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Ahead of ACC Championships, UNC makes final tune-ups at VT Challenge, DMR Invitational

track and field spring relay Isaiah Palmer
UNC sprinter Isaiah Palmer prepares to run during the Men 4x400 Relay in the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup at Eddie Smith Field House on Sat., January 13, 2019.

While some of the UNC track and field team traveled to compete in the JDL DMR Invitational in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the others headed to Blacksburg, Virginia, to compete in the Virginia Tech Challenge on Friday and Saturday. Two athletes finished their events with season bests, while another finished second overall in their event.

What happened?

On Friday, first-year Isiah Travis placed second overall in the men’s 600 meters at the VT Challenge. He finished with a time of 1:20.68.

The second day of the challenge, brought on several more field events for the Tar Heels. For two pole vaulters, Saturday ended in season bests. Sophomore Ben Finger finished seventh in the men’s pole vault, and senior Emerson Porter finished ninth in women’s pole vault. 

Over at the JDL DMR Invitational, UNC's men’s indoor distance medley relay team set a program record, while the women’s indoor distance medley relay team placed fourth.

Who stood out? 

Finger and Porter were the only two athletes who competed for the team on Saturday, although they both made the most of their performances, earning season bests.

Finger is a sophomore from Dallas, North Carolina, who has been on the team since last season, but his first indoor season was cut short due to an injury. This is his first time competing in a regular season since the start of COVID-19. Finger finished with a height of 4.92 meters.

Porter is a senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, who was a competitive gymnast for 13 years but decided to try track and field her junior year of high school. Clearly, it stuck, and Porter was able to secure a spot on the UNC team after she graduated high school. Porter finished with a height of 3.89 meters. 

Travis was the standout for the Tar Heels on Friday. A three-time state medalist in high school, this is his first season competing with the Tar Heels. He placed second in the men’s 600 meters final on Friday. 

The JDL DMR Invitation men's team that set a UNC record consisted of Thomas Ratcliffe, Isaiah Palmer, Allen Siegler and Brandon Tubby. They finished with a time of 9:38.96, placing third and beating a school record.

The women’s relay team consisted of Emmeline Fisher, Maiah Walker, Erin Edmundson and Taryn Parks. They finished with a time of 11:22.27, placing fourth.

Why does it matter?

Due to a shortened indoor season, the Virginia Tech Challenge and the JDL DMR Invitational were the last meets for the Tar Heels before they compete at the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championships, serving as a final tune-up before the tournament.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will travel to Clemson, South Carolina, from Feb. 25 through Feb. 27 in the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships to wrap up the end of the Tar Heels' indoor season.

@dthsports |

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