The Eagles had multiple top 20 performances against a field dominated by DI teams in their third to last meet before the UAA Championships. Although overall team scores were not calculated at the VertKlasse Meeting at High Point University (N.C.) and inclement weather paused the meet March 31, the Eagles built their confidence as they faced off against some of the toughest competition they have faced thus far.
“No one ran super fast times [because of the weather] but we did have our 10k runner, [senior] Sophie Cemaj, [earn] a really big PR on Friday night,” senior team captain Mia Eisenhandler said.
Cemaj placed first in the 1000m with a time of 38:26.73, the fifth best time in the history of the VertKlasse Meeting. Junior Gabrielle Stravach finished sixth overall in the 1500m with a time of 4:36.46, just 0.04 seconds off of her personal record, which is also Emory’s current school record. Stravach also placed No. 13 in the 800m with a time of 2:18.77. In another impressive performance, sophomore Bennett Shaw ran the 3000m steeplechase in 9:38.77, finishing third overall.
“[The steeplechase this weekend] was definitely a good performance for [Shaw],” senior Kyle Veator said. “We had some pretty bad weather too at this meet, so if you get a time like that it’s definitely notable.”
Freshman Nyla Lindo was named UAA Track athlete of the week due to her triple jump performance. Her 11.20m triple jump earned her eleventh place in the meet and placed her ninth in the country among DIII athletes and first in the UAA.
Additionally, senior Michael McBane placed seventeenth in 1500m with a time of 4:03.60; senior Casey Rhode placed 17th in the 10000m with a time of 35:30.69; freshman Luis Torres placed twentieth in the 5000m with a time of 15:47.08; senior Mia Eisenhandler placed sixth in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 11:26.76 and sophomore Jordan Small placed tenth in the high jump with a height of 1.43m.
With a wide variety of team talent, some athletes attempted to qualify for nationals at this meet while others aimed to earn a spot in UAA Championship.
Freshman Jackson Holt explained that coaches select the conference squad based on how team members rank in relation to their competitors in the UAAs.
“We only took a small group [to the VertKlasse Meeting], so it will definitely be more exciting when we get to UAAs with all our top performers there,” Eisenhandler said.
From now until the UAA Championship, the team is ramping up practice and honing in on the next two meets.
“We’re doing a little bit less volume I would say but definitely increasing the intensity, just trying to make practice feel like meets,” Holt said. “We’re definitely putting a lot of focus on these next couple meets because for some [these meets are their] last chance … to get really good marks going into conference and nationals.”
According to Eisenhandler, only a small portion of the team went to the VertKlasse Meeting because either some members need a break or there wouldn’t be great competition in that member’s particular event.
However, Holt said that the meet proved valuable due to the high volume of DI teams.
“We don’t get to compete against that good of schools all the time,” Holt said. “We got some pretty good experience.”
The Eagles’ path to the UAA Championships continues April 7 to 8 as some members will compete at the Berry Field Day Invitational (Ga.) and other members at the Tiger Classic (Ala.).