BOONE, N.C. - The North Carolina men's and women's cross country teams opened their 2012 campaign with third-place finishes at the Covered Bridge Open hosted by Appalachian State.
Sophomore Sami Jorgensen lead the women's squad with her fourth-place finish, running the 5K in 18:36.6, immediately followed by junior Malia Cali in fifth at 18:42.3 and redshirt junior Ashley Miess in seventh at 18:46.1 to round off the three top-10 finishes for Carolina.
"Sami ran a conservative race, which was the plan, and it showed in the end as she was able to storm past a lot of people between the second and third mile," says head coach Mark VanAlstyne. "Mali looked good but was maybe a little too aggressive in the early going. We don't quite have the sharpness to run that kind of plan just yet, but we absolutely will in the coming weeks."
All of the Tar Heel women finished in the top half of the runners, including sophomore Kylie McCoy in 12th at 19:05.0 and freshmen debuts for Caroline O'Hea in 25th at 19:59.0 and Aundrea Holmes in 26th at 20:02.9. Because of unattached runners competing, the Tar Heel women were credited with the 21st- (O'Hea) and 22nd-place (Holmes) finishes for the team final.
"Kylie, Ashley and our freshmen looked really good," says Coach VanAlstyne, "We looked strong and I was pleased with how everyone ran."
Sophomore Dan Mykityshyn and freshman Stephen Mulherin took top-10 performances for the men's team, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. Mykityshyn ran in the 8K in 25:32.6 and Mulherin was just a tenth of a second behind at 25:32.7.
"I was really pleased with the performance by Dan, he had one of the best closes to a race of anyone out there today," says Coach VanAlstyne, "In his last half mile he passed four or five guys easy and I was very happy about that.
"Stephen looked great, too, and I thought for a while he had a chance to win it," adds Coach VanAlstyne, "I knew he would do very well because he has had great work-outs since getting back to campus."
Freshman Mark Derrick debuted for the Tar Heels with a top-15 finish taking 13th in 25:55.6 while sophomore Braedon Koerwitz placed 19th in 26:14.1. Newcomers Macon Gambill and Richard Miller finished 41st and 46th, respectively, in 27:31.8 and 27:52.7. Due to unattached runners competing in the meet, the Tar Heel men were credited with the 12th- (Derrick), 18th- (Koerwitz), 30th- (Gambill) and 31st-place (Miller) finishes for the team final.
"Overall this was exactly what we wanted," says Coach VanAlstyne, "It gave us an opportunity to look at the younger runners and see who hasn't raced for Carolina in a while. I think when we add in everyone who didn't race for us today we will be competitive with anyone in the ACC, especially with the kind of workouts the rest of the team that didn't run had today."
The No. 4 Florida State women and the No. 10 Florida State men swept the meet, followed by the host Appalachian State taking second on both sides. East Tennessee State and Northern Kentucky also competed, the ETSU women finishing fourth and the ETSU men finishing fifth while the NKU women finished fifth and the NKU men finished fourth.
Carolina will compete next at the adidas Invitational in Raleigh at WakeMed Park on September 14th.