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The Daily Tar Heel

Seniors, first-years impress on UNC men's and women's track and field teams

Hurdles Carolina Cup

Runners compete in the women's hurdles event during the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup on Jan. 13 in Eddie Smith Field House.

The North Carolina track and field teams split up this weekend, as some competed in the Music City Challenge in Nashville, Tenn., and others competed in the Tiger Paw Invite in Clemson, S.C. Several athletes moved into UNC's record books in their respective events. 

What happened?

UNC rewrote the school’s record books at the Music City Challenge in Nashville — headlined by junior Morgan Ilse’s performance on Friday. Ilse finished second in the women’s 5,000 meters race with a time of 16:16.77. Her time was good enough to break the school’s all-time record in the event. It is also the fifth-fastest time in the ACC and top-25 in the country. 

Both the men’s and women’s 4x100 relay squads also claimed their spots in Tar Heel history. The women’s team, made up of sophomore McKinley McNeill, Jewel Christian, Natisha Dixon and Cierra Dunston took third in the event with a time of 3:37.19. The group’s time was fourth in school history, third in the ACC and top-25 in the nation. 

The men’s 4x100 relay team was composed of senior Kenny Selmon and three first-years — Ryan Saint-Germain, Isaiah Palmer and Jadon Johnson. Their time of 3:07.57 is also the fourth-fastest time in UNC history. It is also the second-best in the ACC this season and top-15 in the country.

North Carolina also stood out at the Tiger Paw Invite in Clemson, S.C. First-year Jill Shippee threw a collegiate career-best 63.09 feet (19.23 meters) to finish fourth in the event. The distance places Shippee at third all-time for UNC in the event and is a top-10 mark in the ACC this season. 

Although her throw was impressive, Shippee may only be scratching the surface of what she is capable of. The first-year was the high school national champion in the event last year and has thrown a distance of 65.48 feet (19.96 meters) during her high school days. 

Who stood out?

Ilse’s standout performance came just six days after her she ran a 9:12.17 in the 3,000 meters run at the Camel City Invitational in Winston Salem — a time that is fourth place in school history. With just a six day turnaround, breaking the school record in the 5,000 meters race is remarkable. 

When was it decided?

Neither the Music City Challenge or the Tiger Paw Invite were scored meets. However, the Tar Heels had strong showings throughout the weekend in both Nashville and Clemson. 

Why does it matter?

This was the second-to-last meet for the North Carolina track and field teams before they head to the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Clemson, S.C., on February 22-24. 

UNC’s strong showings at the Music City Challenge and the Tiger Paw Invite this weekend will likely go a long way in boosting confidence as the teams look to finish the indoor season strong. 

When do they play next?

The North Carolina track and field teams will hit the track again next Friday and Saturday at the UCS Invitational in Winston Salem.


@DTHSports |

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