After being sidelined by injury, most athletes would be satisfied with crossing the finish line in their return debut.
But sophomore Ryan Walling, coming back from a shin injury, managed both a first-place finish and an indoor personal record of 4:13.98 in the mile race at the Kent Taylor Invitational at Eddie Smith Field House on Saturday.
Walling suffered the injury in winter training and was kept off the track for 10 days. He returned this weekend for the team’s last meet before the ACC Championships.
“I feel like the race was a bit of a rust buster,” Walling said. “I was able to shake off the cobwebs by getting out there and running fast for the first time in a while.”
For Walling, this weekend’s performance was a chance to better his case for a spot on UNC’s ACC Championships roster.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough to make the ACC team because I think I’ll be able to improve significantly after finally getting my first race in,” Walling said.
In the same race, Walling’s teammate — junior Mike Jacobs — finished second and also recorded a personal record of 4:14.58.
UNC’s athletes made a statement with eight top-collegiate or first-place finishes and seven personal records, which bodes well as the team heads to the conference championships at Virginia Tech from Feb. 21 to 23.
Many athletes who had already been selected for UNC’s conference championship roster did not participate in the meet in preparation for next weekend.