GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The University of North Carolina track and field teams opened competition on Friday at the Pepsi Florida Relays facing top competition from the collegiate nation and world qualifiers.
RJ Alowonle earned a personal best as the fourth-best collegiate in the 400-meter hurdles with his finish of 52.05.
O'Neal Wanliss raced 1:48.86 to place fifth in the 800, a mark that is less than half a second away from his all-time best in the event.
Dontrevious Ousley placed second in the discus, throwing 172-11 (52.71 meters) followed by AJ Hicks in third with a throw of 171-6 (52.28 meters). Hicks also placed ninth in the hammer throw reaching 179-4 (54.66 meters) in the field.
Jacinda Evans placed second to lead the women's effort with her long jump of 20-2 ½ (6.15 meters). In the long jump invitational flight, Chrishawn Williams placed third as the second-best collegiate with her clear of 19-11 (6.07 meters).
Cameron Overstreet placed fifth in the pole vault clearing 13-1 ½ (4.00 meters).
At the Duke Invitational in Durham, N.C., the Tar Heels showed a strong effort against ACC and NCAA East Regional-ranked competition, particularly in the distance events.
The men's 5,000 saw four personal records set with John Raneri leading the Tar Heels with his fourth-place finish in 14:07.22 followed closely by Matthew Valeriani in fifth with a personal best 14:08.29. Mark Derrick (14:25.17) and Scott Morgan (14:17.49) also earned PRs by shaving significant seconds off their previous marks.
"In the men's 5K there were some very good performances, most notable probably being Matt Valeriani with a near 24 second PR," said assistant coach Mark VanAlstyne after the first day of event, "It was perfect conditions for us with guys in there to set the pace fast but you still have to step up and battle and go hard. John had some huge moves and was battling right to the end."
Braedon Koerwitz was the top collegiate in the men's 3,000 with his second-place finish of 8:46.32. Kylie McCoy placed third in the women's 3,000 with 10:06.10, followed by Aundrea Holmes with a personal best 10:16.25 in eighth and Ashley Miess in 10:16.36 in ninth.
"Our 3K runners ran pretty solid, all were good performances," said Coach VanAlstyne, "Kylie and Ashley really only returned to running about three weeks ago and it's a race against time for them to get back before championships starts, but they are well on their way."
Annie LeHardy placed third in the 1,500 clocking in at 4:28.73.
"Annie gave a good effort," said Coach VanAlstyne, "When we looked at her race tactically, she ran it in a bit of an uneven fashion, it was like three or four little races in one. She's just trying to get better and I feel she is and will be a force in competition at ACCs in two weeks."
Cori Floyd won the opening heat of the 400-meter hurdles and placed sixth overall with her time of 1:03.68.
"She looked really good and was on form through about flight six of the hurdles," said Coach VanAlstyne about Floyd's race, "She feels like there is more room for improvement. It was a near PR for her in only her third hurdles race in college. She feels like she can technically improve over those last few hurdles and that will be a great performance for us later."
"We're just going to try to keep getting better and will look forward to what tomorrow brings for us on the track," added Coach VanAlstyne.
Carolina will finish competition on Saturday at the Duke Invitational. Live results are available.