This meet was the last before NCAA competition begins at the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 27. VanAlstyne viewed Friday's meet as an opportunity to finalize the travel squad that will be competing in Minnesota, so he held out his top six male runners and top two female runners.
“I was pretty pleased,” VanAlstyne said.
Mulherin and Whelan said they were satisfied with their individual performances as well as the team performances, but both said that there is always room for improvement.
"I was fairly satisfied," Whelan said. "But you never run a perfect race.”
Mulherin echoed that sentiment.
“I performed well,” Mulherin said in an email. “However I could have performed better.”
VanAlstyne singled out junior Mark Derrick and Mulherin as two runners that really impressed him. Mulherin has dealt with an ankle injury that kept him from competing recently, but he said his ankle injury wasn’t a problem and that the sports medicine staff did a good job preparing him for Friday’s meet at Virginia Tech.
“I was happy to see Stephen Mulherin have a good race,” VanAlstyne said.
The flat Virginia Tech course could have been what kept Mulherin's ankle from flaring up. Both he and Whelan complimented the course, noting that it ran smoothly.
“It was a really good, really honest cross country course. It wasn’t easy by any stretch," VanAlstyne said. "But we enjoyed competing there.”
Despite withholding top runners, the Tar Heels still finished second only to powerhouse Florida State. East Tennessee State, Radford, Ohio and host Virginia Tech also competed.
VanAlstyne said that the focus for this week will be primarily to rest up and recover because of the short turnaround before the meet on Sept. 27. He said he does not want the runners pushing too hard and tiring themselves out.
Whelan agreed with her head coach, saying she would try it easy during this week of practice.
“I’ll do mileage at the beginning of the week and cut back for fresh legs,” Whelan said.
For the all-important Roy Griak Invitational next week, Mulherin said the team is focusing on gaining fitness and building up to full strength.
"Our plan for preparing for next week is to recover from this past race and get mentally prepared to push ourselves much harder than we did at VT," he said.