Saturday marked the end of the North Carolina track and field team’s indoor season, but coach Harlis Meaders wasn’t feeling nostalgic — he was looking ahead to a bright future.
The Tar Heels sent 11 athletes to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. The men finished in a tie for 45th place; the women failed to register a point. For Meaders, though, the final meet of the season was more a launching pad than a culmination.
“We brought 11 kids, and for each of those kids it was their first time coming to an NCAA indoor championship, so there was a growing curve for us,” Meaders said. “We have to keep recruiting and developing the kids that we have, but I really feel like in the very near future we’re going to be one of the top 25 teams in the country.”
In just two seasons at the helm, Meaders has made large strides with the UNC track and field program, particularly on the men’s side. The men’s runner-up finish in the ACC championships was an improvement over last year’s fourth place.
One of the men’s team’s most promising events is the 4×400-meter relay, which was the highlight of this weekend’s indoor championships. The four-man team of R.J. Alowonle, Sean Sutton, Javonte Lipsey and Ceo Ways earned All-America honors with a fifth-place finish. Their season-best time of 3:06.49 was just 0.13 seconds slower than the UNC indoor record.