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UNC track and field places well in Virginia Challenge

All or nothing was the motto that stuck with the North Carolina track and field team as they competed in the Virginia Challenge Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

Numerous dominating performances spread across the leader board, with Avana Story in the women's hammer throw, Emily Godwin in the women's high jump, Isaac Presson in the men's 1500 meters, Sarah Howard in the women's shot put and Tory Kemp in the women's heptathlon each finishing their respective individual events in first place.

Many other Tar Heels followed with second and third-place finishes.

Tory Kemp had an outstanding performance in her heptathlon event, scoring a total of 5366 points.

Assistant coach Josh Langley specifically pointed out Kemp’s exceptional performance. 

“She had a huge personal best by over 215 points, and she even has had two significant hamstring injuries," Langley said. "She has been pretty amazing.”

But despite these impressive performances, a hand of last-place finishes were dealt to the Tar Heels. 

Stormy weather and stiff competition contributed to the poor performances from sophomore Paul Haley and junior Cameron Overstreet.

Haley was in third place in the men’s decathlon with 3,734 points after Friday's events, looking ahead to the five events remaining Saturday afternoon. But during Saturday's first event, the 110 M hurdles, he strained his hamstring and was forced to withdraw from the event.

A big storm passed through right before the competition started Saturday, and Haley said it possibly influenced his performance.

“Most of it is a mindset more than anything," Haley said. "It was hard to get my body ramped back up after the delay.”

The American Track League, which consists of nationally known track athletes, was invited to compete against a select group of athletes in specific events. Overstreet was invited to participate in the women’s pole vault.

Though Overstreet failed to place in the event, Langley said the involvement with this elite competition was a fantastic idea to get the sport of track and field more noticed. 

“The American Track League is absolutely a great thing for our sport,” Langley said. “Anytime you can line up for the best athletes in the country and the world it’s going to make you raise your level."

The Tar Heels still have a long road ahead of them before June’s NCAA tournament in Eugene, Ore.  

Freshman Caroline Brailsford, who finished second in the women’s pole vault Friday, said this weekend allowed the team to prepare for the road ahead.

“This meet was a really great opportunity to refocus after exams," Brailsford said, "and set new goals before we head to Jacksonville for regionals.”

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