This year's goal for UNC: to leave its conference competitors in the dust and make its mark nationally. The Tar Heels will begin their shot at national prominence at Virginia Tech today.
"Throughout the 1990s we were always first or second in the ACCs," said UNC track and field coach Dennis Craddock. "I want us to get back there. I think we also have a good chance to place in the top 10 (nationally) if everyone does what they're supposed to do."
But a conference championship won't come easily for UNC with both Clemson and Florida State expected to challenge the Tar Heels.
"It's kind of an enviable situation," Craddock said. "Everyone shoots for us. I think the secret for our women is not to become complacent and not think that just because they line up they're going to win."
North Carolina boasts senior sprinters Crystal Cox and Lutisha Shittu, who competed in the Olympic trials last summer.
While Shittu placed third in the
60-meter hurdles at last year's ACC Championships, Cox took a medical redshirt.
"Everybody's going to have to stay healthy," Shittu said. "It's possible that we can win the ACCs, but it's going to take a team effort."
Senior Trish Nervo will help lead a formidable distance squad for the Tar Heels. Nervo returns to the track after using up her eligibility in the 1999 cross country season. She was the ACC indoor champion in the 3,000 meters and placed second in the 5,000 last year.