When Chris Miltenberg became the director of the North Carolina cross country and track and field programs last June, his goal was to make UNC a contender in the ACC.
With the addition of four graduate transfers, the teams have a chance to improve on a promising first season under Miltenberg.
North Carolina gained commitments from Stanford's Alex Ostberg and Thomas Ratcliffe, Yale’s Allen Siegler and Princeton's Conor Lundy. These graduate transfers all bring their own individual success into a UNC program looking to improve its national standing.
“They’re going to make a big impact on the track, but more than anything, they’re going to accelerate the culture we’re trying to build and talk about making Chapel Hill the epicenter of distance running in the United States," Miltenberg said. "I know that’s a far-fetched vision right now — we’ve got a lot of work to do to get there — but I think these guys making this decision shows that we can get there.”
Ostberg is a five-time All-American — earning three in cross country and two in indoor track — and gained All-Region and All Pac-12 honors three times in cross country at Stanford. Ostberg was an integral part of the 2017 and 2018 Cardinal cross county teams that won the Pac-12 championships and placed top five at the NCAA Championships.
Ratcliffe was the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and earned first team All-American honors with a third place finish in the 5,000 meters at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
During his four years at Princeton, Lundy was named All-Region from 2016 to 2018. Lundy was a runner-up in the Ivy League indoor 5,000 meter race in 2017, the outdoor 5,000 in 2018 and the outdoor 10,000 in 2018.
Siegler's success at Yale included qualifying for the 2019 East Preliminaries at 1,500 meters and running a speedy 4 minutes, 6 seconds mile.
Miltenberg said Siegler's improvement over the years was an admirable trait, especially for a runner who entered college as a low-profile recruit.
“What that says to me, and having coached in the Ivy League, I have such appreciation for guys that have done what Allen has done," Miltenberg said. "Which is go there as an under-the-radar recruit and commit to owning it and developing into a national class guy.”
Miltenberg said he believes all four runners bring levels of success and maturity that will help push the teams further in the direction he wants the programs to go.
When Miltenberg spoke with Ostberg and Ratcliffe, he said he did not formally recruit them because he knew it would be hard for both runners to leave Stanford, in the same way it was hard for him to leave for Chapel Hill the year prior. But, he did tell them he would help them train to improve and explained his goals for UNC to them.
“What we’re going to do is develop world-class athletes and put guys on Olympic teams, and we’re going to disrupt the entire establishment in the ACC and NCAA" Miltenberg said. "I want to break that thing up, I want to break that party up, and they know I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t know I was certain we could do it.”
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