The No. 13 North Carolina women’s cross country team placed first overall out of 22 teams in Battle in Beantown in Boston, Ma. on Friday afternoon.
The Tar Heels made key moves late in the race that helped put them on top. With a pack of runners on her heels, first-year Brynn Brown trailed just two runners heading into the last two kilometers of the five-kilometer race. Brown overtook the two runners ahead of her to take first place overall and only add one point to the Tar Heels’ score.
Junior Natalie Tyner and sophomore Sasha Neglia made significant moves late in the race that helped keep UNC’s team score low. Tyner beat seven of the opposing runners she trailed at the 3k mark, and Neglia edged four of the eight opposing runners she trailed after 3k. Tyner and Neglia’s late moves saved the Tar Heels a combined eleven team points, seven and four points, respectively.
UNC won the race in dominant fashion by only scoring 63 points. The next closest team, Providence, trailed the Tar Heels by 19 points with an overall score of 82.
Who stood out?
In her season and Tar Heels’ debut, Brown stole the show by placing first overall with a 5k time of 16:53. Tyner also played a key role in UNC’s first-place performance by finishing the race strong and passing seven opposing runners the in last 2k of the race on her way to a 17:36 5k.
Neglia also registered a strong performance with a 5k time of 17:17 that earned her 6th place overall.
Freshman Carlee Hansen and sophomore Kelsey Harrington rounded out the Tar Heels’ top five with times of 17:35 and 17:37, respectively.
When was it decided?
While the score shows that UNC dominated throughout, the Tar Heels didn’t have the number one spot secured until their late-race comeback performances.
Why it matters?
UNC’s performance in Boston showed the team how they compare to a significant chunk of the ACC and the rest of the region. The Tar Heels defeated ACC opponents Duke by 52 points, Syracuse by 103 points and Boston College by 138 points. They also convincingly beat many of the teams they’ll likely race in the NCAA Regional Championships.
This race also validated that Brown — a highly touted runner out of high school — can be an immediate and significant contributor during her first year in Chapel Hill.
The Tar Heels performance keeps the team undefeated through two races this season.
When they play again?
UNC has a long time to recover from its dominant victory in Boston before they head to Tallahassee, FL., to compete in the FSU XC Invite on Friday, Oct. 15.
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