The North Carolina cross country competed in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships in Earlysville, Virginia on Friday. The women placed sixth and the men eighth, and with redshirt junior Paige Hofstad’s ninth-place finish in the women’s 6k she advanced to the NCAA Championships.
The women started the day in the 6k race and Hofstad led the women with a ninth-place finish and a time of 20:20.8.
Redshirt junior Mady Clahane ran a personal best in the 6k with a time of 21:08.7, good enough for a 32nd place. Closely behind, with a time of 21:12.8, was first-year Alex Morris, who finished 36th. Shortly after, senior Erin Edmundson finished 38th with a time of 21:14.0.
For the second straight event, redshirt junior Alex Milligan led the men, finishing 26th with a time of 30:44.5 in the 10k race. Sophomore Jesse Hunt wasn’t far behind; with a time of 30:47.8, he placed 29th. Senior Jeremy Brown placed 33rd with a time of 30:53.2.
The Tar Heels ran with the confidence head coach Chris Miltenberg wanted them to from the beginning, and the results reflected that. Friday marked the first top-10 finishes in NCAA Regional competition for both teams since 2015.
Who stood out?
Hofstad received first-team All-Region honors and became the first Tar Heel woman to advance to the NCAA Championship stage since 2014. Meanwhile, after missing the 2018 cross country season, Clahane clocked her best 6k time and the best finish of her collegiate career.
On the men’s side, five of the seven Tar Heels had the best individual finishes of their careers. Milligan, Hunt, Brown, Moini and Resor all placed in the highest spots in their NCAA regional careers in their first season under Miltenberg.
When was it decided?
The women settled into the sixth spot by the 2k mark, but at the halfway point of the competition climbed to fifth. But by the 5k, the Tar Heels fell back to sixth, where they later finished.
In the first 2k mark the men were in fourth place, then slipped to seventh at the 4k mark and remained there for majority of the race. At the 9k mark, they fell to eighth, where they eventually finished.
Why does it matter?
Miltenberg said his biggest focus for every meet this season was running with more confidence, and focusing on team-oriented running.
“What I was so psyched with on both sides: all seven people that competed, men’s and women’s side, they competed tough the entire way and kept it coming the entire second half,” he said.
Miltenberg added the offseason is about improving meet by meet and not focusing on the big picture immediately – being purposeful every day.
“What we did today sums up what we want to do for the next 365 days," the first-year head coach said. "Every single person, take where you are and keep coming and keep fighting.”
When do they play next?
Hofstad will compete at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana this Saturday. For the rest of the team, the cross country season is over.
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