Varsity cross country takes on Griak Invitational


courtesy Giselle Knox

Girls XC teams from across the Midwest compete in Minnesota

This year, the girl’s cross country season exhibited lots of persistence, participating in a number of events, including their annual Griak meet, in which they placed forty-third out of fifty three teams.

The meet was located in St. Paul, Minnesota and the course took place at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. Across the Midwest, runners view the notoriously rigorous and physically demanding Roy Griak Invitational (or more commonly referred to as Griak), as one of their more significant meets.

We ran on a beautiful college course that [was] very [mountainous] and more challenging to navigate

— Amie Gronert, junior

“It is [very] competitive so there is a lot more pressure,” said Angela Spheeris, freshman and girls JV runner. “It is definitely different from what we were used to…there’s teams coming from all across the Midwest.”

Griak has more athletes competing than most other seasonal races, with roughly 700 runners in comparison to the typical 100 that the Shorewood team is used to.

“[The meet] felt very professional,” said Claire Peilmeier, sophomore and varsity runner. “The environment of having so many teams is a lot more stressful.”

The course had more terrain and steeper hills than most of the other races that the team had run, making the course significantly more difficult. 

“We ran on a beautiful college course that [was] very [mountainous] and more challenging to navigate,” said Amie Gronert, junior and first runner on the varsity team.

Even with the extra challenge, the team persevered to the finish.

“The strategy is much [more] different, and it requires you to pace yourself differently,” Pielmeier said. “I’m proud of how our team did based on how hard of a meet this is.”

The team also sees Griak as an opportunity to learn about racing strategy in addition to being accustomed to the increase in competition. Some of the runners realized that advancing throughout the race was more difficult with larger amounts of competitors, which caused them to fall further behind the group than they had anticipated. 

This season has been successful for most runners on the team. Although there haven’t been as many victories as last year, the athletes still feel good about the season. 

“I think that where we are as a team right now, we’ve been very successful,” Pielmeier said. “We got a lot of new freshmen this year and everyone has been working hard this season.”

One of the most special aspects of Griak, according to the runners, is its opportunities for team bonding. 

I’m proud of how our team did based on how hard of a meet this is.

— Claire Pielmeier, sophomore

“We all build each other up and congratulate each other after all our races,” Pielmeier said. “We also do fire ups and gifts to get [runners] excited before their race. [Overall], we have a really good sense of community.”

The dynamic of the team has become more supportive this past season.

“It feels as though groups on the team have changed and there’s not as big of a divide between varsity and JV,” Gronert said.

To add to these qualities, the team has accustomed a set of fun traditions they partake in annually, including a bus trip to Minnesota with many fun activities. During the trip, runners did a cooldown run up a steep hill, and once at the top, they rolled their way back down, serving as a favorite of the team.

“We all spend time we normally wouldn’t have as a team,” Pielmeier said. “The team that’s not racing one day will dress up in costumes and cheer on the other team.” 

With the cross country season running along its final stretch, the athletes have shown enthusiasm towards what the future holds.

“We have a great team and our team bond is something we should be proud of,” Pielmeier said. “I can see us going far as a team this season.”