The North Carolina track and field team started the year strong in the Dick Taylor Carolina Cup in Chapel Hill on Saturday, edging out N.C. State, Duke and East Carolina. The competition saw both the Tar Heel men and women victorious with a 60-40 final over N.C. State on the women’s side and a 49-37 edge over Duke on the men’s side.
The first big performer — and perhaps most hyped coming into the meet — was Nicole Greene, who cleared an impressive 6-feet-2 inches in the women’s high jump. Not only did the jump add two inches to her personal best, but it was good for second in school history indoors and now leads the NCAA in this indoor season.
Greene says she's had her sights set on both a national title in March at College Station, Tex., and on breaking the school record she inched toward Saturday. She didn't quite get there, but she came close in the Tar Heels' first meet.
“I didn’t think that it would be so soon," said the junior from Ponte Vedra, Fla. "It's only up from here."
In the women’s 60-meter dash, sophomore Brianna Duncan brought the fireworks with a 7.38 in the preliminary round, which was good enough to break the existing school record in the event. Duncan wasn’t done there, though, crushing a 7.29 in the finals to better her own record and win the event.
Duncan said she's had a tendency to post a worse time after running a good preliminary. But she calmed herself Saturday and wrote her name into the record books.
“Once I got out the blocks, it was done,” she said.
As expected, redshirt freshman Marcus Krah came in meaning business. After an excellent resume prior to UNC, Krah ran a 7.92 in the 60-meter hurdles — good for the win, a top-10 time in the country, second in the ACC and top-five in school history. Oh, and it was his first collegiate race.
Krah also made it clear that while he’d love a fast time, the real goal is winning, even if he only runs a 7.92 again.
“I think I can, hopefully by the grace of God, win a national championship," he said.
In the longer distances, senior Caroline Alcorta was her old self, taking first place in both the mile and 3,000 meter runs. She was joined in the top two both times by junior Morgan Ilse. Ilse used the day as a tune-up and tried to help pace some of the younger runners in their first races of the season. The points Alcorta and Ilse brought to the team on the women’s side were crucial to the dominant margin of Saturday's meet.
Other notable Tar Heel performers:
Ryan Saint-Germain and Jadon Johnson took first and third in the men’s 200-meter with times of 22.46 and 22.51, respectively.
Amari DeVaughn and Brandon Cachon ran 49.73 and 50.28, respectively, in the 400-meter dash to take first and second.
Brodie Modini and Alex Milligan took first and second in the men’s 3,000-meter, running times of 8:27.09 and 8:27.88.
UNC went 1-2-3 with Darryl Shaw, Carson Pledger and RaeKwon Villines in the men’s triple jump.
The UNC women won the 4x400-meter relay, running 3:48.37.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a trip to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invite. Look for the team to continue to build on its fantastic start, with the potential for more school records to fall.