The Emory men’s and women’s track teams competed at the Emory CrossPlex Showdown on Jan. 14. (Courtesy of Liesl Scherrer)

The Emory University’s men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Indoor Track and Field Championships hosted by New York University (NYU) from Feb. 24 to 25. The men’s team finished in second place with 137 points, and the women’s team finished in third place with 112.5 points.

Men turn out 2nd place finish, 11 All-UAA performances

Coming into this year’s championships, the men’s team had lofty expectations. After a year filled with record-breaking performances, the athletes entered the meet looking to place high and capture individual titles.

Sophomore Henry Brandstadter said his personal goal was the same as it has been at every other meet.

“It’s always to try to get a podium spot, and I think that goes for anyone that goes into that meet,” Brandstadter said. “You want to get a top three finish.”

The message within the team was clear: compete hard and as a team. Brandstadter emphasized the magnitude of the opportunity ahead of him as he mentally prepared for the meet.

“The main mindset is just to get after it because it’s the last meet,” Brandstadter said. “Everyone is like, ‘It is the time to go all out — hold nothing back.’”

Senior Kenya Sei won the first title for the Eagles with a 18.49 meter mark in the weight throw, breaking his own program record for the third time this season. Sophomore Simon Stumbris also won a title in the triple jump with a distance of 14.18 meters.

Brandstadter brought home a title in the high jump with a mark of 1.98 meters. He also won the long jump with a 7.47 meter jump, breaking the program record. He said the record was an exciting achievement and that the titles were important milestones in his progression.

“For the high jump, I still feel like I have a lot more work to do on that,” Brandstadter said. “For long jump, I mean, I’m ecstatic about getting the program record, a personal record and breaking my own school record. So it really tells me I’m in a good place for nationals.”

The Eagles earned more points on the track, including an Emory one-two finish in both the 60-meter and one-mile races. Junior Sam Ryba won the 60-meter title with a time of 6.99 seconds, and junior Jackson Price came in second place with an All-UAA time of 7.04. Senior Spencer Watry delivered the mile title for the Eagles with an impressive time of 4:11.70, and junior Marcus Cheema finished in second place with a time of 4:12.33.

Watry, who competed in his last UAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, said he went into the race motivated to take home the gold.

“The goal was definitely to try to win,” Watry said. “I went in as the first seed for the mile, so that was definitely something I had my mind on.”

Watry said earning a podium finish alongside his teammate meant a lot to him.

“At the end of the mile, turning around and seeing my training partner, Marcus Cheema, right behind me getting second,” Watry said. “It’s probably a core memory I won’t forget.”

Brandstadter added to his stellar performance on the field with an All-UAA second place finish in the 200-meter dash.

Freshman Graham Greene finished his incredible rookie indoor season with All-UAA honors and a first place finish in the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.36 seconds. Greene also ran the 4×400-meter relay with senior Dawit Dean, sophomore Bryce Wurster and freshman Theodore Drye. The team’s winning time of 3:17.46 was a new UAA indoor record.

Watry said he was very pleased with the team’s overall performance and result at this year’s championships.

“A lot of my teammates and friends did their best, and a lot of people set some school records,” Watry said. “Getting second for the guys’ team was super exciting because since I’ve been in school, that’s the highest I’ve placed at indoor conferences.”

Women earn 9 All-UAA finishes, place 3rd

Ranked as the No. 1 team in the region and the No. 10 team in the nation, the women’s team was looking to place high, and many athletes succeeded in winning titles.

Graduate student and heptathlete Nikki Boon said the team had a confident outlook going into the weekend.

“A lot of us knew that we could potentially do really, really well and surprise some people and definitely get some medals,” Boon said. “I think everybody was really determined and ready to fight for it.”

Boon started off the day for the Eagles by winning the title in the long jump with a distance of 5.86 meters, breaking the program record. On the track, graduate student Brigid Hanley, senior Lily Taylor and freshmen Hannah Riley and Annabelle Tanner finished the first day for Emory by breaking the program record in the distance medley relay with a time of 11:41.71, placing second in the event. Taylor said the exciting moment was a result of the group giving maximum effort on the track.

“We were just trying to give it our all and score as many points as we could for the team,” Taylor said. “And with that, a great time came with it, so that was really exciting. I didn’t even realize until afterwards, when it was over, that the time we were running was going to be another school record.”

On the second day on the track, senior Libby Ranocha started off strong by breaking the program record in the 800-meter race with a time of 2:11.18, finishing third in the event and receiving an All-UAA honor. Ranocha said her and her teammates’ persistence throughout the season led to her success.

“All of us working together has led to people breaking so many records this season,” Ranocha said. “So to me, it’s just a factor of working with my team and putting in the effort on and off the track.”

Boon and Ranocha took the track again later in the day along with senior Audrey Johnson and Riley in the 4×400-meter relay, finishing second with a time of 3:51.58. Boon stayed busy during the second day, throwing a distance of 12.86 meter in the shot put and placing third in the event. She earned her second All-UAA nod of the day, rounding out an impressive individual all-around performance.

Ranocha spoke glowingly about the team’s performance, citing great team chemistry and support throughout the meet.

“I felt like going into the first day, on the guys’ side and the girls’ side, everyone had a really positive energy, and everyone was cheering for each other,” Ranocha said. “Everyone kept having [personal records] and amazing performances, so all that energy was just feeding into every event that was after someone else’s [personal record]. Using all our energy, I feel like our team just had really positive vibes overall.”

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