Stowe, Zarda Lead Jayhawks at Roy Griak Invitational
Sept. 24, 2011
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Competing in one of the largest and most competitive meets of the season, the University of Kansas women's cross country team placed 14th out of 26 teams at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The Jayhawk men placed 15th out of 24 teams.
"I thought there were some highlights on both sides," said Head Coach Stanley Redwine. "As a team, we went in hoping we could finish higher on both the men's and women's sides. I believe on both teams the gaps between our No. 1 and No. 5 runners is more than what we expected. We need to continue to close those gaps and compete better as a group."
For the second-consecutive meet the women were led by senior Rebeka Stowe who collected an 11th-place finish with a 6K time of 20:59. The finish marked the eighth time the Olathe, Kan., native collected a top-15 finish in her storied Kansas career.
"I felt pretty good, I was able to move pretty well in the last half of the race," Stowe recalled. "I need to be more aggressive coming down the final stretch but that's just a learning thing."
Other KU women who put forth solid performances were senior Kara Windisch, who was the second Jayhawk to finish. The Overland Park, Kan., native crossed the finish line in 21:32 to place 37th overall. The next three KU women to finish were juniors Kyra Kilwein (22:11) at 87th overall, Tessa Turcotte (22:13) at 91st overall and senior Cori Christensen (22:30) who placed 112th.
"Rebeka (Stowe) and Kara (Windisch) ran very close for the majority of the race," Redwine said. "Kara got put in no-man's-land but she did a pretty good job of competing. After that we had too much time between our No. 2 and No. 5 runners throughout the race. They can all learned from what they did in a big race."
On the men's side, junior Zach Zarda returned from a three-week hiatus to lead the Jayhawks for the second meet this season. His 8K time of 24:50 was good enough to push him to a 38th-place finish and paved the way for the men's team to finish 15th out of 24 teams.
"I feel like I definitely gave it all I had on the course," Zarda explained. "I feel like there are some improvements I can make. I can definitely improve on finishing the race stronger."
Senior Austin Bussing had another good outing, and was the second Jayhawk to cross the finish line. Bussing notched a 46th-place finish and finished with a time of 25:00, a personal best. Rounding out the men's team scoring were freshman James Wilson (25:12), freshman Reid Buchannan (25:30), junior Josh Baden (25:52), sophomore Emilio Trujillo (25:55) and sophomore Jose Muñoz (26:22).
"(Zach) Zarda competed well and (Austin) Bussing competed well," Redwine explained. "They ran together and helped each other out with James Wilson right there. The freshmen were in a big field for the first time and so they learned a lesson. Hopefully it gave them something they can learn from."
The 26th annual Roy Griak Invitational was the largest race in its history with approximately 4,000 student-athletes making up 350 teams in 10 separate races (four high school and six collegiate). Kansas competed in the Gold Division comprised of mostly NCAA Division I schools.
"The first two races were smaller races and it was much easier to position themselves throughout the race," Redwine concluded. "Today, they learned what competition in these big races is all about. As we move forward we need to continue to close those gaps and compete better as a group."
Lawi Lalang of Arizona won the men's competition (23:15) while Deborah Maier of California took home the women's title (20:29).
Kansas will now have two weeks to prepare for the Haskell Invitational in Lawrence, Kan. on Oct. 8. The day is slated to kick-off at 9 a.m. at Haskell's campus course. For results and a full recap of the races, log on to kuathletics.com