Josette Norris leads women's cross country team to second-place finish
For North Carolina sophomore Josette Norris, the Princeton Inter-Regional Invitational meet held more significance than it did to other runners.
Norris — whose hometown of Tenafly is only 59 miles away from Princeton, New Jersey — finished in eighth place in the 6-kilometer race on Saturday to lead the women’s cross country team with a personal record of 21:08.3.
“To be our number one runner at a meet like this showed what she is capable of,” Coach Mark VanAlstyne said. “She has worked really hard.”
Norris' performance helped the women’s team finish second behind Princeton out of a total of 12 teams, while the men finished seventh out of 11 teams.
The meet at Princeton included tough competition from universities outside of the Tar Heels' region. The men’s team, currently ranked No. 29 in the coaches’ poll, competed against other ranked teams such as No. 19 Indiana and No. 24 Providence.
The women's team is currently ranked No. 21 in the coaches’ poll and faced competition including No. 18 and defending Southeast Regional Champions William & Mary, No. 25 Villanova and No. 28 Princeton.
In his first official race of the season, redshirt junior Mark Derrick posted a time of 24:22.5 in the 8-kilometer race to finish 17th overall for the men.
“Usually first races are the slowest, but I was happy with how I was able to perform,” Derrick said. “I maybe could’ve pushed it a little harder. I am content, but I am not satisfied.”
Senior Stephen Mulherin finished 10th overall to lead the men with a time of 24:17.4. Sophomores Hannah Christen and Carolina Alcorta also finished in the top 15 for the women’s team.
“It was a good start to what is essentially the part of our season that counts,” said VanAlstyne regarding both teams' performances. “Every year our goal is to compete for an NCAA Championship and a top 10 spot at Nationals.”
“The course was in decent shape and there was not too much mud. Going against the wind in some parts of the course was tough, but I would just tuck behind a runner and go.” — Derrick on how the weather affected the meet.
The Princeton Inter-Regional Invitational was the Tar Heels' first meet this year running with a lineup close to full strength. The race featured Derrick, Christen and Alcorta for the first time this season.
UNC will run at the Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin at noon on Oct. 16.
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