EUGENE, ORE., - RJ Alowonle and Xenia Rahn both earned All-America honors today at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Alowonle finished fifth in the men's 400-meter hurdles while Rahn took eighth in the women's heptathlon.
"I'm really proud of all the kids who competed today," North Carolina head coach Harlis Meaders said. "RJ and Xenia both placed and scored for the team and it's just a reflection of the hard work that both the kids and the coaches have put in. We are fortunate that we will have both of them next year and we hope to bring a deeper team next year. Isaac Presson ran a terrific race at the Championships, only three seconds off his PR in an extremely talented field, so I think he did an excellent job.
Alowolne, a sophomore from Cottage Grove, Minn., finished his sophomore campaign by placing fifth in the 400 hurdles and becoming the second Tar Heel to earn First Team All-America Honors in the event. Alowonle ran 51.06 in the final and earned the men's team four points.
"I am a little disappointed with the finish," Alowonle said. "The race that I planned to run just wasn't there for me today. But I am so grateful and unbelievably blessed to have been given this opportunity to race at such a historic venue with such great competitors. I am hoping to use this as motivation for the years to come, and hopefully I can build off of this year's performance. I want to thank God, my family, my coaches, my teammates and everyone who has supported me throughout my career."
"I'm so proud of RJ," Alowonle's coach Steve Rubin said. "In his first trip to the Outdoor NCAA meet he places fifth and becomes an individual All-American. The race didn't go quite as planned, but he kept working and fighting like he's done all year and go the result. This is only a start for him and we're all super excited."
Rahn, a junior from Hamburg, Germany, competed in her first NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in a Tar Heel uniform these past two days and finished with one point for the women's team. Rahn ended the competition with 5,558 points, 20 shy of the school record set by current coach Nicole Hudson. Rahn earned First Team All-America Honors and is the first to do so since Hudson finished sixth in 1992.
Rahn entered the day with 3,307 points and jumped 18-10 ½ (5.75 meter) in the first event today and earned 774 points. In the javelin Rahn threw 139-3 (42.45 meters) and earned 714 points. In her last event Rahn ran 2:24.56 in the 200 and earned 763 points.
"I'm very excited about the result," Rahn said. "Overall the condition weren't as good as I was hoping for which made some events - like the long jump - tougher than they should have been. The fact that my hard work still paid off and I set a new personal record makes me very happy and super excited for next year. I'm very thankful for Coach Langley's help and his belief in me. This is a nice way to end the season, both for me and for the coaches."
"Words don't do justice to how proud I am of Xenia today," Rahn's coach Josh Langley said. "She did not have a good long jump and her first two throws in the javelin were not great either. She showed her experience and had a nice third throw that moved her into sixth place going into the 800. That's the multis though, you have to manage the ups and downs and she did a great job of that these last two days."
Isaac Presson, a senior from Asheville, N.C., finished his collegiate career by placing 13th in the men's 5,000. He ran 13:55.55 and earned Second Team All-America honors. Presson's decorated collegiate career includes owning six different top-five times in school history.
"I'm really proud of Isaac," Presson's coach Mark VanAlstyne said. "I think he followed our gameplan. We knew some of the best NCAA 5k runners in history were in the race. We thought that it would go out pretty fast but then there would be an opportunity to move up and there was but just not as much as we hoped.
"Whenever you run within two to three seconds of your PR in a championship setting it says something about your level of performance that day. 13th isn't what we were hoping for coming in, but I'm still very proud of him. He's going to leave a big leadership hole on our team. I've asked him to do a lot of things over the past two years and he's delivered on all accounts. It's going to be tough to replace him and we're going to miss him a great deal."
The only Tar Heel left to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships is Sarah Howard. The sophomore will throw in the women's shot put tomorrow at 1 PT and is in the second heat.
A recap of performances and results will be available on Goheels.com at the conclusion of the day. Follow the team's Twitter account (@UNCTrack_Field) for instant updates.