Summit High junior wins at national race in Minnesota

Josh Shriver and Lindsey Kiehl notch finishes within the top 20

Mike Hagen/Courtesy photo
Ella Hagen places first overall in the girls championship race at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota on Friday, Sept. 22.
Mike Hagen/Courtesy photo

At the beginning of the season, the Summit High School cross-country team did not anticipate taking a mid-season trip to Minnesota, but with air fares being low, and the Summit School District giving students a three-day weekend, the team had a chance to jump at the opportunity.

The Tigers were originally scheduled to attend the Northfield Nighthawk Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 23, but the team quickly changed its plans the week of the race when head coach Mike Hagen happened to find cheap tickets to Minneapolis. Several members of the Summit cross-country team ended up booking trips to race at the 37th annual Roy Griak Invitational taking place on Friday, Sept. 22, in hopes of competing well among a deep race field. 

Known across the country as one of the most competitive and “true cross-country courses” in the nation, this year’s Roy Griak Invitational featured four collegiate races and six high school races with each high school race consisting of 40 teams each.

Since Summit High was a late entry to the meet, the team was not able to field an entire team, but the Tigers still managed to make a strong showing in the boys and girls championship races.

After watching several nationally ranked college teams trod down the grass and stampede up the rolling hills of the Les Bolstad Golf Course, Summit High junior Josh Shriver, freshman Jay McDonald, junior Will Bentley and sophomore Cain Steinweg lined up among 404 other competitors for the boys championship race. 

With a boost from training at above 9,000 feet and enough strength to power up the steeper climbs spread out across the course, Shriver and McDonald got out to a quick start among the horde of distance runners.

Both boys latched onto one another over the opening mile of the 5-kilometer (3.1 mile) course with both runners hitting the mile mark in a time of 4 minutes and 59 seconds. 

Following Shriver and McDonald through the mile mark was Bentley in 141st place (5:13) and Steinweg in 335th (5:40.6). 

Over the next 2.1 miles, the four Tigers moved up significantly, with many advancing more than 50 places in the final stages of the race. From the mile to the 3-kilometer mark, Shriver hopped to 22nd place and closed hard over the last 2 kilometers to pass five more runners and place 17th overall (16:14.6).

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McDonald also moved up well through the second half of the race. The freshman phenom passed 34 people from the mile to the 3-kilometer mark before passing two other runners over the final 2 kilometers. Crossing the finish line in a time of 16:30.4, McDonald placed 26th overall and was the top freshman in the race by 33 seconds and 54 places.

Passing 50 runners from the mile mark to the finish line, Bentley notched a top-100 finish,placing 91st in (17:09.1), while Steinweg placed 264th (18:34.7).

The boys championship race was won by Clay Shively, a runner from Trinity Academy in Wichita, Kansas, (15:23.90) while Wisconsin’s Stevens Point High School took home the team title with 156 points. 

Mike Hagen/Courtesy photo
Josh Shriver navigates a turn during the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota on Friday, Sept. 22.
Mike Hagen/Courtesy photo

The girls championship race was just as monumental and exciting as the boys race, with junior Ella Hagen and senior Lindsey Kiehl showing off their fitness levels near the top of the race field.

While using her veteran experience in frontrunning, Hagen put herself in the main pack over the first mile, but made sure to stay tucked behind a few runners in order to save energy for the latter part of the race.

Hagen went through the mile in second place in 5:23.5 and quickly started following the footsteps of the first-place runner, junior Libby Castelli from O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

At the 3-kilometer mark, Hagen trailed Castelli by just under three seconds, but Hagen lengthened her stride over the final 2 kilometers as she smiled and powered her way to a first-place finish in a time of 17:55.7.

Castelli followed in second (18:03.9) while junior Norah Hushagen from Minnesota’s Forest Lake Area High School placed third (18:10.1). 

Kiehl displayed her burgeoning fitness after transferring from Battle Mountain High School over the summer. In her fourth race in a Summit singlet, Kiehl put on a master class in smart racing strategy, starting the race in the top 50 before moving up within the top 20 before crossing the finish line.

Kiehl went through the mile in 31st place with a time of 5:48.1 and moved past 13 runners to the 3-kilometer mark. She maintained her spot in 18th place over the last 2 kilometers, finishing 18th overall with a time of 19:26.3.

“I definitely had a lot of confidence racing at (closer to) sea level,” Kiehl said. “Coach Hagen encouraged me along the course by telling me what place I was in and my competitive self wanted to make awards. Having Ella win, and to podium myself was the ideal trip result.”

With 118 points, Minnesota’s Wayzata High School girls cross-country team won the team title in the championship race.

Mike Hagen/Courtesy photo
Lindsey Kiehl nears the finish line during the Roy Griak Invitational on Friday, Sept. 22 in Minnesota.
Mike Hagen/Courtesy photo

Summit will be close to home for its next race as the team will toe the line at The Summit Stinger at Copper on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Copper Mountain Resort.

“I’ve never raced at the Summit home meet, so I am super excited to race at Copper,” Kiehl said. “I’ve heard it’s a challenging mountain course, so that will be a fun one.”

The race is advertised as the highest and toughest grass high school cross-country course in the world, with the race featuring a maximum gradient of 22%. The event will begin with the middle school races at 10 a.m. before high school teams take to the course at 11 a.m.

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