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UNC track and field wraps up NCAA prelims, several qualify for NCAA Championships

track and field head coach Harlis Meaders

Harlis Meaders, UNC's track and field head coach, addresses the team after a January meet.

The North Carolina track & field team competed in the NCAA East Preliminary Round this weekend on the campus of the University of North Florida.

Nicole Greene, Madison Wiltrout and the men's 4x400 team of Isaiah Palmer, Ryan Saint-Germain, Onyedikachi Ohia-Enyia and Ari Cogdell all qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas.

Thursday

The Tar Heels encountered early success when a pair of teammates punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships.

Early in the day, Wiltrout became the first Tar Heel to make it to Austin with her performance in the women’s javelin. The redshirt first-year finished fifth amongst her competition with a throw of 51.69 meters. This marks the first time the Pennsylvania native has qualified for the NCAA Championships. 

Later in the day, Green, a redshirt junior, advanced to her first-ever outdoor national championship with her performance in the high jump, finishing with a height of 5-10 ¾ (1.80 meters).

“Madison was my roommate, so we were talking about it all the time,” Green said. “She just had to throw one good one and she would be in, but (watching her) gave me the confidence that I could do it too.” 

Carolina’s success continued as three other team members advanced to the quarterfinals in their events. Juniors Alex Milligan and Brandon Tubby finished the 1,500-meters race with times of 3:53.91 and 3:53.97, respectively, to move on to the men's quarterfinals. 

Sophomore Anna Keefer qualified for the next round of the women’s 100-meters race with a time of 11.51 seconds.

Friday 

As competition heated up on Friday, UNC saw several seasons come to an end with strong finishes and personal bests. 

Sophomore Emerson Porter and senior Anna Eaton each finished their seasons with top-20 regional finishes in the women's pole vault. Porter, who was originally seeded 34th in the competition, cleared a lifetime-best height of 13-4 1/4 (4.07 meters) for 17th place. Meanwhile, Eaton placed 18th with a height of 12-10 1/4 (3.92 meters).

Keefer followed up her two performances on Thursday with two more appearances on Friday to close out her 2019 campaign. 

The Minnesota native finished 31st in the first round of the women's 200 meters with the second-best time of her career, at 23.71 seconds. Keefer clocked another second-best time of her career of 11.47 seconds in the women's 100-meter quarterfinal to place 19th in the region. 

Head coach Harlis Meaders acknowledge Keefer’s weekend workload was heavy, but believed she competed well. 

“She’s just a really hard-working kid … she came up a little bit short, but I think she still has tremendous upside,” Meaders said. “We’re looking forward to watching her continue to grow and hopefully have the chance to build some relays around her next year.” 

Saturday 

Alex Milligan and Brandon Tubby qualified for the men’s quarterfinal 1,500-meters event on Thursday and returned to action Saturday evening. 

Both juniors improved on their first-round times, but came up just short of qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Milligan finished 15th with a time of 3:50.00, while Tubby was right on the heels of his teammate, finishing 16th with a time of 3:50.09. 

UNC finished competition late in the evening with the men’s 4x400. 

Sophomores Palmer and Saint-Germain were accompanied by first-year Ohia-Enyia and junior Cogdell to make up the relay squad. The group ran the last race of the day and qualified for Austin with their seventh-place finish with a time of 3:05.44. 

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“We came in ranked 14th and we left ranked 7th,” Palmer said. “It was wild. You don’t believe it until you blindly put it all out there on the track, and that’s what we did.” 

On to Nationals

North Carolina will be sending Wiltrout, Greene and the men’s 4x400 team to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Austin, Texas from June 5 through June 8.

@jsimp24

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com