Venters Leads Women of Utah to Victory at Roy Griak Invitational
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Senior Emily Venters paved the way for the Utah cross country team on Friday at the Roy Griak Invitational, giving the Women of Utah a clean sweep at the podium in the 6k race.
With the victory Utah bested six other ranked teams – including a pair of teams ranked above the Utes. It was also the first team win for Utah this season and first since taking the Dellinger Invitational title last season.
"The team was tough today, not because we had to be, but because we wanted to be," said head coach Kyle Kepler postrace. "It was a true team effort!"
Venters kept within striking distance all race running alongside fellow teammate Keelah Barger as the pair slowly moved up throughout the race before Venters put things into high gear at the 5k mark to capture the individual victory by 5.9 ticks (20:33.2) to give the Lawrence, Kan., product her first-career collegiate victory.
"I just went into the race super level-headed and relaxed knowing that I had everything I needed within me to run the race I knew I could," Venters said after her win. "First race of the season, so no pressure I told myself. I wanted the win and when I saw the opportunity to start going for it, I took it and just tried not to look back! It's pretty sentimental for me honestly to finally win a college race after just so much adversity the past three years."
Barger was not far behind Venters and crossed the finish line at 20:46.5 for fourth-place. Ariel Keklak also used a final kick at the end to pass three runners in the final 1k to place 17th, her best finish in the 6k at the Division I level, with a time of 21:18.0.
Simone Plourde, who had a busy summer competing at the Canadian National Championships, put the pedal to the metal in the final 3k of the race to finish 29th overall (21:37.4). Like Plourde, freshman Erin Vringer also gave it her all in the final 3k and placed 34th. The two were critical in Utah winning the team title with Plourde and Vringer climbing 25 and 28 spots, respectively, in the final 3k of the race.
Utah will now get a few weeks to rest before another big meet on Friday, Oct. 14, at the Nuttycombe Invitational.
ROY GRIAK INVITATIONAL
St. Paul, MN • Les Bolstad Golf Course
Friday, Sept. 23, 2022
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