ACC title up for grabs in Virginia

Although Harlis Meaders is in his first year as North Carolina’s head track and field coach, he is no rookie when it comes to sporting Tar Heel blue on the winner’s podium.

Twenty years ago, Meaders won back-to-back ACC outdoor titles for UNC in discus and an indoor title in weight throw. He also captained the 1992 team that won the ACC outdoor title.

This weekend, he’ll return to the ACC Indoor Championships at Virginia Tech’s Rector Field House as UNC’s head coach.

“I don’t know if there’s a big difference between how I felt as an athlete and how I feel now as a coach,” Meaders said. “I don’t get a chance to wear a uniform, and I don’t get a chance to throw anything. But other than that, I’m just as excited as the kids are.”

Since Meaders arrived, he has focused on uniting his athletes by calling more team meetings and dinners. He said it’s team policy that athletes must sit with a teammate outside of their specialties.

Junior distance runner Patrick Schellberg said he believes additional bonding will help the team on race day.

“Our team has been more separated in the past event-wise, but this year coach Meaders has been really focusing on unifying our team as a whole,” Schellberg said.

The team has also dedicated itself to “being the better blue.” Junior distance runner Isaac Presson said its meaning can be boiled down to selflessness and improvement.

“Being the better blue is leaving everything on the track and supporting your teammates,” Presson said. “We’re still out there competing as a team and even if you’re not scoring the most points, you’re trying to help support from the sidelines.”

Presson will attempt to defend the ACC title in the mile. Sophomore Cameron Overstreet, who is the second-ranked pole-vaulter in the conference, will hope to join him on the podium.

For the women, junior Lianne Farber, senior Chrishawn Williams, senior Briana Hudson and senior Ariel Roberts are all nationally ranked and likely medal contenders in Blacksburg.

For the men, Schellberg is ranked fourth in both the 3000- and 5000-meter runs. Senior Chris DiLorenzo is second in shot put, and A.J. Hicks is fifth in the weight throw.

Both teams placed third at last year’s championships.

Although Meaders will not be lacing up for the meet, he has set a high bar for his team.

“The one thing that we’ve talked to the kids about is not wanting the moment to be bigger than them,” Meaders said. “If we’re going to be great as a University or great as a team, we must first have the courage to be great as individuals — that’s what being the better blue is.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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