Imagine running a hilly 6K course in 20 minutes. Then imagine running that course with the clogged nose and sore throat of a sinus infection.
Brie Felnagle managed to do both early Saturday and still finish third overall with a time of 20:23:00.
Felnagle led the women's team to a sixth-place finish overall in the 2008 ACC cross country championships.
The men's team finished in eighth place in the conference an improvement over last year's 10th-place showing. Senior Brock Baker came in 30th for the top finish on the Tar Heels' squad.
Both Felnagle and junior Lauren Holesh turned in extraordinary runs on their way to earning All-ACC awards.
Holesh whose 20:36:00 run earned a fifth-place finish" has emerged this year as one of the elite runners in the ACC after sitting out last year's conference championships because of illness.
""She's just had a tremendous year. She was our sixth runner last year" and she's just improved every single season" coach Michael Whittlesey said.
She has just exuded confidence and stepped her game up so much over the past year. It's been awesome to watch.""
Finishing third for North Carolina was senior Morgan Stengel at 29th overall with a 21:41.8 finish time" followed by Ashley Verplank who turned in a time of 22:07.6" good for 47th. Callan Fike rounded out the scoring for the Tar Heels at 22:38.1.
Coach Whittlesey attributed the disappointing meet to injuries and illness.
""The preparation hasn't been the way we wanted it the whole year just because of injuries. We've been riddled by injuries all year"" he said.
We only ran five at the pre-national meet because no one was ready to go.""
The same thing could have been said for the ACC championships.
Felnagle" a 2007 All-America who finished 11th at the NCAA Championships last year" ran in spite of her infection.
""I'm pretty sick"" so I just gave it everything I had and definitely did better than I thought I might do"" Felnagle said.
A third-place finish is not too shabby considering that the first- and second-place runners were fellow All-Americas and national champions.
Yet this clearly was not the ACC finale she had envisioned. In a few weeks she will get her opportunity at redemption.
Holesh"" Felnagle and Whittlesey know they have been building the program all year and are hoping to continue that trend at the upcoming regional qualifiers.
""Only two teams qualify for the national championships at the regionals" and we are looking forward to that Holesh said.
Whittlesey said a less-hilly course at the qualifiers will benefit the team.
I know Morgan is going to step up I know Lauren is going to continue to do her great job and so is Brie" he said.
There's four teams that could flip-flop with each other. I expect us to go out there and win the race.""
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