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational

Cross Country Finishes Action At Minnesota's Roy Griak Invitational

Provided by MSU

Sept. 24, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Michigan State cross country team traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., on Saturday, Sept. 24 to race in the Roy Griak Invitational for the first team-scored event of the season. Overall, the women were the top-ranked Big Ten team as they finished fourth with 148 points, while the men placed eighth with 246 points.

"It was definitely a pretty good race today," said director of cross country and track & field Walt Drenth. "It was a good place to start. I was happy with both genders. I really felt for our first major competition, we have taken a step forward."

The men opened up the strong day for the Spartans with the Merrill Fischbein Men's Gold Competition. Leading the Green and White in the race was senior Joe Dimambro. Dimambro posted a season-best time of 24:44.7 to finish 26th overall. Junior Kevin Yarnell trailed Dimambro by less than three seconds as he finished in 24:47.1 for 31st place.

Senior Aaron Simoneau tuned in a top-40 finish with his time of 24:51.1, crossing the line in 40th overall. Junior Isaiah Vandoorne and freshman David Madrigal rounded out the top-five finishers for the Spartans. Vandoorne clocked in at 25:22.5 for 74th and narrowly beat Madrigal's 25:23.0 for 75th.

"I think this race gave us a lot of confidence, because we aren't completely in sync, yet. Aaron (Simoneau) was probably our sixth or seventh guy, and he just moved through the field really, really well. Kevin (Yarnell) and Joe (Dimambro) did a really nice job of going up and running in the front portion of the race. We have several individuals coming back from a few injuries last year, so we are all kind of feeling our way along. It is sort of a growth process," noted Drenth.

Claiming the team crown was North Carolina State with 96 team points. Portland (114 points) and race host Minnesota (153 points) rounded out the top-three finishers. Lawi Lalang of Arizona set a new course record to win the event in 23:15.5

The Spartan women concluded the day in the Jack Johnson Women's Gold Competition. Freshman Julia Otwell clocked in at 21:14.5, good enough for 20th. Senior Carlie Green was the second to cross, finishing 22nd in 21:15.7.

"Julia had a really good summer of training. Actually, all of us did. I felt that as a team we are better than where we were last year. Carlie, mentally, is a better runner. Julia, actually, didn't run by Carlie until the very end of the race. Carlie led us from start to finish for the most part," said Drenth.

Sophomore Sara Kroll and senior Rebekah Smeltzer finished in 27th and 33rd, respectively. Kroll turned in a time of 21:20.1 while Smeltzer clocked a 21:27.8. Junior Rachel McFarlane rounded out MSU in 46th, as she turned in a time of 21:42.7.

California and Iowa State shared the team title, as each posted 128 points. Arizona State was third with 131 points.

Deborah Miller from California placed first overall with a time of 20:29.2.

Michigan State returns to action on Friday, Oct. 7, when members of the team travel to the Michigan Intercollegiate Championships in Hillsdale, Mich.