The women finished tied for 59th, and the men tied for 55th.
Alowonle, who placed fifth in the men’s 400-meter hurdle race after racing in the 4x400-meter relay and in the 400-meter hurdle prelims, also earned first team All-America honors.
“Running the finals I felt pretty good. I felt confident, I felt ready,” he said. “The race that I wanted to run really wasn’t there. I made a lot of technical errors within the race. But, I can’t be all that disappointed with the place my first time at nationals. It was unbelievably amazing.”
Eight Tar Heels competed at nationals, which lasted from Wednesday, June 11 to Saturday, June 14.
“Eugene has a great history, and the crowd was phenomenal,” coach Harlis Meaders said. “I think it may have been the largest crowd some of the kids have seen. But our kids were prepared. We didn’t do quite as well as we could have in a couple situations.”
The men’s 4x400-meter team, which placed fifth at the indoor championships and won at the ACC championships, placed 18th after having to run alternate Devon Carter in place of Kwame Donyinah, who had aggravated an injury.
Sophomore Sarah Howard, the last Tar Heel to finish competing, placed 18th in the women’s shot put Saturday afternoon. Sophomore Lizzy Whelan finished 17th in the women’s 1500-meter race, and junior Javonte Lipsey placed 10th in the 400-meter hurdle race. Neither of them advanced to the finals of their respective events.
While not all of the Tar Heels were satisfied with their performances at nationals compared to other races they had run this season, almost all of them will have another shot at nationals.
Only one UNC senior, Isaac Presson, ran at nationals. Presson ran just seconds off his personal best in a record-setting 5,000-meter race, finishing 13th in his last collegiate race against some of the world’s best 5,000-meter runners.
“It was kind of a unique race in that the top guys, we knew they were at a different level than I am right now,” he said. “I went out a little more conservatively than they were going.”
Presson said he started near the back, but worked his way up to the middle of the pack.
“It was a collegiate 5k NCAA record, and it was on ESPN top-10, so it was kind of cool being a part of that,” he said. “But at the same time, it was kind of tough to maintain my race being pretty well back of the leaders and still trying to run hard throughout.”
While the team will lose major talent in Presson, the seven other national competitors return next year, and the coaches and athletes agree this outdoor season and national meet marked a step in the right direction for UNC.
“Within the two years that he’s been here and I’ve been here, the team is making big strides to become the team and the powerhouse that coach Meaders envisions,” Alowonle said.
“We’re a lot closer to that than people would have thought two years ago.”
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