Girls XC takes home first at Roy Griak Invitational


Lily Hudson

The girls country team looks at the scoreboard as it displays their first place score.

On September 28, the girls cross country team placed first in the Roy Griak Invitational, making it the first time Shorewood has won the meet in 10 years. 

The meet, located at the University of Minnesota, is the biggest meet that the team participates in every year. Only the top ten runners compete in the race, but the rest of the team competes in the Mustang Invitational the day before. 

The girls cross country team was in the maroon division this year, which had 50 complete teams from across North America racing. Going into the meet, the girls knew they had a good chance of winning. Through taking a look at other teams performances and comparing them to their own, Sarah Kopplin, head coach, predicted that they could win the meet.

“When you look at the personal best performances of all of our runners and you compare it to the personal best performances of the other teams, I definitely knew that is was possible,” Kopplin said. “You just never know how people might respond and have all of our runners be able to respond and have a really strong race on the same day, that’s a hard thing to have happen.”

Despite knowing they could win the meet in advance, the team was still very excited when they found out.

“When we found out we were screaming and crying, everyone was so happy because we still didn’t expect it. We knew we could do it, it was just a matter of believing that we could,” Abby Gandrud, senior and co-captain.

We knew we could do it, it was just a matter of believing that we could.

— Abby Gandrud, senior and co-captain

Bella Lozier, sophomore, placed fourth overall. To her, placing fourth was a bit surprising.

“I was not expecting being in fourth because we were so far behind in the beginning of the race,” Lozier said. “So that was a really pleasant surprise. Griak is a super hard course and so it felt significantly, not easier, but better than it did last year, so I was very happy about that.”

Starting off at a conservative pace is part of the team’s strategy. The course had both mile and kilometer markers, and though they weren’t in front in the beginning, they slowly moved up.

“They tackled those hills and I could tell that we were much higher up in terms of team positioning,” Kopplin said. And then when I saw at the 4k marker, we were in 1st place. So I knew unless something crazy happened in the last thousand meters, that we had this opportunity to win this race.”

Gandrud feels that this win is a perfect way to end her last season in high school cross country.

“This is the best thing that I could have wished for,” Gandrud said. “We have the most supportive team and we have the most fun, but yet we’re also just so good. It’s really incredible to see all of our hard work come to fruition and see everyone just embrace the suck everyday and get things done.”

Kopplin feels that their performance at Griak will help solidify their goals for the rest of the season and raise the runners’ confidence.

I’m hoping as a coach that it gives these runners confidence in their own abilities.

— Sarah Kopplin, head coach

“I’m hoping as a coach that it gives these runners confidence in their own abilities,” Kopplin said. “They’ve had [the goal of winning State] from day one, the beginning of the season, and I hope they realize that saying that goal out loud is not something that’s out of their reach.”