This past weekend, the Eagles ran in the NCAA Division III National Championship Cross Country Meet. The meet was held in Terre Haute, Ind. on a course that the Eagles have run earlier in the season. The Eagles were represented by seven of the Emory women and freshman Lukas Mees of the men’s team. Thirty-two teams and 56 individual qualifiers competed in each championship race.
The women’s team established themselves as the 31st-ranked team in Division III. The team’s seven representatives included senior captain Calleson Edwards, sophomores Hannah Moriarty, Marissa Gogniat, Hannah Smith, Stephanie Crane and Tamara Surtees, and freshman Aileen Rivell. This NCAA Championship Meet was the first national appearance for four out of the seven women competing.
Moriarty led the Eagles through the 6k course with a time of 23 minutes and 17 seconds. Gogniat trailed three seconds behind Moriarty for a finish of 23:20. The Eagles’ remaining scorers included Surtees, Rivell and Smith.
“The season didn’t end up quite like I would have wanted it to at Nationals,” Edwards said. “But it gave the younger kids experience.”
As a graduating senior, Edwards feels that the qualifying for NCAAs was bittersweet.
“I’m glad we had one more shot to race after Regionals. I just wish I’d ended on a better one,” Edwards said.
Head Coach John Curtin said that he feels that a season of inconsistent performances prevented the team from reaching their full potential.
“This season has been such a roller coaster ride. We never seemed to be able to get all of our kids running their best at any given time,” Curtin said. “Injuries really set us back from the start, but this group hung together and made a run to Nationals and they should be proud of that.”
In his first national appearance, freshman standout Lukas Mees finished 206th in a field of 280 runners.
“It wasn’t the result I was looking for, but the experience is going to prove extremely valuable throughout the next three years,” Mees said.
While Mees was slightly disappointed by his season’s end, there will be many more opportunities for him to excel in future cross country seasons, as well as indoor and outdoor track.
Associate Coach Carl Leivers is already looking ahead to identify areas where the teams can improve as they collectively raise their expectations.
“This was the last cross country meet, but the start of the work we need to do to close the gap between where we are and where we need to be,” Leivers said. “The potential is there, but it’s far from a given.”
With the season’s end, the men’s and women’s cross country teams will enjoy a short time off from training before preparing for the upcoming indoor track and field season. The indoor season is set to begin on Dec. 1 at the Panther Indoor Icebreaker in Birmingham, Ala.
— By Megan Hunter