North Carolina showed remarkable consistency, placing five other runners in the top 35, but lacked the finishing to overcome strong outings from ACC foes Virginia, NC State, and Florida State.
The women’s team was paced by Junior Caroline Alcorta’s first place finish. Three other Tar Heels finished in the top 15.
However, this performance was not enough to overcome NC State, who placed all five scoring runners in the top 15. UNC narrowly took second place, missing first by only 14 points.
Who stood out?
Alcorta’s first place finish was her second this year. Her time of 16:42.4, a new PR for Alcorta, was more than ten seconds faster than the runner-up’s. After earning all-ACC honors last season, Alcorta is poised to lead the team once again in 2016.
When was it decided?
For the first half of the men’s race, UNC ran as a pack. At the 2875 meter point, North Carolina’s top seven runners were all within 20 seconds of each other.
As the race went on, the Tar Heels became more spread out. By the end of the race there was an almost minute and a half long gap between UNC’s first runner and their seventh. Still a fairly tight pack, but not as unified as before.
Had this gap been smaller, North Carolina could have shaved off a few points and claimed a better finish.
Despite her dominant victory, Alcorta faced stiff opposition in the women’s race. At the 2000 meter mark there were ten runners within five seconds of Alcorta.
Unphased by this, Alcorta pushed herself forward and slowly pulled away from the pack. By the end of the race there wasn’t a runner within ten seconds of her.
Why does it matter?
VanAlstyne firmly believes there is no substitute for experience when it comes to collegiate cross country. Runners must be confident in their ability to compete, and the only way to build that confidence is to go out and race.
By giving first-years race experience now, the Tar Heels will be better prepared in the future.
Additionally, the meet gave UNC an early look at the course they will run on at the ACC Cross Country Championships in October.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will travel to South Bend, Indiana to compete in the Joe Piane ND XC Invitational on September 30.