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'We take charge of what we’re doing': UNC track and field surges in Carolina Challenge


Junior Jill Shippee attempts her second throw in the women's weight throw. Shippee won the overall event by almost five meters in Eddie Smith Field House on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. 

When Chris Miltenberg came to North Carolina this offseason as the director of the cross country and track and field teams, he wanted to make UNC into a powerhouse in the ACC by being more aggressive, more team-oriented and running with more confidence.

On Saturday, this strategy produced results.

At the Dick Taylor Carolina Challenge, the first meet for North Carolina track and field this season, the Tar Heel men finished first and the women fourth against seven other teams. The Tar Heels also won six individual events.

“If we’re going to be the best team we can be, and be one of the best teams in the ACC and in the country over the next several years, that’s got to be our brand,” Miltenberg said. “That everywhere we go ... we take charge of what we can control, take charge of what we’re doing.”

The team received contributions from senior Daniel McArthur, winning the men’s shot put with a toss of 19.57 meters. In the men’s weight throw, McArthur placed third with a toss of 18.94 meters, a personal record.

The men’s team also saw senior Cameron Douglas qualify for the 60-meter dash finals after he won the preliminary with a time of 6.81 seconds. In that same preliminary, sophomore Qhiyal Towns qualified with a time of 6.84 and junior Dontavian Smith qualified for the finals with a time of 6.90.

Douglas later won the men’s 60-meter dash finals with a time of 6.79, which tied for the second-fastest time in UNC history. Towns and Smith finished second and third in the finals with times of 6.81 and 6.84, respectively.

Miltenberg praised the three athletes not because of their finishes, but because they pushed themselves on Saturday.

“I watched those guys, even from the prelim to the final, work on some things to get better,” Miltenberg said. “That’s what we want our team. Take charge of what you can control, and let’s get better every time out.”

Assistant coach Amin Nikfar, who also came with Miltenberg from Stanford this past season, shared Miltenberg's enthusiasm for the fresh season.

“Today, it showed (UNC is) just building a team culture,” Nikfar said. “Looking after each other and just making sure that everybody in the building that’s wearing Carolina Blue is getting taken care of, and remembering they’re in your family and you got to look out for them.”

The meet Saturday brought that family closer. And while there are things Nikfar wants to improve for throwers like McArthur and juniors Madias Loper and Jill Shippee, he’s optimistic about the season.

Shippee, who won the women’s weight throw by nearly five meters with a final score of 19.72 meters, said Miltenberg’s energy inspires confidence to the team.

“He definitely kind of teaches us be relentless — no matter what you’re going through, we may be the underdog in certain situations, but don’t act like it,” Shippee said. “Act like you belong there and know that you belong there too.”

While the first meet was a good start to the season, Miltenberg wanted the attitude to build throughout the rest of the year. 

“I think it’s the same thing, it’s just continuing every situation we’re in, whether it’s sprints, jumps, throws, distances," Miltenberg said. "Let’s be aggressive with what we can control. Take charge of the situation and just compete with, again, with being bold and aggressive.”


@DTHSports |

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