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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC track and field opens season at Virginia Tech Invitational

Sydney Banks is pictured at a track and field invitational at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Tom Connelly.

The North Carolina track and field program opened its season this weekend in Blacksburg, Va. for the Virginia Tech Invitational.

What happened? 

Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams were relatively weak this weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational. The two-day event was the Tar Heels first test of the season and their low-standing results seems to be an indicator that the team still has a lot of work to do.

The women’s team proved strong in the field events with junior Sydney Banks finishing second overall in high jump with a jump of 5-5.25 (1.66m). Graduate pole vaulter Emerson Porter jumped 3.94m 12-11 and was seventh overall. 

In the long jump, graduate Anna Keefer’s 20-5.75 (6.24m) jump was not enough to overcome first place winner Charisma Taylor from Tennessee. While the All-American took silver in this event, there are still many opportunities for her to clinch a first place win. 

Senior Lauryn Hall and junior Kayla Hunt placed sixth and eight respectively in the women’s 200m dash both coming in at just under 25 seconds. Hall and Keefer were also members of the women’s 4x400m relay which placed fourth overall with a time of 3:47.66. They were joined by first-years Gwyneth Goldowski and Alyssa Hernandez.  

The men’s 4x400m relay team came in at 3:20.60 and fifth overall. Two-time all-American sprinter sophomore Craig Saddler II led off the relay with sophomore Mark Alkins finishing as the team’s anchor. Alkins also competed in the 1000m, coming in at a time of 2:34.75 while his teammate, senior John Gove, finished fifth overall at 2:27.85.

The men who competed in the mile all finished under 4:30 with first-year Colton Sands earning the bronze for his 4:08.28 time. 

Four athletes competed in the men’s weight throw with senior thrower James Joycey throwing the farthest out of his teammates with a distance of 66-3.25 (20.20m). On the women's side, Grace Wills placed 14th with a throw of 49-3 (15.01m). 

Who stood out? 

Loper made a statement showing his strength in the men's shot put where he threw 53-5 (16.28m), enough for a seventh place spot. The senior also did well in the weight throw finishing eleventh overall with 54-7.25 (16.64m).  

In addition to his swift start in the 400m relay, Saddler II also stood out for his performance in the men’s 300m where he ran 35.54. 

Potts finished third overall in the pole vault achieving a height of 13-5 (4.09m). This was a lifetime best from Potts and it is tied for fourth-best in UNC women’s high jump history. 

Junior pole vaulter Ben Finger was the top collegiate competitor this weekend setting a personal best with his height of 16-10.75 (5.15), placing him ninth in UNC program history.

When was it decided? 

Since this meet was the first of the season, there were no points indicating which team came in first place, but it was made clear that these Tar Heels have an idea of their strong area. However, they will need to put a lot more effort into other areas if they hope to be a contender for ACC Indoor Championships in February. 

Why does it matter?

Early on, the team seems to still be struggling to put the pieces together, however with a more complete and healthy roster they should expect to take a more competitive and aggressive stance as the season progresses. 

This season, the team will face all of their competition on the road, meaning that they must bring both physical and mental toughness onto each track they step onto. 

When do they play next? 

This team will be back in Blacksburg next weekend for the Hokie Invitational, where the Tar Heels are scheduled to compete on both Friday and Saturday.  

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