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Two Tar Heels record season bests for UNC track and field at Hokie Invitational

Alex Milligan Raleigh Relays
Redshirt first-year Alex Milligan runs in the 1,500-meter at the Raleigh Relays on March 30.

First-year Sydney Banks won her second consecutive women’s high jump, leading the Tar Heels in a two-day outing for the North Carolina track and field team at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., on Friday and Saturday.

What happened?

North Carolina traveled light — only 11 members from the team competed in the weekend competition — but still performed well in the events UNC took part in.

Friday was the busiest day for the Tar Heels, and they had some impressive showings from multiple athletes. Junior Emerson Porter and first-year Jaren Holmes highlighted the field events for UNC. Porter finished seventh in the women’s pole vault with a mark of 3.98 meters, matching her indoor personal best. Holmes set a personal record in the men’s triple jump with his leap of 15.37 meters, good enough for second place.

In the running events, two Tar Heels ran season-best times in the men’s mile. First-year Michael Spragley placed fifth in the third heat with a time of 4:19.29, and first-year Dalton McGlamery placed third in the fourth heat with 4:24.59, both season bests.

In the men’s 1,000 meter, redshirt junior Brandon Tubby finished fifth with a time of 2:24.99. Shortly after, redshirt junior Alex Milligan ran in 2:25.37 and finished seventh. In the second heat, sophomore Jesse Hunt rounded out the event for UNC with a time of 2:26.27, good enough for third place in his heat.

Banks' victory in the women’s high jump with 1.73 meters highlighted Saturday’s performances for North Carolina.

Other notable performances in the field were first-year Matthew Harris and senior Zay Paschall in the men’s long jump. Harris finished fourth and Paschall sixth with jumps of 7.28 meters and 7.09 meters, respectively. Harris competed in the only running event on Saturday for North Carolina as he finished third in the fourth heat with a time of 22.59 in the men’s 200 meter.

In the men’s pole vault, first-year Ben Finger tied for 13th with 4.67 meters.

Who stood out?

Holmes set a personal record in the men's triple jump and three other Tar Heels matched or broke their season bests at the Hokie Invitational. It was an impressive all-around performance by North Carolina over the weekend.

When was it decided?

The men’s 1,000 meter was so close that the time between Tubby’s fifth-place finish and Milligan’s seventh-place finish was less than 0.4 seconds.

For Banks, she edged out second place in the high jump by two inches in a narrow victory, proving how many of the competitions came down to the wire for North Carolina.

Why does it matter?

Associate head coach Michael Eskind walked away from the meet pleased with the team's performance and the early success.

“It was a pretty impressive weekend just from the steadiness of the performances and the way the kids competed,” Eskind said. “So, I mean that’s been the nice thing so far is that we don’t have one specific person just to highlight; it’s kind of everybody across the board handled their business.”

Eskind also emphasized how UNC's results in the Hokie Invitational can boost the team's confidence levels going forward.

“I think that’s the big thing is gaining confidence with kind of understanding what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to execute, and I’d say, across the board, we’re getting better and better at it.”

When do they play next?

North Carolina travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the two-day Power Five Invitational set to begin Friday, Jan. 31, at 11 a.m.

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