MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – Up against other ranked teams for the first time this season, Texas men’s cross country came away from the Roy Griak Invitational with a sixth-place finish. Led by All-American Craig Lutz, the No. 24 Longhorns placed their top five runners 90th or better in the field of more than 300 runners while the Texas women finished in 22nd place.
Lutz charged out to the early lead and pushed the pace almost immediately and held onto that lead through the first half of the race before being overtaken by Michigan State’s Caleb Rhynard and Nate Jewkes of Southern Utah. He remained close to the leader the rest of the way before making a charge down the final stretch and passing Rhynard just before the finish line and taking second place. Jewkes bested Lutz by just under two seconds and helped lead Southern Utah to the team victory as well.
Lutz and Mark Pinales were in the top three early on in the race as the rest of the field was playing catchup to the pair of Longhorns. Pinales fell off the pace later in the race and dropped behind the leaders but was able to cross the line in 10thplace.
It was the first 8k race of the year for the men and the longest run of the year for the women as well at 6k. That added distance proved to be what did some of the Longhorns in down the stretch. Knowing that shortcoming this week will give cross country coach Brad Herbster something to improve upon heading into the rest of the schedule.
“Lutz raced really well,” Herbster said. “Pinales and Jacob Pickle were solid for us in their first 8k of the season. We need to finish the race stronger on the men’s side as our four through seven runners just fell off in the last 1,000 meters. We must have more fight.”
Two freshman shined for Texas to provide the team with some young depth heading into the rest of the season. Pickle finished 36th overall and third on the team while Robert Uhr took 90th overall. Junior Brady Turnbull finished 77th for the men’s squad.
The women’s team was in an incredibly deep field with seven teams ranked in the top 30 in the nation and ran a solid race. Sandie Raines led the Longhorns with her finish in 69th place in 22:41 over the 6,000 meter course. Sophomore Katie Ruhala was the next finisher for Texas in 95th out of 390 runners as the women struggled to run as a pack early.
“Our women got splintered early and had some people really far back and did not finish strong,” Herbster added. “It was a tough day but we will do much better in three weeks.”
Texas saw some more Big 12 Conference teams this week with Iowa State’s women finishing in second place behind Michigan State. The Iowa State men finished just ahead of the Longhorns in fifth place with the Cyclones placing their top five runners all in the top 60. Baylor and Kansas also were in action at the Griak Invitational this year.
The Longhorns will turn their attention to their next race in three weeks when they will again face one of the strongest fields in the country that weekend. The NCAA Pre National Invitational is set for October 18 in Terre Haute, Indiana on the course that will host the NCAA Championships.