UConn XC competes in Roy Griak Invite
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 00:10
The UConn women’s cross country team headed to Minneapolis last weekend to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational. The event, hosted by the University of Minnesota, was the Huskies’ first meet of 2012 that carried significant NCAA Championship implications, and the team came away from the meet with a fourth- place finish.
Despite the fact that there were 20 teams and over 200 runners present at the 6K race, Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough knew exactly which teams the Huskies would be directly competing against. Fifth-ranked Iowa State, 15th-ranked Weber State, Minnesota and UConn composed the members of the “race within the race,” and even though UConn finished fourth out of those four teams, they still came away with a moral victory.
“It's sort of a bummer when you know that there’s four teams that are good, and yet you finish fourth out of those four, but at the same time it really was a debut for the team,” Grove-McDonough said. “For a lot of the kids who did run, it was their opener.”
Leading the way for the Huskies was sophomore Lindsay Crevoiserat, who finished sixth overall with a time of 21:23. Following Crevoiserat were junior Allison Lasnicki, who took fourth place with a time of 21:29, junior co-captain Lauren Sera (12th, 21:43), and freshman Julia Zrinyi (29th, 22:13). Rounding out the UConn roster were seniors Shauna McNiff (36th, 22:20) and Allison Cooper (113th, 23:47), freshman Emily Durgin (124th, 24:01), senior Kim Moran (141st, 24:28) and freshman Abby Mace (176th, 25:26).
Overall, Grove-McDonough was “pleased, but not satisfied” by her team’s effort. Given that Iowa State was ranked so highly, she didn’t expect the team to closely compete with the Cyclones one-on-one. However, Weber State and Minnesota, she thought, presented a more manageable challenge.
“We knew that there were really only four teams that were going to be out front and sort of fighting it out. We also knew that Iowa State was going to be in a league of its own, being a top-five team, and we weren’t looking to directly compete with them,” Grove-McDonough said. “We were really keying off of Weber State and Minnesota. We knew that, after those two, there weren’t really any other teams of their caliber.”
The point differential that separated UConn and second-place finisher Weber State was painfully small, just six points, and the difference between the Huskies and third place was an even smaller two points.
“Obviously it was close. It was six points standing between us and second, and two points between us and third,” Grove-McDonough said.
But despite a less than desirable team finish, Grove-McDonough’s squad had more than a few solid individual finishes, namely that of freshman Julia Zrinyi. The Canada native and reigning 800-meter Junior National Champion came into her first cross-country race with high expectations, and Zrinyi either met or exceeded every one of them.
“We were thrilled with her debut,” Grove-McDonough said. “She ran down a ton of people in the last 800 meters. The race was twice as far as she’d ever run, and she hadn’t even run cross country in two years. My big concern was putting her out there in a 6,000- meter race on a course that is so challenging, but she really handled it like a pro. I was thrilled with the day she had.”
Zrinyi appears to be locked in as the Huskies fifth runner going forward, a fact which ought to relieve some of the pressure on the part of both Grove-McDonough and the top four runners.
UConn’s effort over the weekend bumped them up two spots in the USTFCCCA Northeast Regional rankings, and Grove-McDonough expects her team to receive some votes in the national poll as well. On the bright side, the 2012 season is still relatively young. The Huskies head to Westfield, Mass. next weekend to compete in the New England Championships, and then, it's on to the Wisconsin Invitational, where the team hopes to make a move into the national rankings.
Despite the fact that UConn finished fourth at the Griak Invitational, the team showed that at the very least it can run with and compete with the nation’s top-ranked teams. In that way, the Griak was an exciting indicator of what is on the horizon for Grove-McDonough and her squad.