UNC track and field competes in Winston-Salem despite weather

The North Carolina track and field team had planned to spread itself across the country this weekend — to Seattle, Wash., Albuquerue, N.M., and Winston-Salem.

But after snow canceled the trips out west, it looked like the team might have been stuck with no place to go.

So when the roads leading to Winston-Salem were deemed passable, UNC relished the opportunity to compete.

The Tar Heels claimed first place in 10 events Saturday at the UCS Invitational, which was compressed from two days to one.

“It turned out to be a fantastic meet for us,” coach Harlis Meaders said. “The kids that were going to go out west performed as well here as they could have out west.”

Freshman triple jumper Keyasia Tibbs was especially grateful for the chance to perform — when she stepped onto the runway and eyed the sandbox at the end, it was the first time in three weeks that she’d done so in competition .

Tibbs took a break from meets recently to go back to the basics. She worked extra hours with an assistant coach to improve her form and by Saturday she was eager to test her progress.

“I didn’t compete in the last few meets so I could work on the techniques and the things that I needed to work on,” Tibbs said. “We really focused on specific aspects of the jump. We went backward, took it slow and worked our way forward.”

The hard work paid off. Her 12.28-meter final jump was good for first place and her collegiate indoor personal best .

“I wasn’t supposed to come in first,” Tibbs said. “But with my hard work, I just knew there was a possibility that I could come in first, not because of my stats but because of the hard work I’ve put in for the past three weeks. When I stepped on the runway, I just knew that the competition was mine.”

Joe Sansone, another freshman, led the way as the Tar Heels took five of the top seven spots in the men’s 5,000-meter run. He broke away from the pack at the two-mile mark and set a personal record with a first-place time of 14:24.05.

Sansone was scheduled to run in Seattle this weekend, but he wasn’t discouraged by the change in plans.

“I came in with a positive mindset,” he said. “I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to run this weekend.”

Sansone said that same attitude was what fueled the Tar Heels’ overall success on Saturday.

“We wanted to show that we could compete anywhere,” he said. “No matter what the conditions are or what situation we’re in, we are still going to be able to run fast.

“We just wanted to take advantage of whatever opportunity we got, especially because we had to scramble just to be able to compete in this event.”

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