Emery is Most Outstanding, HPU Men’s Track Third at Big South Championship

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Junior Evan Emery won both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and was named Big South Most Outstanding Track Performer, leading the the High Point University men’s track & field team to a third-place finish at the Big South Championship on Saturday in Lynchburg, Va. Junior Tristan Faure and senior Dakota Peachee won events on Friday, the four wins marking an all-time high for HPU.

“We were very pleased with our performances and Evan’s honor was well deserved,” said HPU head coach Mike Esposito. “We thought we had a good chance to get on the podium (top three) in 10 events and we got on nine times. Tristan’s decathlon win was huge and Dakota had a great meet. We’re going in the right direction, returning almost everyone except Dakota for next year.”

The most individual titles HPU had previously won in one Big South track meet was three on two occasions, most recently at the 2003 indoor championship. HPU’s 110 points were the second-most the Panthers ever scored at a Big South Championship behind the team’s 131 in 2003. The Panthers’ third-place finish matched the team’s highest finish at a Big South Outdoor Championship. High Point also took third in 2001, 2003 and 2012.

Liberty dominated the meet with 213 points followed by Coastal Carolina (131) and High Point (110). Charleston Southern finished fourth with 82 points followed by VMI (73), Campbell (65) and Radford (56). Gardner-Webb finished eighth with 44 points followed by Winthrop (24) and UNC Asheville (20).

Emery won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.47 into a -1.3 headwind and took the 200-meter dash in 20.84 with a legal wind of 0.5. He was the top seed in both events heading into the meet. Emery’s Most Outstanding Track Performer honor was the first ever for HPU in men’s track & field.

On Friday, Faure won the decathlon with an HPU-record score of 7,002, crushing his previous record of 6,633 points from last year’s Big South Championship. It was the first time HPU ever won that event.

Peachee won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a meet-record 8:51.00 late Friday night and came back to place third in the 1,500-meter in 3:58.46 on Saturday. Peachee pulled away in the last 600 meters in the steeplechase. In the 1,500-meter, the pace was slow and Peachee closed strong, finishing just behind VMI’s Andrey Dmitriev (3:58.22).

Freshman Dennis Crawford came through with a runner-up finish in the 110-meter hurdles and a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles to score 13 points on Saturday. His time of 14.28 in the 110 hurdles was wind-aided, but his 53.78 in the 400-meter hurdles was a huge career best. Senior Ryan Venable placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.60.

Freshman Benji Szalai was runner-up in the steeplechase behind Peachee, finishing in a season-best 8:55.16. Szalai came back to place fourth in the 5,000-meter in 14:31.91 on Saturday, his finishing kick coming up just short of Liberty’s Jeremie Bourget (14:31.29). Freshman Eddie Whitlock used a great finishing kick to finish third in the 800-meter on Saturday. He was ninth going into the last lap and passed six runners, finishing in a career-best 1:52.46.

Also in the distance events, sophomore Chris Colo took fifth in the steeplechase (9:24.78) and junior Patrick Crawford placed sixth in the 5,000-meter (14:44.62). Sophomore Jeff LaCoste placed eighth in both the 1,500-meter (4:03.43) and 5,000-meter (14:46.09). Freshmen Austin Miller and Harris Coley placed seventh and eighth in the pole vault, respectively. Miller cleared 4.50 meters (14-9) and Coley cleared a career-best 4.35 meters (14-3.25).

On Thursday, sophomore Christian Spaulding was runner-up in the javelin. He had a best throw of 61.99 meters (203-4). Freshmen Paddy Grandinali and Cody Seymour placed fifth and sixth in the 10,000-meter, respectively.

Several Panthers will continue their outdoor season with eyes on the NCAA Championship Preliminary in late May. Next on the schedule is the Duke Twilight Meet on May 5.