Gearing up for the UAA Outdoor Championships April 22 to 23, Emory’s men’s and women’s track and field traveled to Sewanee University (Tenn.) to compete at the Mountain Laurel Invitational this past Friday. Out of the eight competing schools, the women took second place while the men fell short and landed in sixth place.

The Mountain Laurel Invitational featured only select athletes from the Emory team, offering an additional opportunity to prepare prior to next week’s UAA Outdoor Championships.

“There weren’t a lot of people who came out for this meet but everyone who did, including myself, was really glad about the extra practice before UAAs,” freshman Nathan Harper said.

Missing first place by a mere 10.5 points, the women were bested by Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) and scored 194.5 team points. The meet featured 14 events and the women claimed first place in eight.

In the field events, freshmen Kaitlyn Iwanowicz and Isabel Saridakis took first in the long jump and pole vault, respectively. Saridakis set a mark of 3.20m in the pole vault and Iwanowicz took first with a jump of 4.93m. The team’s freshmen continued to shine with Gabrielle Davis winning the 100m hurdles by more than a one second margin, with a time of 15.91. First place in the steeplechase went to sophomore Kaylee Slade with a time of 11:57.64. Sophomore Radhika Shah raced a 2:20.84 in the 800m to win the event. Adding to the team’s barrage of top finishes, junior Dyess Verfurth finished with a time of 11:09.62 in the 3000m.

Performing better than ever this season, sophomore Dani Bland swept both her sprinting events. She clocked in with times of 12.18 and 24.66 in the 100m and 200m dash, respectively.

The men’s side struggled more than usual, posting 45 points and only one event win. The lone first-place finish went to junior Robert Wilhelm III in the 800m, who clinched the win by only 0.92 seconds with a time of 1:57.37. Later that day, senior Michael McBane pulled off a third-place showing in the 1500m with 4:00.43. Two other Eagles competed in the same event and scored team points. Senior Grant Murphy finished fourth, racing a time of 4:04.78, while freshman Stephen Fedec followed in fifth with a time of 4:07.69.

Also notable was freshman Nathan Harper who scored third place in both the pole vault and 110m hurdles. Harper cleared the bar at 3.66m in the pole vault and finished the 110m hurdles with a time of 18.66.

“I was very pleased with my pole vaulting,” Harper said. “But honestly for us, how we do relative to other teams at normal meets doesn’t really matter. We really try to just get those personal bests and use the meets as good practice so we perform well where it counts like at UAAs.”

The UAA Outdoor Championships on April 22 to 23 at the University of Chicago (Ill.) will give some of the Eagles a chance to qualify for NCAA Division III Championships May 25-27.

“The support the team gives each other really makes a huge difference at UAAs because the whole team is there,” Harper said. “That is really where it turns from an individual sport to more of a team sport. Your team being there and cheering you on puts on a lot of pressure to do well. Even if some athletes don’t score they will probably PR just because [of] all the energy present at the meet.”