Syracuse Men, North Carolina Women Claim 2014 ACC Cross Country Championships

(Photo by Sara D. Davis for theACC.com)

Martin Hehir and Liv Westphal win individual crowns

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EARLYSVILLE, Va. – The Syracuse men and North Carolina women captured the 2014 ACC Cross Country Championships Friday morning at Panorama Farms. 

Martin Hehir of Syracuse won the men’s individual championship, while Liv Westphal of Boston College claimed the women’s individual title. 

The Syracuse men scored 32 points, the lowest team total in seven years at the ACC Championships, to win its second consecutive title. The third-ranked Orange finished ahead of NC State and North Carolina, who finished with 90 and 95 points, respectively.

“We are a really deep team and we showed that today,” said Syracuse coach Chris Fox. “This is what we do, we are a cross country program first. We ran a comfortable race and our guys just fed off each other. We were very patient at the beginning and just let the race develop. This is our best team.”

Hehir won the men’s individual title in a time of 23:15.2, a Panorama Farms record, leading an Orange squad that had five of the top 11 finishers. Ernest Kibet of Louisville was second in 23:21.7 and Max Straneva of Syracuse was third in 23:23.1. 

“This is one of the hardest courses that we will run in college,” said Hehir. “This is a true cross country course. We have a team that has 10-11 guys who can really run. We really push each other. We had our whole team up front at the halfway mark and we used that momentum to carry us through the race. I'm really pleased with the way I ran.”

The North Carolina women scored 57 points to win its fourth ACC Championship and first since 2003. The 15th-ranked Tar Heels ended the six-year reign of Florida State as the No. 12 Seminoles finished second with 99 points and No. 13 Virginia finished third with 109 points.

“I think the key to today's championship was that our ladies believed in themselves,” said North Carolina coach Mark VanAlstyne. “They put team above individual and we ran a really great race. Our youngsters really stepped up today. We have some great freshman.”

Westphal won the women’s individual race to claim the Eagles’ first ACC cross country championship. She crossed the line in a time of 19:43.8, breaking the Panorama Farms course record by 14 seconds. Colleen Quigley of Florida State was second in 19:57.1 and Margo Malone of Syracuse was third in 20:01.6. Annie LeHardy was the top finisher for the team champion Tar Heels, placing fourth in a time of 20:09.5.

“I didn't have a great start because I fell down at the beginning,” said Westphal. ”I just got back up ran my race. Being one of the favorites coming in, there was a little more pressure than usual on me, but I like pressure. It was a challenging course and I am very satisfied with the way I ran.”