For the fourth straight year, the Northern Illinois cross country team will compete against some of the nation’s toughest runners when the Huskies travel Saturday, Sept. 25, to Minnesota to compete in the 25th annual Roy Griak Invitational. Action for the Huskies will kick-off at 1:10 p.m. at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
One of the largest cross country meets in the nation, the invitational will feature nine top-30 teams including Arizona (24), Duke (7), Iowa State (15), Minnesota (28), New Mexico (18), North Carolina (30), Penn State (27), Providence (27) and Rice (29).
“I think it is always good to run against good competition,” said NIU assistant cross country coach Mark McConeghey. “We may not be on the level of some of these teams yet, but competing against them helps us improve. We have several girls who, I believe, will compete better just because competition is stronger.”
With only three meets left before the 2010 Mid-American Conference Championships, the Huskies will get a glimpse of their MAC competition when they face runners from Central Michigan and Toledo.
Facing strong competition from both nationally-ranked teams and conference opponents, McConeghey sees this meet as an opportunity to gauge the team’s performance at this stage in the season.
“In a race this size it is really hard to see where you are compared to just a few schools, like Toledo or CMU, because there are so many runners and so many great schools competing,” McConeghey said. “But I think seeing the results of this race and how the ladies fare will help us gauge where we are at as a team at this point in the season.”
Last season, NIU raced to a 16th-place finish when sophomore Courtney Oldenburg crossed the finish line in 44th place to lead the Huskies. Seniors Sunsea Shaw and Breanna Brevitt and sophomore Amanda Trancoso were also among the top finishers for the Huskies at the Griak Invite. Oldenburg’s result was the best finish by a Huskie at the invitational since entering the meet in 2007.
Following this weekend’s meet, NIU will head to South Bend, Ind. to compete Saturday, Oct. 2, in the Notre Dame Invitational.
For more information on NIU cross country and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.