The North Carolina cross country teams competed in the Under Armour Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Indiana, a meet that featured 38 men's teams and 37 women's teams in the two main races. Despite the deep field of competition, the women's team finished 16th and the men's team placed 17th on Saturday.
In the women’s Blue Division 6K, redshirt junior Paige Hofstad led the team with a time of 20:35.0 and a 19th-place finish. Graduate student Morgan Ilse placed 87th with a time of 21:21.6. The next Tar Heel to finish was redshirt junior Mady Clahane with a time of 21:32.9, good for 110th overall. With a time of 21:45.0, senior Erin Edmundson finished shortly after, placing 130th. First-years Lizzy Harding and Naomi Harding placed 161st and 164th, respectively. First-year Alex Morris wrapped it up for UNC's women's team with a 202nd-place finish.
Redshirt junior Mitch Resor led the men's team with a 56th-place finish in the men’s Blue Division 8K with a time of 24:29.5. Next, senior Jeremy Brown, with a time of 24:49.5 placed 95th and senior Brandon Tubby finished in 24:54.8, placing 107th overall. In 111th place, redshirt junior Alex Milligan ran a 24:56.2. Junior Jesse Hunt finished with 25:06.7 and placed 133rd. At 25:44.0, senior Matt Thornton placed 185th. Sophomore John Tatter rounded out the list at 27:59.5, good for 256th place.
In the women’s Open 6K, junior Emmeline Fisher finished 20th with a time of 22:14.7. Redshirt junior Luke Peterson's time of 26:09.9 meant he finished 43rd in the men’s Open 8K race.
Who stood out?
In the first 2,000 meters of the women’s Blue Division 6K, Hofstad placed 32nd. By the next 2,000 meters, she had climbed to 25th. By the end of the race, she continued to improve enough to secure a 19th-place finish.
Head coach Chris Miltenberg said Hofstad showed her aggressiveness and drive by asserting herself into the mix from the start, something the pair discussed after the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational earlier in October.
When was it decided?
For the men's team, the race wasn’t decided until the 5K mark in the men’s Blue Division 8K. The Tar Heels placed 16th in the first 3,000 meters, but fell to 17th place at 5,000 meters where they ultimately finished.
Despite a hot start, the women's team was unable to keep up the strong initial effort throughout the women’s Blue Division 6K. Through the first 2,000 meters, North Carolina placed 12th out of 37, but the Tar Heels slightly dipped to 13th in the following 2,000 meters before they dropped three more spots in the last 2,000 meters, placing 16th by the end of the race.
Why does it matter?
UNC raced against some of the best competition in the country, featuring nine ranked men's programs that included the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the nation. During the meet, the women's team faced 10 top-30 programs, including four teams from the top 10.
Miltenberg said North Carolina’s biggest improvement after Saturday's race was confidence and team-oriented running. Despite the deep field of competitors, UNC ran well and continued to push forward and believe in themselves more as the meet progressed.
When do they play next?
The cross country teams will have a little less than two weeks before they travel to Blacksburg, Virginia for the ACC Cross Country Championships on Friday, Nov. 1, at 10 a.m.
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