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The Daily Tar Heel

Several UNC track and field athletes give podium-worthy efforts at Penn Relays

Graduate student Jill Shippee throws at the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, VA, over the weekend of Jan. 21, 2022. Photo courtesy of Tom Connelly.

This past Thursday through Saturday, the North Carolina outdoor track and field team attended the 126th running of the Penn Relay— the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States. Out of the hundreds of events that occurred over the span of three days, several UNC athletes had impressive performances.

What happened?

Kicking off the first day of the meet at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa., graduate student Jill Shippee became the first Tar Heel to win the women’s hammer throw event at the Penn Relays. Shippee threw a personal-best distance of 228-10 (69.76m), setting the ACC record for this event.

Later that day, senior Marshall Williamson won the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase and finished with a time of 8:47.53, the fifth-best time for the event in UNC history. 

Yet another Tar Heel reached the podium to finish out the first day of competition when sophomore Craig Saddler II took third in the men’s 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.95 seconds.

On Friday, senior Madias Loper finished in third place in the men's shot put event with a distance of 57-1 (17.40m).

Later that day, redshirt senior Anna Keefer won her preliminary heat to qualify for the women's 100-meter finals with a time of 11.23 seconds — good for the UNC record.

Although she did not reach the podium in the 100-meter finals, Keefer once again dominated on the third and final day of the Penn Relays in women’s long jump. Keefer placed first after jumping a distance of 20-10.50 (6.36m).

The third day of competition saw two Tar Heels earn a podium finish for the javelin throw. Graduate student Madison Wiltrout won the women’s javelin event with a distance of 180-4 (54.96m), while senior Roman Mitchell earned a third place finish in the men’s javelin event with a distance of 231-7 (70.59m).

Also on Saturday, graduate student Obiageri Amaechi finished third in the women’s discus event with a distance of 177-2 (54m).

Who stood out? 

Although so many members of the UNC outdoor track and field team shined throughout this meet, Keefer and Shippee accomplished the most in their respective events. Both athletes broke records at the Penn Relays, as Shippee set an ACC record in the hammer throw and Keefer set a school record in the 100-meter dash.

Why does it matter?

In a historic competition with thousands of competitors and even more spectators, the Tar Heels’ success in the Penn Relays not only shows their outstanding ability on the big stage, but also their ability to perform well under pressure. The event also gave several Tar Heel athletes the opportunity to showcase how their abilities have grown over the course of the season.

When do they play next?

The UNC outdoor track and field team will be traveling to Liberty University on May 4 to compete in the Liberty Twilight meet, which is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. 

@dthsports |