GAINESVILLE, FLA., - The University of North Carolina track and field teams had a tremendous between three separate meets. Several personal records and national top times were set by North Carolina student-athletes at the Florida Relays, Stanford Invitational and the VertKlasse Meet.
"What a great first day in the sunshine state," North Carolina head coach Harlis Meaders said. "Freshman Ceo Ways from Florida had a great homecoming. He was great today running personal bests in both the 400-meter and the 200-meter. He really set the tone for the day."
Ways was terrific Friday, breaking into the top-five all-time lists at UNC in the 200 and 400. Both of his runs were personal bests and top-10 national times this year. In the 400, Ways ran through the finish line at 45.93 setting the fifth-fastest 400 time in UNC history. After stamping his name into one record, Ways put his name in UNC's record books again in the 200 where he ran a blazing 20.56, which is good for second all-time. Ways finished eighth at the meet in the 400 and sixth in the 200. His time in the 400 beat all previous national times this year.
RJ Alowonle posted a top-five national time in the 400-hurdles and set a new collegiate best at 50.44. Alowonle also put his name in UNC's record books by recording the third-fastest time. Alowonle finished seventh in the event. Javonte Lipsey also ran and posted a fast time of 51.55 and finished 12th despite having some issues running towards the end.
"The guys in the 400-meter hurdles ran really well," Meaders said. "RJ set a new collegiate best in a very good field of runners and Javonte was on course to run a spectacular time but had some trouble in the home stretch. It's really early for both of those guys, but they are going to be big players for us later in the year."
Cory Nicholls ran 1:49.88 in the men's 800 placing 12th. This is the second week in a row that Nicholls ran below 1:50.
Karley Rempel took fourth in the women's 1,500 and posted a time of 4:21.95. Mattie Blue also ran in the 1,500 and set a new PR at 4:31.56.
Chris Reeder competed on the men's side of the 1,500 where he also set a new PR at 3:52.99 and finished 11th.
Sarah Howard took ninth in the women's discus and threw for a personal best 149-1 (45.50 meters).
Houston Summers finished the javelin throw on Friday in ninth placing after throwing 204-9 (62.41 meters).
Mitchell McLeod and Stephen Mulherin finished ninth and 10th respectively in the men's 5,000. Both men set PRs that were 15 seconds faster or more than their previous PRs. McLeod timed in at 14:42.66 while Mulherin was just 0.20 seconds off his teammate at 14:42.86.
Caroline Brailsford tied her collegiate PR in the pole vault and took 11th at the meet. Brailsford cleared 12-9 ½ (3.90 meters).
"Caroline did really well tying her personal record today." Meaders said. "She's done really well as a freshman and we're hoping she'll break 13 feet this year.
"It's really important for our kids to come to a meet of this magnitude to compete against some of the best programs in the country. In some cases it shows us that we can compete head-to-head with the top teams and in other places it shows us how much we need to improve. Both are lessons that will help us become a stronger team as the season moves on."
While most of the team was in Florida for the Florida Relays, a select few were invited to the Stanford Invitational where the Tar Heels didn't disappoint.
Isaac Presson took first in his section of the men's 5,000 and posted a PR of 13:52.93. His time now ranks as the fourth-fastest in UNC history. Presson now has his name stamped on five different top-five marks in UNC's all-time record books between indoor and outdoor track and field. Teammate Pat Schellberg was not far behind Presson and finished fourth in the same section. Schellberg crossed the finish line at 13:55.77, a personal best. Schellberg's time is the fifth-fastest time in UNC history.
Lizzy Whelan competed against the nation's best in the women's 1,500 where she took third in her section after setting a new PR at 4:18.
Steve Magnuson finished eighth in his section of the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at 8:59.18.
"Once again this meet provided unbelievable competition in every event," assistant coach Mark VanAlstyne said. "I was really pleased that Steve, Lizzy, Isaac and Pat took advantage of that and competed well, running times that are certain to get them into NCAAs. Now we can focus on preparing for ACCs, and after that, it's finals and on to the post season."
Some student-athletes stayed within North Carolina to compete this weekend as part of the team traveled to the VertKlasse Meet in High Point.
Caroline O'Hea finished second overall in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase and timed in at 11:14.03. She was the fastest collegian in the field.
Paul Haley took third in the high jump, Kylie McCoy finished fourth in the women's 5,000, Zach Gray finished fourth in the javelin and set a new personal record at 173-7 (52.92) and Bryan Noreen took fifth in the 5,000.
All three meets continue on Saturday. A recap of performances and full results for each meet will be available on GoHeels.com at the conclusion of the day. You can find a link to live stats on GoHeels.com as well.