When senior Isaac Presson spoke about the significance of being a North Carolina runner in the pre-race huddle Friday night, he noticed some prominent faces missing from the group.
In order to rest their legs, many of UNC’s top runners sat out of the adidas Cross Country Challenge, giving some of the younger team members a chance to shine. Presson, however, was selected to compete after missing the prior meet.
“Isaac said basically that very few people get the chance to represent UNC,” junior Bryan Noreen said.
“It should be taken seriously and you should be proud of the opportunity you get at UNC. I think that was good to hear whether you’re a freshman or not because it’s a remarkable thing.”
The lineup changes affected neither Presson — who won the Division I 5K — nor the rest of the men’s team, which placed second overall behind N.C. State.
“Isaac is already such a good leader,” coach Mark VanAlstyne said.“I know that he felt some pressure to do well for the guys who weren’t racing. He ran 30 seconds faster than the same race he was in last year. That bodes well for the rest of the guys who didn’t run because they are training with him every day.”
Noreen, junior Braedon Koerwitz, freshman Chris Reeder, and sophomore Chris Madaffari also helped contribute to the 54-point finish..
“(The younger runners) had all raced earlier in the year,” Presson said.
“But we had a lot of the top guys there so there wasn’t much pressure on them to be in the top five and score. (Friday) required them to play that part. They definitely felt more pressure and they did a pretty good job of responding to it.”