TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Annie LeHardy won All-America honors on Saturday at the 2013 NCAA National Championships for her 25th place finish in the women's 6K race. The Carolina men placed 17th in the team final, their highest team finish at the championships since 1985.
"We talked about it and we knew she was suited to this kind of course and if she got out in position she wouldn't get passed," said head coach Mark VanAlstyne after the All-America awards were given out. "It was a fantastic effort by Annie and I'm thrilled for her to get the All-America honor."
LeHardy, a junior, was in 41st at the 2K split and surged into the top 20 spots during the middle third of the race. She ultimately finished 25th in 20:37.3 to earn her first All-America honors of her collegiate career.
"On the stretch [Annie] was tremendously strong," said Coach VanAlstyne, "Getting top-25, bringing her back next year with Lianne Farber and the rest of the team, we're really looking forward to seeing what those guys could do in the future."
This was LeHardy's first time qualifying for the NCAA Championship as an individual, doing so with an automatic bid based on her performance at the NCAA Southeast Regional on November 15th.
"Overall it was a really good day. In the men's race we weren't paying attention to the rankings. We had aspirations to finish top 10 and we knew if we had a great race there was a shot," said Coach VanAlstyne, "I've got to hand it to the guys, we took a shot. We had three to four guys in the top 45 for most of the race.
The Tar Heel men competed in their first national championship meet since 1991, placing 17th. It was the team's highest finish since placing fifth in 1985, which was the highest team finish ever.
Leading the way for Carolina was Ryan Walling in 64th in 31:01.0. Next up for the Tar Heels was Pat Schellberg in 80th (31:09.0) followed by John Raneri in 88th (31:14.0). Closing out the top-five scorers were Isaac Presson (108th, 31:23.9) and Scott Morgan (155th, 31:50.2). The six and seven auxiliary slots for Carolina were Joe Sansone (219th, 32:33.7) and Matt Valeriani (243rd, 33:22.6).
"Isaac actually got knocked down in the first 2K and dropped about 100 spots," added Coach VanAlstyne, "He battled his way back up for the team over 80 spots. All of our guys battled today. To have the team finish 17th in their first year back after so long is pretty special. I'm really proud of these guys."
The Colorado men's team and the Providence women's team won the national titles. Oregon's Edward Cheserek and Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino won the individual crowns.
No records were able to be broken at the championships due to course conditions forcing the official start line to be moved up 110 meters.
Carolina's ResultsRyan Walling, 64th, 31:01.0
Pat Schellberg, 80th, 31:09.0
John Raneri, 88th, 31:14.0
Isaac Presson, 108th, 31:23.9
Scott Morgan, 155th, 31:50.2
Joe Sansone, 219th, 32:33.7
Matt Valeriani, 243rd, 33:22.6
Team: 17th, 403 points
Annie LeHardy, 25th, 20:37.3