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Sunday February 28th

First-years lead UNC cross country in opening meet of the season

North Carolina's director of track and field and cross country program Chris Miltenberg attends the Dick Taylor Carolina Challenge in the Eddie Smith Field House on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati.
Buy Photos North Carolina's director of track and field and cross country program Chris Miltenberg attends the Dick Taylor Carolina Challenge in the Eddie Smith Field House on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati.

The North Carolina cross country team competed in its first meet of the shortened 2020 season at the Virginia Invitational on Friday. The women's team placed first and the men's squad placed third.

What happened?

Despite adverse weather and early rain, there were plenty of bright spots for both UNC teams.

First-year Sasha Neglia won the women’s 5k with a time of 17:01.4. Right behind her was senior Paige Hofstad who finished with a time of 17:15.7. Another Tar Heel claimed the fourth spot as senior Mady Clahane finished with a time of 17:22.3. Kelsey Harrington, another first-year, ran a 17:28.0, which earned her sixth place. In eighth place, senior Emmeline Fisher finished the 5k with a time of 17:31.3. First-year Sarah Trainor finished with a time of 17:31.6, good enough for ninth place. In 12th place, first-year Taryn Parks finished with a time of 17:41.2. Rounding out the Tar Heels finishers was junior Camryn Petit who ran a time of 18:17.5 and came in 21st.

The men did not have the same level of dominance in the 8k run, but still had standout performances. First-year Will Coogan led the men with a time of 24:24.0 and finished in seventh place. Thomas Ratcliffe, a graduate transfer from Stanford, made his North Carolina debut as he finished eighth with a time of 24:29.8. Senior Jesse Hunt finished with a time of 24:42.8 and earned 11th place. Sophomore Marshall Williamson finished close behind in 12th with a time of 24:43.4. John Tatter, a junior, finished with a 24:47.2 and earned 14th place. Following closely was first-year Max DiMuccio who ran a time of 24:53.7, which earned him 16th place. First-year Dolan Owens finished with a time of 25:44.3 and earned 28th place. Sophomore Jake Mceneaney soon followed as he finished 29th with a time of 25:44.6. First-year Michael Spragley finished in 32nd place with a time of 26:04.6 to close it out for the men’s team.

Who stood out?

New faces stood out for both the men's and women's teams on Friday. Making her collegiate debut, Neglia won the women’s 5k by a decisive 14 second margin. The women placed six runners in the top-10 — three of which were first-years — in what was a dominate showing for a fairly young group. 

Coogan, making his college debut, and Ratcliffe, debuting for UNC, led the men in the 8k with their respective top-10 finishes. 

When was it decided?

In the overall standings, the women ran away with the lead in large part due to the six Tar Heels who finished in the top-10. In the men’s race it was a close battle for second, and North Carolina found itself on the short end of the competition as they finished third with 52 points, losing out on second by a mere four points.

Why does it matter?

Head coach Chris Miltenberg’s 12-member recruiting class — his first class since being hired in June 2019 — displayed talent and led both North Carolina teams to success in what was just their first collegiate race. 

The early success came as no surprise from Miltenberg and he said the meet was a good indicator of the future for the program.

“They made everyone around them better, so it’s really exciting because that’s the first class we recruited and with the vision of where we want to go and what we’re going to do," Miltenberg said.

When do they play next?

North Carolina’s next scheduled meet is the ACC Tri-Meet in Cary, North Carolina set for Wednesday, Oct. 7.

 

@A_ReynoldsDTH

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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