The Charlotte women's cross country team is heading to Falcon Heights, Minn. this weekend to compete in the 26th annual Roy Griak Invitational. Teams from across the nation will convene at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday to compete in what is one of the nation's largest cross country events.
Eight of the top 30 teams in the nation will be competing in this year's women's 5K race, including #8 Iowa State, #10 Arizona and #11 Washington. Race time is set for 2:10 p.m. ET.
"We're going out there to chase after some of the top 30 teams in the nation," head coach Ed Schlichter said on Wednesday. "Since the point scoring system starts this weekend, it's an opportunity for us to get a ‘win'. In our pursuit of being the best team that Charlotte's ever had, we're going out there to try to knock off some of the big dogs."
The Charlotte women's squad will be heading into Saturday's event with high expectations for success, as head coach Ed Schlichter will be showing many of his top runners for the first time this season. Most notably, Niners fans can expect to see senior Amanda Goetschius, a 2010 All-American in the 5,000-meters who red-shirted in cross country last fall, compete in her first race of the season.
Senior Aurora Trujillo and junior Maria Ruiz will also compete in their first meet of the fall. Ruiz was a scorer for the Niners at the 2011 Atlantic 10 track & field championships in the 3000-meter steeplechase, while Trujillo was one of the top five in cross country last season.
Katie Holloway is another runner to watch on the women's side. At the inaugural race for the 49ers at Frank Liske Park on Sept. 10th, Holloway finished in a course record time of 18:14.88, over 25 seconds ahead of #2 finisher Maureen O'Donnell of A10 rival St. Joseph's.
Hana Sutchar and Maraya Slatter are among the top 49ers, as well. Sutchar led the Niners to a second-place finish at last weekend's Elon Invite with a personal best time, while Slatter, the #2 Charlotte finisher at the Charlotte Duals meet, will look to use her long distance experience to the team's advantage.
Rookies Kristen Stout, Jenna Christensen and Jen Molke, all of whom ran well at Elon last weekend, will look to gain experience while taking advantage of the great course and competition in Minnesota.
"It's going to be probably one of the most competitive meets that Charlotte's ever been in," Schlichter said. "I really feel good about our squad. We've got the right ladies going out there this weekend to get something done."
Teams competing in the Division I Women's Gold Race:
#8 Iowa State
Long Beach State
#26 Michigan State
#21 North Carolina State
North Dakota State
#18 Penn State
South Dakota State