Photo courtesy UNC Athletic Communications
Both the North Carolina men’s and women’s cross country teams opened the season Saturday at the Elon Opener. The first meet of the season was a chance for young runners to get some experience racing and for the older runners that did compete to get a good effort in for the day. Both teams finished 2nd in their respective races, both led by sophomores with fifth-place finishes.
The men were the first on the course for their 6-kilometer race. After Campbell –a team with nationally notable and veteran talent– swept the top four, the Tar Heels were able to place four men in the top 10 themselves, led by redshirt freshman Mitch Resor with his 18:30 performance, at a pace of just under 5 minutes per mile. Also in the top ten were Logan Carroll, Brandon Tubby, and Alex Milligan, who all finished within 11 seconds of each other to take 7th, 8th, and 9th respectively. The fifth and final point scorer for the team was Matt Thornton in 12th place at 19:06, bringing UNC to their 2nd place finish. In all, the Tar Heels had nine runners who all were able to place in the top 30.
Next up, the women took the course to run their 4 kilometer race. Competing without top returners Morgan Ilse and Caroline Alcorta, sophomore Mady Clahane led the way with a 5th place finish in 14:47, which works out to being under 6 minutes per mile. She was joined in the top 10 by fellow sophomore Erin Edmundson in 10th only five seconds back. Redshirt junior Casey Greenwalt finished one second behind Edmundson in 11th place. Sophomore Blair Ramsey took a 13th place performance finishing in 14:55. Rounding out the top 5 was first year Lindsey Lanier in 23rd who was closely followed by redshirt junior Emma Astrike-Davis just three seconds later in 24th place. Sophomore Ashley Smith rounded out the seven who competed on the day in 27th place. This was all good enough for a 2nd place finish for the women’s team as well.
Both teams showed not only the growth they have made but the room still left for improvement as they come in with high expectations. The women’s team especially should look forward to the return of Caroline Alcorta after an injury-plagued 2016 season and Morgan Ilse’s debut adding to their success as the season moves on. The men’s team is still one with great youth with a high ceiling that should allow for them to only get better from here.
Next up UNC cross country will toe the line in the mountains, in Boone, for the Mountains to Sea Open on September 16th. Look for the teams to have similar, if not improved success at that meet.