UNC's female distance runners take top spots at Dick Taylor Invitational

The Dick Taylor Invitational wasn’t just an opportunity for the North Carolina female distance runners to grab the top spot in their events.

It was also chance to adjust to competing in indoor track.

Many of the Tar Heel distance runners compete in cross country during the fall. The move to an indoor track could have been a challenge.

“Indoor can be a rude awakening coming off of winter training, which can be a bit slower,” said assistant coach Mark VanAlstyne, who is in charge of the distance runners.

That rude awakening, however, came to competitors who fell behind UNC’s women’s distance runners in almost every event.

North Carolina started its winning streak with the women’s distance medley relay.

UNC had two teams competing. The UNC B team finished first with a time of 11:47.42. UNC A finished about 11 seconds later to secure second place.

Sophomore Kylie McCoy said the two teams were competing with each other more than they were competing with the other schools.

“I think our coach tried to make our relays as even as he could so we could try to challenge each other because he knew we would crush it,” McCoy said. “We just wanted to keep it even so we could push each other. “

McCoy ran the final leg of the relay for the UNC B team.

Sophomore Annie LeHardy, who ran the relay for the A team, said the race was also an opportunity to challenge teammate Lianne Farber, a previous All-ACC indoor track competitor and All-American cross country runner.

“It was good for me to keep her as close to me as I could and give my team a little bit of room to catch up,” LeHardy said.

VanAlstyne was impressed with LeHardy’s ability to keep up with Farber.

“It’s tough to account for how fit Lianne Farber is right now,” VanAlstyne said. “When she opens up with a first leg, a 1200-meter leg, the way she did, there aren’t many people in the conference who can stay with her.”

Farber later took first in the women’s 800-meter run.

Both LeHardy and McCoy, who competed in races outside their usual slate of events, referred to the meet as a workout.

VanAlstyne said he placed the runners in new events so they could work on their weaknesses.

“Indoor is a great opportunity to either run down or run up,” VanAlstyne said. “So in other words, run an event that’s shorter than normal to build up some speed or run a longer event, in the case of some of our 800-meter runners, to work on strength.”

Even though the Tar Heels didn’t feel as comfortable in the mile event, the five UNC runners in the event took the top five spots.

LeHardy placed first with a sub-five minute finish. McCoy came in second.

Though it doesn’t seem as if UNC could improve from its spot on top, LeHardy saw room to keep growing in unfamiliar events this season.

“I’m not sure which events I’ll run at each meet, so every time, it’s an opportunity for me to get a new time or faster time for different events.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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