CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of North Carolina track and field teams competed in the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame and Dennis Craddock Invitational in Chapel Hill today. It was a significant day for the track and field program as many records were set and former head coach Dennis Craddock was honored at the Dennis Craddock Invitational.
"Dennis Craddock had a phenomenal career here," North Carolina head coach Harlis Meaders said. "He actually recruited me out of high school, so I am one of his disciples. In his history he has over 45 ACC championships and been a part of three National Championships, but his biggest honor is that he played the role of mentor and coach for so many of us that were lucky enough to be here under his tutelage. He's a father; he's a friend; he's a coach. I have a lot of praise for what he's done. I'd like to thank all the boosters and the Rams Club for making the Dennis Craddock Invitational possible. It was a fantastic event."
The Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., held the greatest competition this week for the Tar Heels, but the team was prepared and came out very successful.
Freshman Ceo Ways placed first in the 200-meter dash at the prestigious Alex Wilson Invitational. His time of 21.16 is the fourth-fastest 200 time in UNC indoor history.
"I'm happy with my time but not content at all," Ways said. "It was a good race, but I know I have a lot further to go. From here on out I'm just trusting Coach Rubin and seeing how far we can go this season."
Sean Sutton set a new personal record in the 400 by breaking his outdoor PR by 0.01 seconds. His 46.81 time was good for third at the meet and also ranks as the fourth-fastest time in UNC indoor history.
Ways and Sutton helped the men's 4x400 continue their success this season by posting the nation's seventh-fastest time at 3:06.93, which ranks second in UNC's indoor history. RJ Alowonle and Javonte Lipsey were the other two legs of the 4x400 team that placed second at the Alex Wilson Invitational.
The women's distance-medley relay team competed at the Alex Wilson Invitational as well, posting a time of 11:12.47 which ranks 14th in the nation, just outside NCAA qualifying.
"The meet was a major step forward," North Carolina assistant coach Steve Rubin said. "Sean Sutton broke his outdoor PR in the 400, Ceo Ways won and became a national factor in the 200 and the relay was just incredible.
"Posting the second-fastest time in UNC indoor history is a great milestone for the 4x400 team, but what they really want is that school record, and they will be shooting for that."
Eight Tar Heels captured collegiate wins today at the Dennis Craddock Invitational in Chapel Hill. Three new lifetime bests were set at the meet as well.
"We had really solid performances here," Meaders said. "Kids started moving up the national list and solidifying their spots for ACC championships."
Sarah Howard continued her dominant season as she posted a new personal best on the way to a first place finish in the women's shot put. Her distance of 55-8 ½ (16.98 meters) is the nation's seventh-best shot put this year. Kayla Adams took second at 43-8 (13.31 meters).
"I was actually not even planning on throwing at this meet until about five o'clock last night," Howard said. "Coach [Meaders] talked me into it, so I guess that's a good thing. I opened up [the event] two centimeters short of my PR on the first throw and I ended up having five throws over 16 meters, so it was a really good day."
On the men's side Kwame Donyinah captured his first collegiate victory in the 400 running at a converted time of 48.16. Chris Reeder took home a victory in the 800 posting a converted time of 1:56.13. Richard Miller was able to defend the home track in the mile where he took first at a converted time of 4:12.49 and Stephen Mulherin placed third in the mile while setting a new PR at 4:20.10.
For the women Iman Wilkerson took first place in the 200 after posting a converted time of 25.08. Kendra Douglas was also able to capture a victory, but her victory came in the 400 when she ran a converted time of 57.64. Cameron Overstreet had a quick turnaround from yesterday where she placed second at the Virginia Tech Challenge in the pole vault at 13-3 ¼. She duplicated her performance at the Dennis Craddock Invitational and was able to take first. Amanda Benninghoff vaulted over 12-9 ½, her highest bar of the season, for second place.
Other Tar Heels who competed well were AJ Hicks, Dontrevious Ousley, Avana Story and Emily Godwin. Hicks took second in the men's weight throw at 63-11 (19.48 meters) while Ousley broke his old PR by more than four feet to take fourth at 55-10 ¼ (17.02 meters). Avana Story placed second in the women's weight throw at 60-7 ¾ (18.48 meters) and Emily Godwin was an inch short of her PR in the long jump at 18-3, which was good for third.
The Dennis Craddock Invitational also featured a friendly 4x400 challenge between the University's students in the ROTC program for their respective branches of the military. It was Air Force who came away with the win over Navy and Army.
"Above all else, I want to thank those guys for their service and for all they do, not only our community but for the U.S. as a whole. Those guys are the future leaders of America and it's really important for us to put those guys in the limelight every chance we get.
"I'd like to congratulate Air Force for winning the inaugural ROTC 4x400 challenge," Meaders said. "It was an excellent race. I think the fans got a big kick out of it and those guys competed really hard. It was an excellent event.
"That was one of our many endeavors we have to pull the UNC community into our track and field family. In the spring we will have the faculty mile and it will have a chance for professors and other employees of the university to run. I think it strengthens our bond with the academic community anytime we can get them engaged with us directly."
The Tar Heels will compete next at the ACC Indoor Championships at Clemson University in South Carolina. This will be the Tar Heels last opportunity to set NCAA indoor qualifying times.
"Everything has been leading up to the conference championship next week," Meaders said. "It's going to be an extremely tight race. When we look at the rough scores, those places from first to fifth are going to be separated by as few as 10 to 15 points. Our kids' significant improvements this week bode well for us. The competition is going to be stiff. If we simply do what we've done already, we'll put ourselves in a position to be very successful."