Peter Watson ushered in his second year as coach of the North Carolina cross country team with a first-place finish from UNC’s men and women at the annual Covered Bridge Open in Boone on Friday.
Both the men’s and the women’s team placed three runners in the top ten. The men claimed first overall in the 6.4k distance and the women first in the 5k distance, beating out ACC foes Wake Forest and Florida State in a show of early-season prowess.
Senior Evan Watchempino nabbed the top spot in the men’s group with a time of 19:38.14, more than four seconds before his closest opponent crossed the line.
“Our team definitely made a statement at the season opener,” Watchempino said. “Being a freshman and coming into a new environment, it’s hard to adjust to running farther and faster. They could have run better together but that’s something they will learn as they go.”
Cary native Mohamed Abushouk, another top-ten runner, managed a 19:59.30 in Friday’s race. The freshman outran his personal goal of 20 minutes in his first race for UNC.