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RECAP: So you're Sayen there's a chance

RECAP: So you're Sayen there's a chance

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Junior Clayton Sayen (Houghton, Michigan) led Michigan Tech cross country with a first-place individual finish at the Roy Griak Invitational Friday afternoon at Les Bolstad Golf Course. Sayen turned in a winning time of 25:17.7 in the Joe Rider Men's Maroon 8K race, edging Wayne State's Ransom Allen (25:22.5) and Zac Truman (25:41.3) for the top spot on the podium. The Husky men took fourth place as a team in a field of 27 schools at 138 points. Tech women's cross country placed ninth with 237 points in the Suzy Wilson Women's Maroon 6K against 26 opponents.

It was the first victory of the season for Sayen, who trimmed his time by 40 seconds since the Huskies ran the same event in fall of 2019. Sayen took 12th place two seasons ago. A total of 374 men representing NCAA Division II and III teams appeared in this year's race. Sayen continued his strong start after posting a third-place finish to open the season at the Wayne State Warrior Challenge with an 8K time of 25:05.1 on September 9. 

"Clayton ran a smart race," said head coach Kristina Owen. "He got himself into position early and then really dropped the hammer on the second half. This is a huge invitational with a long history, and winning the men's DII race is a huge feather in Clayton's cap."

Junior Michelle Bollini (Charlevoix, Michigan) was the top women's finisher in 26th place with a time of 23:20.4. Junior Sam Kurkowski came in 35th (23:41.3), followed by sophomore Anabel Needham (48th - 23:53.2), and freshman Ingrid Halverson (62nd - 24:03.2). UMary finished first as a team, followed by Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth, and Wayne State.

"Our women executed the race plan really well, starting conservatively and picking up places on the rolling terrain on the back side of the course," Owen said. "Michelle (Bollini) made up 17 positions between the halfway point and the finish. Anabel (Needham) had a great race too, finishing in 48th as our third lady. She is one of our dual sport athletes with the Nordic Ski program, and it's so great to see her excel as a top member of both teams."

After Sayen's top time, freshman Samuel Lange (Washington, Illinois) turned in a 13th place result with a time of 26:00.3. Freshman Drew Kolodge (40th - 26:29.3), senior Luke Moore (41st - 26:31.5), and junior Ben Passolt (47th - 26:40.5) rounded out the top five men. Wayne State nabbed the team victory, followed by Western Washington, Indiana Weslyan, and Michigan Tech.

"Sam (Lange) continued to impress as a second-year freshman," said Owen. "He was the third place freshman in the race, which is a great sign for the future success of the program. Drew (Kolodge), another second-year freshman, made his collegiate debut in the 8K and showed his mettle by placing as our third man. Luke (Moore) took a tumble early in the race but recovered well make it up to 41st overall."

Conditions were cool and breezy.

Up next for both teams is the Blugold Invite, hosted by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on October 1 at Whitetail Golf Course.