The Emory women’s cross country team, ranked No. 27 in the nation among Division III squads, ran their way to a top five finish at the AAE Invitational in Winneconne, Wisconsin, this past Saturday. The Eagles finished fifth out of 46 teams with 265 points.
The Emory men’s cross country team also notched an upper-half finish, landing in 16th place out of 45 teams with 448 points. It was a promising performance for both teams, which arguably faced the toughest competition of their season yet.
“We hadn’t been in a field like this in years,” Head Coach John Curtin said. “This is the best meet in the country that’s not a national championship.”
It was a record-setting day for the women, who had all of their runners earn personal best 6K times. Senior Elise Viox was the top runner for the Eagles, finishing 34th among the 414 runners on the field with a time of 22:17.Senior Aileen Rivell wasn’t far behind, finishing 39th at 22:24, while sophomore Gabrielle Stravach was the third Eagle to finish, coming in at 50th overall with a time of 22:32.
According to Curtin, the team got a great confidence boost from their performance against some of the toughest teams they will face all season, including UAA rivals: No. 5-ranked Washington University in St. Louis and No. 13-ranked University of Chicago.
“I think it proved to the girls that, ‘Hey, maybe we are pretty good,’ ” he said. “ ’Maybe we’re a little better than we thought were.’ ”
The meet showcased the depth of the women’s squad, as all seven Emory runners finished in the top 80 and recorded a time under 23 minutes.
“There might be one or two other schools that can say they have nine girls under 23 minutes,” Curtin said.
The men’s team has struggled with injuries this season, but still put together a respectable showing. Senior Lukas Mees finished 44th out of 419 runners with an 8K time of 25:21, while junior Michael Sisario was the second Eagle to cross the finish line, chalking in at 25:32.
“On the guys’ side, it was kind of a tough day,” Curtin said, referencing junior and usual No. 2 runner Grant Murphy, who suffered a foot injury during the race and did not finish.
The Eagles were also missing sophomore Shane Sullivan, who’s been sidelined with an Achilles injury.
Sisario stepped up in Murphy’s absence, while sophomore Max Brown performed admirably as well, finishing 81st with a time of 25:45.
“We need to get [Murphy] healthy again,” Curtin said. “Michael’s running great right now. If we can get through those injuries, we’ve got a really good team.”
Both cross-country teams will be in action again on Saturday, Oct. 31, at the UAA Championships in Boston.