Cross Country

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.

The Emory men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished No. 3 out of eight teams Oct. 28 at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships at Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park, N.J. Saturday marked the first time since 2009 that Emory’s men had finished within the top five at the UAA Championships.

Falling behind No. 1 Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) (Mo.) and No. 2 University of Chicago (UChicago), the women’s team’s top five runners put up a total 6K time of 2:03.18.

Senior captain Gabrielle Stravach continued her incredible season, recording an outstanding No. 2 overall finish. With her 23:14 time, Stravach fell just behind UChicago junior Khia Kurtenbach, who crossed the finish line seven seconds ahead of Stravach.

With prior appearances at the UAA Championships, Stravach noted that her prior experience was valuable not only Saturday but throughout the season.

“The fact that this was my fourth time racing at cross country [UAA Championships] gave me a lot of experience that has taught me a lot,” Stravach said. “Experience from being part of many races and increasing my mileage has prepared to have the season that I’ve been having so far.”

Head Coach John Curtin emphasized the importance of Stravach’s No. 2 finish, noting her performance key for the team’s top three finish.

“[Stravach] ran lights out, and without that we would have been in big trouble,” Curtin said. “It helps to have a national caliber runner like her. It’s fair to say that she should be considered one of the top dozen runners in the country.”

Juniors Kayla O’Shea and Kaylee Slade and freshmen Susie Martin and Abby Durfee were also among Emory’s top five finishers, all of whom finished in the top 30 runners in a field of 76 runners.

Stravach said that the long length and uneven footing of the course made for poor race conditions.

“Although the course wasn’t ideal, it was really good for us to have a competing mentality rather than following a specific race plan,” Stravach said.

On the men’s side, Emory slated in at No. 3 with a total 8K time of 2:14:21, about three minutes slower than No. 1 WashU’s pace. Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) finished No. 2.

Headlining the men’s performance, senior Shane Sullivan crossed the finish line No. 3 overall with a time of 26:09, a fraction of a second behind the No. 2 finisher. Sullivan turned in his best performance of the season and his second consecutive competition as Emory’s top runner.

Curtin praised the strong performances of the team’s more experienced runners.

“Our veterans came through in a big way, especially [Sullivan], who ran a brilliant race,” Curtin said. “He was a little bit beat up early in the season, but we knew he’d be ready when it was time for the championship season, and he showed up in a big way.”

Senior Max Brown, junior Bennett Shaw, sophomore Luis Torres and freshman Matt Dillon rounded out Emory’s top five athletes. Each had a top 35 finish out of a field of 77 runners.

According to Sullivan, Saturday’s performance was a good indicator that the team is poised for a successful championship season.

“Our team is on the come up and is ready for a solid end to the season,” Sullivan said. “More focus on the little things have allowed us to perform well.”

Curtin noted that the men’s Saturday finish was their best showing at the UAA Championships in several years.

“The men had been stuck in fifth place at UAA [Championships] for the past four years,” Curtin said. “[Saturday] was the guy’s best finish at UAA [Championships] since their No. 2 finish in 2009.”

The cross country teams will compete again Nov. 11 when they travel to Newport News, Va., to participate in the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional Championship.

Emory’s men’s and women’s cross country teams finished No. 17 and No. 11, respectively, out of a field of more than 30 schools in the Cowbell Classic at Principia College (Ill.) Oct. 14.

Saturday’s race was Emory’s “pre-Nationals” event, the teams’ last competition before the University Athletic Association (UAA) and NCAA Division South/Southeast Regional Championships.

In the women’s race, Johns Hopkins University (Md.) finished No. 1 with an average 6K time of 22:01. Emory finished more than a minute after Hopkins with an average time of 23:19.

Putting together a spectacular performance, senior captain Gabrielle Stravach led Emory with a No. 5 overall finish out of 332 runners. Emory’s second fastest runner for the women’s team was freshman Carrie McIntyre with a 6K time of 21:41.

Head Coach John Curtin raved about Stravach’s performance, praising her ability to post a great time despite the difficult conditions, particularly, the temperature. It was above 90 degrees, causing dozens of competitors to suffer from heat exhaustion, according to Curtin.

“Stravach established herself as a true national competitor,” Curtin said. “She ran brilliantly, despite it being a particularly difficult course, and the conditions were awful.”

Junior Kayla O’Shea, freshman Abby Durfee and junior Kaylee Slade rounded out Emory’s top five. Each runner finished within the top 100.

Highlighting the success of her teammates, Stravach expressed her excitement about the performance of some of the newer members of the team.

“It was a really big weekend for our rookies, who haven’t been able to travel, and a lot of them rose to occasion,” Stravach said. “How a lot of the girls stepped up to the plate this weekend is a really good sign for the rest of the season.”

Noting a potential setback to Emory’s overall score, Curtin mentioned that junior Maeve Andrews struggled with heat exhaustion.

“Andrews, who is normally our No. 2 runner, went down with heat exhaustion during the race and wasn’t able to finish,” Curtin said. “That held us back a little bit as a team.”

Stravach said that the team hadn’t anticipated the heat, making the race especially difficult for runners who weren’t prepared for the tough conditions.

Falling toward the middle of the pack, Emory’s men finished with an average 8K time of 26:42, 1.5 minutes off the No. 1 pace set by North Central College (Ill.).

Unlike the women, the men did not have an individual runner finish within the top 50. Senior Shane Sullivan crossed the finish line with Emory’s No. 1 time of 26:09. Sullivan placed No. 60 overall out of a field of 354 runners.

The team’s strategy was to conquer the hills.

“The course was composed of rolling hills with a few flat sections connecting those, creating big uphills and downhills,” Sullivan said. “As a result, our coach wanted us to take a more conservative approach and not make any big pushes throughout the race.”

Sophomores Luis Torres and Marty Pimentel, junior Bennett Shaw and freshman Matt Dillon joined Sullivan as Emory’s top five runners, each finishing within the top half of all runners.

Rather than relying on one individual to run a low time, the men will have to improve in the fourth or fifth spots to post a lower average time.

“Our guys are going to have to improve their time by sticking together and running in a good, solid pack,” Curtin said. “They will have to be strong in the fourth and fifth spots to make up for some points there, since they don’t have a clear lead runner.”

The NCAA Division III Championships will be held on Saturday’s course. Sullivan said that running the course prior to the November championships helped the runners prepare to tackle the course later this year.

Emory will race its top runners Oct. 28 in the UAA Championships at Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park, N.J.

Both the Emory men’s and women’s cross country teams took home first place for the White Division, composed of NCAA Division II and III and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools, during the Jacksonville State University (Ala.) Foothills Invitational Sept. 30. Saturday’s race was the Eagles’ final competition before the top 10 runners on each team are selected to participate in Pre-Nationals Oct. 14.

Emory scorched the opposition, topping a field of more than 20 teams. The women’s team finished No. 1 with an average 5K time of 18:47. That time was more than a minute faster than No. 2-finisher Blue Mountain College (Miss.).

For the third time in three races this season, senior captain Gabrielle Stravach placed as Emory’s top runner. She finished No. 1 overall, besting 250 other runners, including those representing Division I schools such as the Georgia Institute of Technology and Lipscomb University (Tenn.). Stravach nearly posted her first sub-18 minute time, finishing her 5K in 18 minutes and three seconds.

Stravach said that she had mixed emotions in regard to her finish.

“I broke my personal record, so I was really excited,” Stravach said. “However, I was really hoping to break that 18-minute mark.”

Reflecting on Stravach’s time, Head Coach John Curtin said that Stravach had a cramp, which likely prevented her from finishing in under 18 minutes.

“I felt bad for [Stravach] because she came so close to breaking 18 minutes,” Curtin said. “She got a bit of a cramp with about 1,200 meters to go and it just took the edge off her a little bit.”

Juniors Maeve Andrews and Kaylee Slade, freshman Abby Durfee and sophomore Meredith Hughes joined Stravach among Emory’s top five runners on the day. Each runner finished within the top 10 of all 181 White Division runners.

Stravach raved about her teammates’ performance.

“I was impressed by how a lot of the girls on our team rose to the occasion,” Stravach said. “We had a decent amount of 5K personal records, and we don’t usually get to race 5Ks, so that was a big deal for a lot of the girls.”

Curtin was impressed with the women’s team, noting that eight runners finished with personal best times.

“That was really encouraging especially on a day when the course wasn’t running very fast,” Curtain said.

Emory’s men’s team also had a strong day, finishing No. 1 with an average 8K time of 26:28. Like the women, their time was more than a minute faster than the No. 2 team, Tennessee Wesleyan University.

For the second time this season, sophomore Marty Pimentel ran a team-best time. Pimentel finished the race with a time of 26:09.80. With top five finishes in all three of his races thus far, Pimentel has made a name for himself as one of Emory’s top runners.

Pimentel said that he was pleased with his fitness and feels set for more success moving forward.

“I am about as fit as I’d want to be for right now,” Pimentel said. “It was a pretty good evaluation of where I hope to be for Pre-Nationals in the upcoming weeks.”

Spurring Pimentel’s success was the Foothills course, which played to many of his strengths as a runner.

“This course really favored [Pimentel] because he’s a big, tall kid with long strides,” Curtin said. “On flat courses like this he’s probably going to be our top guy.”

Along with Pimentel, sophomore Luis Torres, junior Bennett Shaw, senior Shane Sullivan and sophomore Sam Branson rounded out Emory’s top five runners. All five of the athletes were among the top 10 White Division runners in the meet.

Looking to upcoming meets, Pimental emphasized the importance of maintaining strong tactics to ensure the team’s future success.

“It’s important to control the pace,” Pimentel said. “This is key because this week we showed how well we can do when we have control of the race.”

Curtin said that the team was most interested with how they were doing rather than focusing on the competition.

“We were most concerned with how our team was running and performing at this time,” Curtin said. “It is always fun to win, but we wanted to test ourselves on what has historically been a pretty fast course.”

The Eagles will select the top 10 runners from each team to compete in Pre-Nationals Oct. 14. Both the men’s and women’s teams currently have more than 30 runners each. The runners not selected to run at Pre-Nationals will run in the Berry Invitation at Berry College (Ga.) Oct. 14.

The Emory men’s and women’s cross country teams took first and third place, respectively, in the University of North Georgia (UNG) Invitational Sept. 16, located on UNG’s Gainesville campus. Nine schools competed in the men’s race and 15 in the women’s.

Both the men’s and women’s teams came into Saturday’s meet nationally ranked; the men’s team at No. 22 and the women’s team at No. 21 in the NCAA Division III.

Despite resting some of their top finishers from the previous competitions, such as sophomore Martin Pimentel and junior Bennett Shaw, the men’s squad still fielded a talented group of runners to take home Saturday’s top prize. Senior Philip Edwards led the way for the men, placing second out of 69 runners with an 8K time of 27:19.

Head Coach John Curtin expressed his excitement in regards to seeing some different runners take on a major role.

“We got a chance to see some of our depth in a leadership position,” Curtin said. “We wanted to get some experience for some of the younger kids, and I think we were successful in doing that.”

Rounding out Emory’s top five runners on the day were seniors Max Brown and Gregory Litle, freshman Matthew Dillon and junior Ryan Fan. Each of those runners, in addition to Edwards, clocked in with a time under 28 minutes, a feat achieved by only four other runners in the entire field Saturday.

Brown noted that the team was poised to compete well and that many of the men had the opportunity to finish high up in the standings.

“Coming into Saturday many of us knew that we had a good chance of doing well in the meet,” Brown said. “We trusted that we were fit enough to get the result that we had wanted.”

Curtin said that he was pleased to see Edwards and Brown shine, especially after the injuries they suffered earlier in their collegiate careers.

“[Edwards and Brown] are two veterans that have battled injury issues over the years and as a result we really haven’t had them in crunch time,” Curtin said. “These two veterans were the ones who stood out on the guys’ side.”

The women’s team also rested some of their top runners from the prior competitions, including senior captain Gabrielle Stravach, who was Emory’s top finisher in the first two meets of the season. The absence of Stravach gave other runners a chance to shine.

Freshman Carrie McIntyre was the first competitor to cross the finish line for the Eagles. Her 5K time of 19:13 placed her No. 7 overall out of 136 runners.

McIntyre shared her excitement about her improvements after a shaky first couple of races.

“The race on Saturday definitely helped my confidence because my first couple of races didn’t go as well as I had wanted,” McIntyre said. “I got used to college and the transition, so I was able to perform to the best of my abilities this past weekend.”  

Curtin said that McIntyre had a terrific performance in Saturday’s meet despite her difficulty adjusting to the collegiate cross country circuit.

“[McIntyre] has had freshman growing pains early in the season,” Curtin said. “[Saturday] she put a full race together and the team was really happy for her.”

Freshmen Abby Durfee and Caroline Johnson, junior Kaylee Slade and senior Megan Waples joined McIntyre as Emory’s top five runners on the day. All five ended the race among the top 20 runners. Each contributed to a third place finish behind No. 1 UNG and the No. 2 Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta.

McIntyre indicated that not having top competitors like Stravach active on Saturday, put more responsibility on some of the younger runners.

“It was on the freshmen’s shoulders to lead the way on Saturday,” McIntyre said. “We had to find different people to go ahead and lead our team.”

Curtin emphasized that he and his coaching staff were trying to get a deeper look at some of their runners before they have to cut the team down for pre-national and University Athletic Association (UAA) competitions. Both teams have more than 30 runners, and the first cut will shorten the teams down to just ten runners a piece.

“We have to cut our team down to ten runners for future competitions,” Curtin said. “[The coaching staff] was trying to get a look at everybody and give some other runners the chance to shine.”

Brown saw his No. 3 finish overall as extra motivation in competitions moving forward.

“My finish Saturday gave me some confidence that my training is starting to pay off, but I still have a long way to go,” Brown said. “The competition from here is only going to continue to get harder, but hopefully we continue to finish as well as we did.”

Emory’s top runners on the men’s and women’s teams will return to the course Sept. 30 in the Jacksonville State University (Ala.) Foothills Invitational in Oxford, Ala.

The Emory men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished in fifth place after competing in their first major competition of the season, the Furman Classic, Sept. 9.

Emory traveled to Furman University in Greenville, S.C., where the Eagles battled more than 15 schools, including a pair of NCAA Division I opponents in Furman and Clemson University (S.C.). Furman placed first in both the men’s and women’s races.

Going into the event, Head Coach John Curtin was hopeful that the course’s layout would work to the benefit of his runners.  

“We like Furman because it’s on a golf course and has good footing for the most [part],” Curtin said. “The course is also fast because it is fairly flat.”

Curtin praised his team’s performance, noting that it exceeded his expectations.

“The team performed better than I had anticipated,” Curtin said. “That was the best we have run on [Furman’s course] in several years.”

Headlining the women’s performance in the classic, senior captain Gabrielle Stravach cracked the top ten, finishing No. 7 out of 163 competitors. Stravach was Emory’s top runner for the ninth time in her career and second time this year, leading the team with a 6K time of 21:34, the second best of her illustrious collegiate career.

Placing among Emory’s top five runners included junior Maeve Andrews, freshman Abby Durfee, junior Kaylee Slade and sophomore Meredith Hughes. Along with Stravach they averaged a time of 22:40, more than a minute off the pace of No. 1 Furman’s time of 20:54.

Stravach said that she was pleased to see her teammates perform so well together.

“Our girls ran really well together, we had a lot of girls try and run together as a pack,” Stravach said. “This was good because we have a really young team and don’t have a ton of freshmen who are used to running 6Ks.”

Curtin expressed how impressed he was with the top five’s times and Stravach’s top ten finish.

“Our top five all ran 23 minutes and six seconds or better,” Curtin said. “Stravach ran faster than we ever had anybody run on that course.”

For Stravach, the early successes fuel her goals.

“I definitely have some lofty goals for this season,” Stravach said. “I would really like to be all-American for cross country, which normally takes times around 21 minutes to do that.”

Placing No. 21 overall out of 175 runners, junior Bennett Shaw was Emory’s top male runner. Shaw finished with a career-best 8K time of 25:35, more than a minute faster than his first race of the season.

Joining Shaw in Emory’s top five runners, sophomore Marty Pimentel, senior Shane Sullivan, freshman Matthew Burke and sophomore Sam Branson all posted impressive times. Together they averaged an 8K time of 26:17, more than two minutes slower than Furman’s average time of 24:03.

Shaw said that he felt “pretty good” and “stuck to the game plan” during the race.

“I utilized the pace and strategy the coaches put out for us and it worked out pretty well,” Shaw said.

Saturday’s meet highlighted the team’s youth and depth, Shaw said.

“We have a lot more freshmen who are running well already,” Shaw said. “I think the fact that we had so many people run well is going to help the team’s confidence.”

The Emory cross country teams will race again in the University of North Georgia Invitational Sept. 16.

Emory’s cross country team started of the season with a commanding victory in the Watermelon Run at Berry College (Ga.) Sept. 1. The men’s and women’s teams were the top teams among five different schools.

The women’s team dominated, with their top five runners finishing within the top seven of 72 runners. Those women contributed to a No. 1 finish ahead of No. 2 Berry College, No. 3 Covenant College (Ga.), No. 4 Piedmont College (Ga.) and No. 5 Wesleyan College (Ga.).

Best among the women, senior Gabrielle Stravach finished No. 1 overall with a 6K time of 22:44, more than a minute faster than the No. 2 runner, her teammate junior Maeve Andrews. Following Stravach and Andrews in Emory’s top five, freshman Abby Durfee, sophomore Meredith Hughes and senior Hanna Saadegh-Vaziri all contributed to Emory’s first-place victory.

In the eighth first-place performance of her career, Stravach showed that she could easily pick up from where she left off last year, when she finished No. 1 in all seven of Emory’s races.

Emory’s women recorded an average time of 24:04 among their top five finishers. The women left the competition in the dust, with the next best team finishing more than a minute behind Emory’s average time for their top five runners.  

The men finished No. 1 above No. 2 Oglethorpe University (Ga.), No. 3 Covenant College, No. 4 Berry College and No. 5 Piedmont College. Emory’s top five male runners finished within the top 11 of the 79 men participating in the race.

Leading the pack, sophomore Marty Pimentel finished eight seconds before the next best runner, teammate junior Bennett Shaw, with a 26:57 8K time. For the first time in his collegiate career, Pimentel posted a first-place finish.

Head Coach John Curtin raved about Pimentel’s outstanding day on the course.

“Marty looked really strong,” Curtin said. “He and [Shaw] ran together for the first three and a half miles, and then [Pimentel] felt good and he went for it.”

For Pimental, the first-place finish was a solid start to the season.

“I was pretty much where I wanted to be,” Pimentel said. “I felt pretty fit going, and I performed the way that I had wanted to.”

With several of his teammates also showing potential for the season ahead, Pimentel said that he strives to remain among Emory’s top runners.

“I hope to be among the top of the team,” Pimentel said. “Our team is really good this year, so it’s going to be really competitive to see who’s up there in the top group.”

Also posting strong performances, Shaw, freshmen Jacob Hedgepeth and Egan Kattenberg and senior Shane Sullivan were all among Emory’s top five finishers. They ended with an average time of 27:34. Their average was 32 seconds better than No. 2 Oglethorpe’s time of 28:06.

Given their dominant performances, the Emory teams are keeping their results in perspective.

“There wasn’t a lot of competition,” Curtin said. “So we were kind of competing amongst ourselves more than anything.”

The head coach also established pace goals for all of his runners.

“About half of [our runners] performed at the level that we hoped for,” Curtin said. “Some went a little faster than we wanted and some didn’t do as well as hoped, but the majority of the kids hit their pace goals.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete again Sept. 9, at the Furman Classic in Greenville, S.C.

Last competing November 2016, Emory’s men’s and women’s cross country teams have worked diligently during the offseason to prepare to take flight their first meet of the 2017 season.

Both the men’s and women’s squads enjoyed successful seasons in the Southeast Region in 2016. The men finished third overall in the Southeast, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III National Championships, and the women won the regional title in the Southeast, qualifying for an automatic bid to Nationals.

Despite falling short of the top of the University Athletic Association (UAA) in 2016, Head Coach John Curtin emphasized that, while UAA competition is a focus, first priority lies with the Eagles’ regional competitors.

“Our main goal is to win regionals,” Curtin said. “If we can’t win regionals, we want to at least finish in a position where we could finish high enough to qualify for nationals.”

A new season is on the horizon, but there is still a hint of bitterness left over from last year’s final results: Curtain had hoped for better outcomes on a national level last year, especially on the women’s side.

“The women’s team was definitely a top-20 caliber team last year,” Curtin said. “However, our team fell off a bit in our fifth person, as the top five runners on your team count towards your score.”

This season, the team hopes to find some consistency and regularly field five successful runners rather than only relying on the team’s top runner.

With the season yet to begin, Curtin said that it’s too early for the coaching staff to predict if both teams will have the improved depth to outperform last year’s team.

“It is hard to be really sure of what we have right now,” Curtin said. “We have lost some terrific seniors so we will need new runners to step up.”

This year, the Eagles will field their “largest team ever,” according to Curtin. The men’s team has 31 members, including five seniors, and the women’s team has 29, with four seniors. The addition of 14 and 11 members to the men’s and women’s team, respectively, gives the Eagles several new runners to put into meets this year.

Senior Gabrielle Stravach, Emory’s top runner in all seven of her races in 2016, expressed her excitement about the larger team.

“We usually have our strongest teams when we have a lot of girls on it,” Stravach said. “Having a lot of girls creates a positive atmosphere, and we work better as team when there are more of us.”

Senior Shane Sullivan and junior Bennett Shaw return to the Eagles as two of the men’s team’s top runners. Sullivan was deemed Emory’s most improved runner in the 2016 season, recording a personal best 8K time of 25:38 at the Division III Championships. He was also No. 3 on the team at the UAA Championships and the Furman Classic.

Shaw, one of Emory’s top five runners in six of his seven races last year, posted a personal best 8K time of 25:50 at the UAA Championships and finished second among Emory runners at the Furman Classic.

On the women’s side, Stravach comes into the season as one of the squad’s top runners. Curtin praised Stravach as one of his best female competitors.

“[Stravach] is the lead dog,” Curtin said. “She’s talented, she works hard and everyone looks up to her and respects her.”

Last season, Stravach posted a career-best 6K time of 21:33, achieved second-team all-UAA honors and posted Emory records at Nationals and the UAA Championships.Stravach said that she attributes the success of her breakout year to preparation and diligence. She hopes that her success motivates her teammates.

“Our sport is the type of sport where you get out of it what you put into it,” Stravach said. “I hope this helps the other girls work harder and stay determined to get to where they want to be.”

Stravach and the rest of the women’s and men’s cross country teams will have the opportunity to demonstrate just how much work they’ve put into this offseason, with the teams’ first meet Friday, Sept. 1, in the Watermelon Run at Mount Berry (Ga.).

To compete in a do-or-die meet, the Emory cross country team traveled to Berry College (Ga.) Saturday for the South/Southeast Region Championships hosted on the Clara Bowl Course.

The women’s side advanced through an automatic birth after the No. 18 group took first place with 68 points, followed by runner-up Rhodes College (Tenn.) with 103 points and third-place Christopher Newport with 117 points.

Junior Gabrielle Stravach led the way for the Eagles, placing fourth out of 213 runners thanks to a 6K time of 22:25. Junior Megan Waples was the second Eagle on the board with a 23:09 performance for the 14th overall finish. Trailing Waples, senior Mia Eisenhandler finished with a time of 23:11 and junior Tru Powell ran a time of 23:15, taking 15th and 16th place, respectively.

“We have had a team running strategy, with the exception of Gabby [Stravach], who is a little better and stays ahead,” Curtin said. “Overall, I thought we did pretty well.”

The No. 26 men’s squad finished in third place with 103 points out of 29 teams, short of first-place Christopher Newport University (Va.) with 52 points and runner-up Washington and Lee University (Va.) with 58 points.

Senior Michael Sisario led the Eagles, running the 8K with a time of 25:34 to achieve fifth place out of 208 individual runners entered. Following Sisario, senior Lukas Mees attained 11th overall after clocking in at 25:51. Sophomore Bennett Shaw was the third Emory runner to finish with a time of 26:32 to fill the 27th overall spot. Shortly after, junior Shane Sullivan and senior Austin Hunt took 29th (26:37) and 31st (26:40) places , respectively.

The men were short of an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-III Championships, but received at-large bids Sunday.

“The goal is, as always, to get to the next weekend,” Head Coach John Curtin said. “And we were trying to defend our region titles.”

The playoff season resumes this Saturday after a short rest and preparation period.

“Most of the work is done,” Curtin said. “So it’s about getting rested up and getting heads on straight to race.”

This Saturday, Nov. 19, the Eagles will lay everything on the line in this year’s NCAA Division-III Championships. They will make their second trip of the year to Louisville, Ky., to run on the E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park course. The women will start at 11 a.m., and the men will begin competing at noon.