The Emory University men's and women's cross country teams open their 2017 seasons on Friday (Sept. 1) when they compete in the Georgia DIII Invitational. Head coach John Curtin and his squads begin the competition with the women's 6k at 7:15 pm, followed by the men's 8k at 8:00 pm. Serving as the host of the Invitational will be Berry College.
The women's team heads into 2017 ranked No. 1 in the South/Southeast Region and 22nd nationally. The Eagles have a solid group of returnees back from last year's squad that made the program's 12th straight appearance in the NCAA D-III Championships. Senior Gabrielle Stravach headlines the vets after placing as the squad's top runner in all seven of her competitions. She raced to Second Team All-UAA honors a year ago and was an all-region performer. Senior Tru Powell provided consistency and productivity in 2016, finishing among the Eagles' top five in all seven of her races. Junior Maeve Andrews and sophomore Meredith Hughes distinguished themselves last year with all-region honors and are eyeing big seasons. Senior Megan Waples is another battle-tested runner who landed all-region kudos in 2016.
The men's side claims a No. 21 preseason national ranking and is slotted in the No. 2 position in the South/Southeast Region. While the Eagles lost a number of seniors from the 2016 unit that captured the school's fourth straight berth to the national championships, the cupboard in hardly bare as a the team features a number of talented runners back for another year of action. Junior Bennett Shaw, an all-region performer, is an Eagle to keep an eye on after scoring in six of his seven competitions last season. Senior Shane Sullivan, buoyed by a fine showing during the outdoor track season, could be in store for a big year after scoring for the team in all four of his outings. Sophomore Luis Torres has a year of experience under his belt after ranking among the team's top-five finishers in four of six events, as does classmate Marty Pimentel, who gained valuable experience as a freshman.