EARLYSVILLE, Va. - The North Carolina men's cross country team won the team title at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Saturday earning a low 58 points while the Tar Heel women finished ninth with 203 points.
"It was a pretty good day," said head coach Mark VanAlstyne after the meet, "I have to say the men's performance wasn't a surprise to us. We, the men themselves and the staff, know that this team has the potential to be good. Regardless of what the rankings said, we knew we'd be a factor in today's race.
"We wanted to stay the course, find out that we know how to hurt and keep racing," added Coach VanAlstyne, "On both of those accounts today was a success. The guys got at it, stayed after it even after it started to hurt. This is a very hard course and there's no way to understand it without racing it."
John Raneri was the top Tar Heel of the day for the men, taking fourth in the meet with a time of 23:53.6. This is an 8K cross country personal best for Raneri.
Next up for the Tar Heels was a pack of three in Pat Schellberg in an 11th-place 24:03.4, Joe Sansone in 12th in 24:03.7, and Ryan Walling in 13th in 24:05.1. Schellberg and Sansone each earned collegiate PRs in the race. Isaac Presson rounded out the top five finishing 18th in 24:09.3, also a personal best.
"I think as individuals they had good performances, but the big story overall was the team performance," said Coach VanAlstyne. "We had obviously a big race from freshman Joe Sansone mixing it up with guys like Pat Schellberg who was All-ACC for us last season. Everyone just did a fantastic job. I think the story today is the team performed together, they showed cohesiveness, and they showed they can be a threat."
"They took down some pretty good teams today: EKU, Virginia, Auburn," added Coach VanAlstyne. "We'll take it. It's a good place to be at this junction of the season. So tomorrow we're back to work getting stronger and more able to hurt at Wisconsin in three weeks."
The Carolina men's team beat out nationally ranked No. 11 Eastern Kentucky, who finished second with 76 points, and national No. 16 Virginia, who finished third with 101 points.
In the women's 5K race, Annie LeHardy led the Carolina women with her eighth-place finish in 17:14.7, a new cross country personal best. Lizzy Whelan was the second Tar Heel to cross the line in 16th in 17:30.2.
"I think the women took another step to where we need to be," said Coach VanAlstyne. "We had some good performances, notably Lizzy Whelan who continues to improve week in and week out as a cross country runner.
"Annie really had a tremendously hard week with some personal circumstances and just being on the line was a tremendous victory for her," added Coach VanAlstyne, "She led well and led the team for us."
Caleigh Bachop placed 46th in 18:21.6, Doria Kosmala placed 65th 18:40.6, and Grace Morken placed 78th in 19:06.1 to round the top five for the Carolina women. Also racing were Aundrea Holmes (81st, 19:08.8), Kylie McCoy (83rd, 19:13.6), and Caroline O'Hea (111th, 20:19.4).
"As we start adding some ladies back to the roster from injury we'll get better," said Coach VanAlstyne, "Of course the ladies who are running for us now are already getting better. I fully expect to be competitive by the end of the season."
Carolina will next race at the Wisconsin Invitational on Saturday, October 19th.
- 4th, 23:53.6
Pat Schellberg - 11th, 24:03.4
Joe Sansone - 12th, 24:03.7
Ryan Walling - 13th, 24:05.1
Isaac Presson - 18th, 24:09.3
Matt Valeriani - 24th, 24:16.7
Steve Magnuson - 39th, 24:38.2
Scott Morgan - 40th, 24:38.8
Stephen Mulherin - 70th, 25:28.3
- 8th, 17:14.7
Lizzy Whelan - 16th, 17:30.2
Caleigh Bachop - 46th, 18:21.6
Doria Kosmala - 65th, 18:40.6
Grace Morken - 78th, 19:06.1
Aundrea Holmes - 81st, 19:08.8
Kylie McCoy - 83rd, 19:13.6
Caroline O'Hea - 111th, 20:19.4