The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday April 1st

Cross Country Plans to Combine Efforts to Notch `W's

They don't read Karl Marx before each meet, and their uniforms aren't embroidered with a hammer and sickle.

But the Tar Heels are focusing on the collective good of the team, not on individual achievements, for success in 2001.

"Our motivation lies in how the team does," sophomore Shalane Flanagan said. "I'm going to sweat, and I'm going to hurt for them."

Since the team scores points based on the times of its top six finishers, consistency from top to bottom is critical.

"Cross country is such a true team sport in the fact that every man counts equally," senior Matt Weiss said.

North Carolina began the 2001 season on a high note with five dual meet relay victories at the Charlotte Invitational on Saturday.

The women's relay teams claimed the first six spots to defeat Charlotte and Campbell, while the men notched a 9-12 win against the 49ers and a pair of 6-15 victories against Campbell and Wofford.

UNC's women return every starter from last year's squad, which finished second in the conference and 12th at the NCAA Championships.

Led by the All-American Flanagan, the Tar Heels are the favorite to win the conference title.

"We won the ACC Championship two years ago, and we want to reclaim the title from N.C. State," senior Kim Timberlake said.

Flanagan, the defending ACC champion, looks to improve upon her fourth-place finish at the 2000 NCAAs.

"(Flanagan) has got as good of a chance as anybody in the country to win the national title, but our main goal is for our team first," UNC coach Michael Whittlesey said.

Co-captains Timberlake, a 2000 All-ACC performer, Rebecca Walker and Beth George provide UNC with veteran leadership, while Bobbie Jo Munson and Victoria Jackson continue to improve.

Freshmen Erin Donahue and Carol Henry highlight a strong recruiting class and add depth to a solid lineup.

"I see both of them establishing themselves as some of our front-runners on the team," Whittlesey said.

The combo of Donahue and sophomore Alice Schmidt navigated the approximately six-mile course at McAlpine Park in 32:55 to win the Charlotte Invitational.

The women's consistency from top to bottom was the most promising sign from the season opener. All six relay teams finished within a minute of each other.

"We are going to be closer together, where as last year we were more spread out in our levels of fitness," Flanagan said.

"We are pretty much going to dominate, to be honest."

Despite their strong performance at last weekend's race, the Tar Heel men face a more difficult challenge than the women this season.

They finished fifth in the conference last year and haven't placed any runners on the All-ACC team during the last two years.

Weiss led UNC with a 20th-place finish at the conference meet in 2000 and should provide stability and leadership as a co-captain.

"I've just tried to lead by example," Weiss said. "Just show up and get the job done."

Kris Kurjiaka, Matt Sciandra, and Steven Edwards also return from the 2000 squad.

Several freshmen, including Brian McGovern and Matt Daly, have a chance to contribute immediately. The relay team of McGovern and Weiss posted a time of 50:23, good for second overall at the Charlotte Invitational.

The Tar Heels will get a much needed boost from junior Dash Victor, who is returning from a stress facture in his femur that sidelined him in 2000.

"This year, if (Dash) stays healthy, he'll make a tremendous impact on the team," Weiss said.

Victor and Daly finished third at the Charlotte Invitational.

Despite the high expectations, winning the conference may not be a realistic goal for the men in 2001.

"Hopefully we are going to move up a lot in conference," Whittlesey said. "We look forward to the challenge."

Cross Country Schedule

Sat., Sept. 15 Wake Forest Invitational 9:30 a.m.

Sat., Sept. 29 UNC Challenge 9:30 a.m.

Sat., Oct. 13 NCAA Preview* 10:15 a.m.

Sun., Oct. 14 Wolverine Intercollegiate 10:30 a.m.

Sat., Oct. 27 ACC Championships** TBA

Sat., Nov. 10 District Championship* 10:00 a.m.

Mon., Nov. 19 NCAA Championships* 11:00 a.m.

* at Greenville, S.C.

** at Clemson, S.C.

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