The Emory men’s and women’s cross country teams finished No. 3 and No. 2, respectively, in the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional Championships in Newport News, Va., Nov. 11. The field consisted of more than 30 teams.
The women’s team earned the second-place spot at Regionals for the 27th straight season, earning a trip to the NCAA DIII National Championships.
No stranger to spectacular finishes, senior captain Gabrielle Stravach clinched the No. 1 spot out of a total of 240 athletes and engraved her name in Emory cross country history with a school-record 6K time 20:59.7. In all six of her appearances this season, Stravach recorded a team-best finish.
“I was excited when I saw the course because it was relatively flat and much more manageable than the other courses we’ve been running,” Stravach said. “It was my goal coming into this season to break 21 [minutes] and was really happy I got it by three-tenths of a second.”
Head Coach John Curtin echoed Stravach’s comments about the course.
“They had the ability to pass and have confidence in their footing, so they were really ready to break out and run fast,” Curtin said.
Senior Tru Powell, freshman Abby Durfee and juniors Kayla O’Shea and Kaylee Slade all placed within Emory’s top five runners. Together they contributed to Emory’s average 6K time of 22:12. Trinity University (Texas) won the regional meet with an average time of 22:2 seconds.
“We had a lot of girls who ran personal bests,” Stravach said. “Overall, it was a really great day for us and was a great indication of what is to come this weekend at Nationals.”
Though the men’s team finished outside of the top two and missed out on an automatic bid, a Nov. 12 NCAA announcement delivered Emory an at-large bid to the National Championships.
For the third straight week, senior Shane Sullivan led the Eagles with a team-best finish. Sullivan clocked in with a personal-best 8K time of 24:37, good enough for No. 8 overall out of a field of 222 runners. Sullivan’s time ranked as the fourth-best 8K time in Emory history.
Sullivan lauded the team’s performance Saturday and said that all members of the team rose to the occasion to contribute to the team’s strong finish.
“Everyone ran lifetime personal records on Saturday,” Sullivan said. “We were able to make a case for ourselves to go to Nationals based off our strong performance this weekend.”
Joining Sullivan, junior Bennett Shaw, sophomores Luis Torres and Marty Pimentel and senior Max Brown rounded out Emory’s top five. They averaged a time of 25:05, falling behind No. 1 Christopher Newport University (Va.) and No. 2 Rhodes College (Tenn.).
Sullivan said that he is excited to race at the Nationals course, especially since individuals have been improving their performances each week.
“The Nationals course favors us since we have run it once already for Pre-Nationals,” Sullivan said. “Everyone is in a great spot fitness-wise.”
Six members of both the men’s and women’s teams garnered all-region honors for finishing within the top 35 runners in their respective competitions. The honorees were the top five runners on both teams along with sophomore Sam Branson and freshman Carrie McIntyre.
Curtin said that he was impressed with his team’s ability to consistently put up solid performances after a grueling season.
“Sometimes at the end of the season the [team] starts to falter a little bit,” Curtin said. “The group will at times tend to get past their peak, but that is not the case with both the guys and girls.”
Emory will race one more time this season when the women’s and men’s travel to the National Championships in Elsah, Ill., Nov. 18.