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The Daily Tar Heel

Track registers a slew of season-best performances

The team competed in the Husky and Iowa State Classics

The North Carolina track and field team returned to Chapel Hill with an abundance of season-best performances this weekend.

A select group of distance runners traveled to the University of Washington for the Husky Classic, while the rest of the team competed at the Iowa State Classic.

At the Iowa State Classic, Ceo Ways, AJ Hicks, Xenia Rahn, Avana Story and Cory Nicholls each surpassed his or her previous season-best performance. Hicks threw 70-10 ½ in the men’s weight throw, claiming third in the competition and a top-10 finish in the country.

Hicks said he owes his recent success to his experience as a thrower.

“This is my fourth year with the 35-pound ball,” Hicks said. “Every year, I’ve gotten better. I think I’ve done better because I’m a better competitor in general,” Hicks said. “I did a better job at relaxing myself and not overthinking myself while I throw.”

The men’s 4x400 relay team consisting of Ways, Sean Sutton, Kenny Selmon and Javonte Lipsey made its first appearance as a group this season. This team, known as the “A” team, consists of the four strongest men’s 400 runners, Selmon said.

“Some people have been hurt or some people have been sick, so it was good to have everybody together for once,” Selmon said. “The results clearly show with the most powerful guys on the track.”

Though the four athletes have to work together during a race, Selmon said they each hold different strengths and the coaching staff focuses on them individually at practice.

“Everybody’s different, so everybody uses their strengths differently,” Selmon said. “I respect our coach for noticing and tailoring our practices to our differencesbecause there may need to be speed work for one person and endurance for another. It’s all the same in the end, but practices will be different for different people.”

The team has already qualified for the ACC Championships, but is still competing to qualify for Nationals. With two weeks of practice left, Selmon said their main focus will be finishing races with more strength and remaining healthy as a team.

At the University of Washington, 1,734 miles up the road from Iowa State, the Tar Heels were up against some of the best athletes in the country.

Three of the five men’s 5000-meter competitors, Ryan Walling, Mark Derrick and Stephen Mulherin, ran their season’s best. Walling's 14:01.49 time was good for second-best in school history on the men's side, as was Annie LeHardy's 16:28.56 mark in the women's 5000.

Head Coach Harlis Meaders said he was happy with the results of the weekend and impressed with the number of athletes that have stepped up.

“At this point, most of the work has been done,” Meaders said. “It’s all about keeping our kids healthy and going into the ACC Championships with the hopes of either holding on or dropping a little faster performances to get to the NCAA Championship.”

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