CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University of North Carolina men’s and women’s track and field teams will return to competition this weekend following an off-week over the holiday break. The Tar Heels will split up this weekend, with 34 athletes headed to the Virginia Challenge in Charlottesville, Va., and 20 staying locally to compete in the Duke Invitational on the campus of Duke University. Both of this weekend’s competitions will take place from April 21 to 22.
“We’ve got a split group this weekend with half the group at the University of Virginia and the other half at Duke,” said UNC head coach Harlis Meaders. “We’re excited to be back in competition after a week off. We’ve had a solid week of training. We’re coming off some improved performances at the Tennessee Relays.”
Meaders continued, “We have an opportunity to face some really good competition again this weekend both at UVa and Duke. I think the team is prepared and anxious to get back to work. We’re getting closer to the championship part of the season and we’re starting to see some top-level performances come out of our kids.”
The Virginia Challenge provides North Carolina with a fantastic opportunity to compete against some of the nation’s best teams and see how they stack up with postseason competition on the horizon next month. The meet will feature 55 different teams, which includes eight teams that compete in the ACC (Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest). Five of the women’s team come into the event ranked in the NCAA Top 25 (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Miami), while six of the men’s teams are ranked (Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Syracuse).
Emily Godwin and Will Eskew will make their season debuts in the multi-events in Charlottesville this weekend. Godwin will compete in the heptathlon starting at 12 p.m. on Friday, while Eskew will begin the decathlon shortly after at 1:20 p.m. This will provide these athletes with a chance to participate in a full multi against a field stacked with elite talent prior to the ACC Outdoor Championships in May.
On Saturday evening, the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays will take place, and North Carolina’s squads look to improve upon their times and move up in the conference rankings. Currently, the men’s relay is ranked second and the women’s team is sixth in the ACC standings.
“We’re excited about the men’s and women’s relays again having great competition at here at UVa. The field events across the board are filled with some of the top talent in not only the talent but also in the country,” said Meaders.
The meet will feature 22 different events that will take place across the two days of competition at Lannigan Field. Day one of competition in the Virginia Challenge will kick off at 10 a.m. on Friday with the women’s hammer throw. Competition will resume at 9 a.m. on Saturday with the women’s 3000m steeplechase and conclude at 10:30 p.m. with the women’s 5000m run.
“Some of the top athletes in the country will be here in Charlottesville. It’s going to be an opportunity for us to take another step forward,” said Meaders.
While a majority of the team is competing at the Virginia Challenge, 20 athletes will return to the Morris Williams Track & Field Stadium to compete in the Duke Invitational. UNC will have athletes competing in the 11 different events, including the 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, hammer throw, long jump, triple jump, discus, shot put and javelin.
UNC will face more local competition in Durham, N.C., as 22 of the 41 competing schools reign from North Carolina. Two of the competing schools, including host Duke and nationally-ranked Virginia Tech, are fellow members of the ACC. Additionally, the meet will feature 16 different club teams, as well as a number of unattached athletes.
The Tar Heels will begin competition on Friday at 12 p.m., as Samantha Miller competes in the hammer throw. North Carolina will wrap up competition in the Duke Invitational on Saturday at 7 p.m., as Lucy Biles, Casey Greenwalt, Mady Clahane, Blair Ramsey, Henry Pehr, Connor Peeples and Noah Shore will compete in the 1500m.
Both meets will be live streamed on ACC Network Extra, with coverage for the Virginia Challenge starting at 7 p.m. on Friday and video of the Duke Invitational on both days of competition. The action in Durham can be viewed on Friday starting at 3 p.m., and on Saturday beginning at 3:30 p.m. Live stats for both meets will be available via FlashResults, which can be accessed here.
Over the course of the two meets, UNC hopes to get more athletes qualified for postseason competition by notching NCAA and ACC qualifying marks and times. Thus far, 25 athletes (16 women and nine men) have qualified for the ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championship by meeting the necessary marks and times.
Make sure to follow @unctrack_field on Twitter for live results of performances as they occur in Durham and Charlottesville this weekend. A recap of UNC’s performances at the Duke Invitational and Virginia Challenge will be posted on GoHeels.com following the conclusion of both meets on Saturday evening.