Meet Record In Danger At Roy Griak Invitational

Conner Mantz vs. Wesley Kiptoo.

What more could you possibly want?

For the second week in a row, cross country fans will be treated to a matchup featuring multiple men who finished top-10 at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships this past spring in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Last week, Nico Young (fourth) and Abdihamid Nur (seventh) of Northern Arizona squared off against Isai Rodriguez of Oklahoma State (eighth) at the Cowboy Jamboree. Now, it’s the reigning individual champion going head-to-head against the man who isn’t afraid to push the pace and led through 6k this past spring in Stillwater.

Kiptoo and Mantz went out hard from the gun on the OSU Cross Country Course, covering the first 1k in an absurd 2:31.5 and 2:31.7, respectively. The pace didn’t slow down at all until they got into the hilly section of the course after 4k – Kiptoo split 2:52.2 and 2:51.1 from 2k to 3k and 3k to 4k, respectively – and, by that time, Alex Masai of Hofstra joined the fray with eventual individual runner-up Adriaan Wildschutt of Florida State right behind them.

What does this mean for Friday at 10:30 am CT, when the Merrill Fischbein Men’s Gold Race gets underway at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minnesota? Well, the long-standing meet record of 23:15.5, set by Lawi Lalang of Arizona back in 2011, could be in danger.

Fastest Winning Times In Roy Griak Invitational History

Name
Program
Time
Year
Lawi Lalang
Arizona
23:15.5
2011
Kip Kangogo
BYU
23:38.9
2002
Stephan Sambu
Arizona
23:41
2010
Simon Bairu
Wisconsin
23:43
2005
Elkanah Kibet
Auburn
23:55.3
2008
Jonah Kiptanus
Nebraska
23:57
1996
Kip Kangogo
BYU
23:58
2003
Matt Tegenkamp
Wisconsin
23:58
2001
Matt Tegenkamp
Wisconsin
24:02.0
2004
Bamaboa Korir
Iowa State
24:04.0
1987

Kiptoo and Mantz have a tough challenge ahead of them, though.

Anybody who raced the 6k or 8k tract at the Roy Griak Invitational knows the unforgiving, unrelenting nature of the course, designed by former Minnesota Director of Men’s Track & Field/Cross Country Steve Placensia 22 years ago. Placensia, who vividly remembers the late namesake of the meet telling him, “the most important aspect of a cross country meet is the course,” created the circuit with care, even though he said, “a lot of people think it’s just a piece of spaghetti on top of a golf course.”

Count Minnesota coaching legend and 2015 USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame inductee Gary Wilson as someone who knows the course demands respect. Wilson served as the meet director for a spell.

“Just on the 6k course I counted 52 little rises, which means as many, or more, downhills – and even more over 8000 meters,” Wilson said back in 2015. “Those people who try to fight the course really, really pay for it in the end. If you don’t become ‘one’ with the course, it beats the crap out of you.”

Ultimately, the winner of the men’s race might not be decided at the finish line.

“This spot right here (near the 7K mark) separates the men from the boys,” Placensia remembered Griak telling him when they toured the course.

All eyes will be on that 8k tract on Friday at 10:30 am CT.