Both track squads divided this weekend. But conquering was not their goal.

On opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line, half of the members from the men’s and women’s track teams competed in the Sam Howell Invitational at Princeton while the other half traveled to Williamsburg, Va., for the Colonial Relays at William and Mary.

“The reason we split the team is because Virginia has a lot of relays, and it is a good opportunity to get good times,” captain Elizabeth Calle ’08 said. “There is no real difference between the two meets in field events, so there is no additional benefit for them to make the 10-hour bus ride.”

The hope of warmer weather in Virginia was a major appeal of the relays, Jared Bell ’09 said, so the Eli sprinters, relay teams and several long distance runners made the bus ride down South in hopes of earning times without the harsh, cold winds the team encountered at last week’s Southern Connecticut meet.

Although the forecast predicted rainy conditions, Bell said the rain never occurred during competition time, so the warmer weather could work towards the athletes’ advantage, unlike last year’s conditions. At last year’s relays, also in early April, the Eli teams competed in the season’s only snow, forcing cancellation of the second day of competition.

Another perk of the relays is the high level of competition present, distinguishing it for its distance and relay events. The spectrum of competition ranged from D-I schools like Michigan State and Georgetown to talented D-III teams like Cortland State, a compilation of ability that included 20 All-Americans.

And the Bulldogs made a strong showing against such stiff competition.

Although the scores reflect little about the Eli teams’ ability with half the members away at Princeton, the men secured a fourth-place finish with 53 points, and the women earned ninth place with 25 points.

In individual events, the Bulldog men garnered points from Chris Labosky ’10, who placed second in the 800 meter run, Victor Cheng ’08, who was third in the 100 meter dash and Jared Bell ’09, second in the 1500 meter run. The relay groups placed first in the distance medley, second in the 4×100-meter and third in the 4×200-meter.

The women’s team also fared well in the relays, taking second in the distance medley and third in the 4×800-meter. The standout individual performance came from Calle in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, as she earned an ECAC qualifying time with her third-place finish.

“The goal in Virginia was just to get some fast times under our belts,” Labosky said. “It was a good opportunity to get in at least one competitive effort before we compete against Harvard in two weeks.”

Back in the Northeast, the other half of the roster competed at the Sam Howell Invitational in an unscored meet against local competition.

The Elis were unable to claim any top finishes at the Invitational — second place in an event was the highest rank earned for the weekend, coming from Jeffrey Lachman ’09 in the discus throw. Eric DePalo ’10 received a third-place finish for the pole vault, behind Princeton athletes in first and second, and Kevin Hickenbottom ’09 also earned third place for his performance in the javelin throw.

On the women’s side, the highest finish came from Emily Standish ’11 in the high jump. Stephanie Scaramella ’11 and Lydia Maurer ’11 followed with 10th- and 11th-place finishes respectively in their events.

The Bulldog teams will build on the individual attention they received in their events this weekend as they reunite for the next leg of the outdoor season. The men will head to the two-day Bucknell Bison Invitational in Lewisburg, Pa, while the women will face Princeton and Penn in Philadelphia on Saturday.