This past weekend, Siana Emery, a first-year, and Sawyer Biddle, a junior, punched their tickets to Johnson City, Tennessee to compete in the NAIA National Championships from Mar. 2-4. Both of Goshen College’s race walkers claimed All-American status in their first race of the season at the Doug Yoder Race walk on the Goshen campus.Emery, a North Yarmouth, Maine native, clocked her personal best time in the 3,000-meter race walk with a time of 16 minutes and 1.32 seconds, and currently stands as the third best time posted in the NAIA this season. Despite her second place finish, Emery topped the national championship qualifying time by 28 seconds.
Emery is no stranger to the spotlight after competing in the Maine Class B state championships all four years of her high school career.
She started learning how to walk with one foot on the ground at all times from the age of five and sees her qualifying time in her first collegiate meet as another success.
“Going into the season, it was a goal I knew was attainable based on what I had done in high school,” Emery said. “But actually achieving it was surreal. It shows that my hard work is paying off, and I think it sets a great base for the rest of my collegiate career. Qualifying gave me the confidence that I need as a freshman that I can compete alongside the talent at this level. I am ecstatic to go to nationals in March and see what I can do there. It’ll be a learning experience if nothing else.”
As for Biddle, this accomplishment is nothing new, rather it is an expected success. A fourth place finish with a time of 14:31.04 was a career best for the junior. His time was 16 seconds faster than the time needed to qualify for the national championships. This will be his second time competing in Johnson City, and he hopes to use his past experience to his advantage.
“I know what to expect, more or less,” Biddle said. “One change, though, is the level of competition in the field this year. I’ve seen some other guys with some hot times already, and I think we’ll have an exciting competition in Johnson City. Being able to compete for and represent Goshen College is a huge privilege.”
Abby Smith, a former Maple Leaf race walker is now serving as the head race walking coach for Emery and Biddle this season. Smith, a national championship race walker, addressed the quick start of the pair.
“The fact that they were able to qualify in the first race of the season says a lot about their work ethic and dedication to race walk,” said Smith. “They are always up for anything; they have high goals for the season, and I have no doubt that they will be able to accomplish them.”
Emery and Biddle will lace up once again on Friday, Feb.10 looking to improve their already strong times. The Goshen College race walk will take place on the track of the Recreation Fitness Center at 7 p.m.