DURHAM, N.C. — Five North Carolina track and field throwers recorded career bests despite rainy conditions at the Duke Invitational over the weekend.
Facing over 60 other teams, several Tar Heels reached the podium over the course of three days at Duke's Morris Williams Track and Field Stadium. UNC's throwing squad was the highlight of the weekend, starting off the invitational strong on Thursday with impressive performances in the discus and hammer events.
Four different first-years set personal records in their respective hammer and discus events. In the women’s discus competition, both first-year thrower McKynzie Mauney and first-year thrower Skyler Bohlman placed in the top 10. Mauney, who placed sixth, threw 47.42 meters, while Bohlman, who placed ninth, threw 46.66.
In the hammer event, first-year thrower Gracie Bolick threw a 56.07 on her first attempt, putting her in tenth place while also recording a lifetime best.
First-year thrower Spencer Williams placed seventh in the men’s discus competition after throwing a 51.80. Later in the competition, Williams placed third in shot put with a personal best of 16.53 despite facing rainy conditions.
“I just tried to stay loose in my mind and in a good place, try not to get distracted,” Williams said. “I think I just tried to stay warm to the best of my ability and then stay somewhat dry.”
UNC throwing coach Amin Nikfar said the team did its best to prepare for the rainy conditions that belted the track this weekend.
“Conditions are one of those things that we don’t get to control. We have to be prepared for them,” Nikfar said. “We got to be ready to go, you know, whether there’s you know rain, snow, wind, whatever.”
Along with the first-years, the team's veteran athletes impressed despite the elements. On his last throw of the competition, senior thrower Troy Yearwood climbed to the top of the men’s hammer event leaderboard after throwing a 67.18. Not only did this score mark a personal record for Yearwood, but it was also the fourth-best distance in program history.
Despite the impressive score, Yearwood said he still has lofty goals to fulfill in his fifth collegiate season.
“I’m happy with the result. However, I know that’s not it,” Yearwood said. “Even on that throw and the throw before, which was also a lifetime best, they felt good but they didn’t feel like all I had.”
The UNC throwers will look to build upon the success it found this weekend as the team enters a final month-long stretch before the ACC and NCAA outdoor championships. Yearwood, who was a second-team All-ACC selection last year, will likely have one last shot to make his mark on the national stage.
Nikfar said that while he was proud of his squad's performances over the weekend, it came as no surprise given the consistent work that the team has been putting in all season.
“I think it’s really cool to hear the tape measure get read, hear the mark get read and having the appeal but this is also stuff that we’ve seen coming,” Nikfar said. “We don’t view it as a breakthrough necessarily. We see it as an output to the good input that we have been inserting.”
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