By: MileSplit's Cory Mull
Over 100 high school teams from 10 states are set compete at the 32nd Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minnesota LIVE on FloTrack.
In the elite gold race, some of the nation's best will toe the line for a chance to win a treasured title at one of the country's best events.
A year ago, the Wayzata (Minnesota) boys claimed their third title in four years. Will 2017 mark the year someone else earns a championship, or will the squad continue to dominate in their home state? Similarly, the Edina (Minnesota) girls earned a title last year before moving on to win state and earn a bid to NXN.
Yorkville High Girls (Illinois)
Illinois' No. 2-ranked team in 3A
The team's best result of the young season came at the First to the Finish Invitational, where Yorkville placed second -- just behind Naperville North (Illinois) -- with 109 points. Finishing four runners inside the top 20 and averaging 18:06 between its scoring five, the team put together an important performance.
The squad was led by junior Emily Eberhart, who was 12th overall in 17:45.40, while senior Alyssa Edwards (17th), junior Olivia Borowiak (18th), and freshman Helena Kleronomos followed.
The program will be looking to challenge Naperville North for a state title in 3A this year and a great outing at Roy Griak will be indicative of just where the program stands within its season. Yorkville opened its season on August 21 with perfect 15 point outing at the Yorkville Invitational.
Edina High Girls (Minnesota)
Top-ranked girls team in the state and No. 13 nationally
The girls team, which won a AA title last year and qualified for NXN, had a heavy lift on September 2 at the Spartan Invitational in Iowa, going toe-to-toe with Naperville North (Illinois) and Johnston (Iowa) in a meet with three nationally teams -- Edina, included.
But the program, now ranked No. 13 nationally, handled itself nicely, watching as senior Emily Kompelien ran well as the team's No. 1.
Edina put together a 19:09 average across its scoring five and finished all five of its runners in the top 16, scoring just 45 points -- against Naperville North's 32. Roy Griak will be the team's next pivotal competition and it will shed light on whether the team can repeat with its second straight state championship and qualify for NXN yet again. A year ago, the team won this very meet and will be looking to repeat.
Dowling Catholic Girls (Iowa)
The program is currently having quite the inner battle with Johnston (Iowa) High for supremacy in the state. The girls from Des Moines are currently ranked No. 1 in the state when it comes to statistical-based comparisons in Class 4A, though it finished sixth at state last year.
And on Sept. 16, it was Johnston that edged Dowling Catholic at the Heartland Classic in Ames, scoring 108 points to the program's 119. Still, that was an impressive enough performance that displayed everything you need to know about Dowling Catholic.
That includes a 44-second spread between its five scorers and three runners in the top 26 places. If Dowling Catholic shores up its back of the pack, the team could be dangerous in Iowa moving forward.
Great Oak Boys (California)
No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in California
The program is heading from its first-place effort in a talented field at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic to Roy Griak, where they'll face another highly touted foe in Wayzata. What's new? The Great Oak boys have racked up national prominence based on their ability to respond and compete. Led by senior Carlos Carvajal and his fifth-place nod at Woodbridge (14:20.40), the team scored 83 points and had a 14:37 average at the 3-mile distance.
The team also produced a 30-second spread between its scorers at Woodbridge -- that's significant. Weeks prior, the Seaside Invitational was more of the same for the team. Carvajal won the senior race (14:12.40), Ryan Shields was fourth in the junior challenge (15:12.90), and Gabriel Abbes won the sophomore race (14:42.40).
With travel and fatigue to manage, Great Oak's competitors won't do them any favors, but expect the squad to compete for the win.
Wayzata Boys (Minnesota)
No. 4 nationally
It's been two up and two down for Wayzata in 2017. The program will vie for its fourth title in five seasons on Saturday at Roy Griak.
They're coming off a great outing at the Columbus Catholic Invitational on September 2, where junior Grant Price (15:45.50) and senior Khalid Hussein (15:49.40) went 1-2 as the team scored 25 points in a solid 15-team field. The program posted remarkable 19-second spread and averaged 15:56 between its five scorers, all five of whom placed inside the top 10.
Wayzata had its sixth, seventh, and eighth runners in the top 13 places as well. The team opened up its season at the St. Cloud Apollo Early Bird Invitational with a near perfect 16 points.
The team heads into the gold race as one of the favorites.
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