CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of North Carolina cross country teams opened their 2013 season with wins at home on Saturday as they took on Campbell at the Joe Hilton XC Invitational. Matt Valeriani brought in the men's individual crown with the team scoring 18 and Annie LeHardy won the women's race with the team scoring 21.
"I thought it was just a nice beginning to the season, low-key. Campbell actually has a pretty decent team in their conference and we appreciate them coming over," said head coach Mark VanAlstyne after the races, "All in all we wanted to have a good effort, to represent UNC well in front of our hometown fans - it's not often that we get to do that in cross country - and come out of it healthy. It seems like we accomplished all of those."
In the men's race, Valeriani took the 5K in 14:46 followed by Stephen Mulherin who placed second in 14:48 to kick off the season. Pat Schellberg placed fourth in 14:50, Joe Sansone fifth in 14:51, and Ryan Walling sixth in 14:55.
"I wouldn't say that [Valeriani's] strength is the closing stages of any race, he's not know as a big kicker, but he certainly could have fooled some people out there today with his last 800 meters," said Coach VanAlstyne, "Freshman Joe Sansone looked great, blending right into our top five and I think he's going to continue to improve every week. All in all I was happy with how the day went."
Rounding out the men's finishes were John Raneri (15:00) in eighth, Scott Morgan (15:04) in ninth, Dan Mykityshyn (15:19) in 12th, Mike Jacobs (15:24) in 13th, Braedon Koerwitz (15:50) in 16th, Bryan Noreen (16:17) in 21st, and Chris Madaffari (16:21) in 22nd.
LeHardy took the top place for the women's race in 17:46. "It's obvious that Annie LeHardy has put in a great summer of training on the women's side," said Coach VanAlstyne, "She's extremely fit-looking and I know she's looking forward to a big cross country season. We look to her as our team leader on the women's side."
Lizzy Whelan placed third in scoring with a time of 18:35 followed by Caleigh Bachop in fourth, also in 18:35. Caroline O'Hea placed sixth in 18:46, Grace Morken in seventh at 18:46, and Aundrea Holmes in ninth at 19:17.
"[We] had some good individual efforts," said Coach VanAlstyne, "I think as a team as we get into the meat of our season, bigger meets, we need to get better across the board, but we saw some really good things out here today."
The Tar Heels will take the trails next at the adidas XC Challenge in Cary, N.C. at WakeMed Park on Friday, September 20, at 5:30 p.m.
Carolina's TimesMatt Valeriani - 1st, 14:46
Stephen Mulherin - 2nd, 14:48
Pat Schellberg - 4th, 14:50
Joe Sansone - 5th, 14:51
Ryan Walling - 6th, 14:55
John Raneri - 8th, 15:00
Scott Morgan - 9th, 15:04
Dan Mykityshyn - 12th, 15:19
Mike Jacobs - 13th, 15:24
Braedon Koerwitz - 16th, 15:50
Bryan Noreen - 21st, 16:17
Chris Madaffari - 22nd, 16:21