MATTHEW VANTRYON | STAFF REPORTER
The Butler women’s cross country team made a strong case for national contention Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational, placing third overall with a score of 94.
Arizona and Michigan State placed first and second, respectively. This was the first opportunity of the season for the team to showcase its first squad.
Butler had two competitors in the top 10 overall.
Junior Mara Olson led the team with a fourth-place finish and a time of 20:58. This was Olson’s first cross country race in her home state of Minnesota, and Butler coach Matt Roe said he thought that she stepped up to the challenge.
“It was a bit of a homecoming for her,” Roe said. “I think she was really excited about this meet. She did an outstanding job and beat a lot of All-Americans in the process. Certainly her performance is one that stood out for us.”
Senior All-American Katie Clark placed seventh overall with a 21:03 finish.
The women’s varsity squad will rest until the NCAA Pre-National meet Oct. 19.
The men’s team will face its first major test of the season this week at the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday, Oct. 4.
“This is the first large meet that the guys will be in, and it’s an important one,” Roe said. “We’re excited to see where they’re at against the top national level programs.”
The team has competed in South Bend before and knows it will be a challenge.
“It’s the same preparation as it was for the A-10,” senior Thomas Anderson said. “We just know we have to up our game, and we have to be better. We can only do as much as we can. We have to be ready, and there can’t be any excuses when it comes to the preparation.”
The team finished 16th at the invitational last year, and expects to do better this time around.
Despite high expectations, the Bulldogs are willing to take even small victories as a positive.
“This race is a huge opportunity to make a name for ourselves,” junior Thomas Curr said. “Any team that we beat will be a positive. If we can earn even one point toward nationals, it will be a success.”
Curr said Roe has instilled an attitude of consistently getting better while also acknowledging the team’s ability.
“Coach Roe has gently reminded us that we are not good enough,” Curr said.
While this may seem like a negative, Curr said it’s a motivating factor.
“We enjoy being the underdogs,” Curr said.
Sophomore Erik Peterson said Roe has trained the team for this race intentionally, focusing on long intervals earlier in the season and now having the team run shorter intervals in preparation for the upcoming meet.
Peterson also said that since the meet is held at a golf course, it will run very fast.
“We need to have everyone run their best on Friday,” Peterson said. “We hope to have three guys in 25th [place] or below.”
Peterson finished with a 24:38 time in last year’s invitational as a freshman.
This is a chance for Butler to put itself on the map, and the Bulldogs aren’t counting themselves out.
“If the team can deliver and run well, then we’re going to beat some teams and get some points,” Anderson said. “It’s always good to start off the season on a positive note. Momentum is key as we get closer to the national meets later in the season.”