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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC track and field teams have strong showings at ACC Championships

The North Carolina track and field teams competed at the ACC Championships over the weekend in Tallahassee, Fla. The men's team placed fourth overall, while the women's team came in 10th.

What happened?

The Championships kicked off Friday, and a few Tar Heels earned points for their respective teams. 

The highlight of Day 1 for UNC was senior Avana Story, who placed third in the women's hammer throw with a throw of 60.03 meters. With her performance, Story earned All-ACC honors. This was the second year in a row that Story placed third in the hammer throw. 

Other athletes who earned points include Stephen Mulherin, who came in fourth in the men's 10,000 meter race, Amanda Benninghoff, who finished fifth in the women's pole vault and A.J. Hicks, who placed eighth in the men's hammer throw. 

Day 2 of competition included more qualifying and scored events, but what ended up making the biggest impact for UNC was something redshirt Paul Haley would like to forget. 

After entering Saturday in the lead of the men's decathlon, Haley fell in the 110-meter hurdles, ultimately finishing in 12th and seeing his lead slip away. Haley would finish the decathlon in 8th place overall. 

Sunday's action saw UNC with their best overall day in terms of production. Seven Tar Heels earned All-ACC honors and the team added two first place finishes — Ceo Ways in the men's 400-meter race and Ways, Javonte Lipsey, Kenny Selmon and Cory Nicholls in the men's 4x400-meter relay. 

After the competition, Coach Harlis Meaders made sure to thank his coaching and training staff, without which he said none of the performances over the weekend would have been possible. 

"They are really the driving force behind the team,:" he said. "We couldn't have the level of success we've had without the sacrifices and contributions that they made."

Who stood out?

Ways led the way for the Tar Heels in terms of accolades, grabbing two first place finishes in the 400-meter race and as a member of the 4x400 relay team. 

"He's been a big part of our team over the past three years ... " Meaders said. "He had a really busy weekend."

His time of 45.86 seconds in the 400-meter race was a season-best and was good enough to earn the junior the first individual ACC title of his career. 

Why does it matter?

The ACC Championships are the last tune-up for the teams ahead of the NCAA East Preliminaries. The Tar Heels still have a lot of things to iron out before the prelims kick off in a week and a half, but Meaders is confident that his team can make some noise down in Jacksonville, Fla. 

"We'll be right back at work (Tuesday) to advance as many kids as we can out of the preliminary round in Jacksonville up to Eugene, Ore.," he said. 

Meaders highlighted the 4x400 relay team, senior Houston Summers, redshirt senior A.J. Hicks, senior Mark Derrick and first-year Nicole Greene as athletes who could potentially advance to the NCAA Championships.

Where do they play next?

The Tar Heels will compete in the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla. from May 26-28.

@jbo_vernon

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