* Sasha Neglia (far left) and Taryn Parks (right) were a pair of freshmen that were impact-scorers for the Tar Heels in their college debuts
Photo Credit: UNC Athletics
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Over four years at Dobyns Bennett High School, Sasha Neglia built quite a storied career on Tennessee soil, amassing three state cross country titles, three national cross country championship qualifications and three top 25 finishes in those events.
So perhaps it's not so surprising that Neglia was on fire in her first collegiate meet for the University of North Carolina on Friday.
Neglia paced the Tar Heels on the University of Virginina's Panorama Farms course with a winning time of 17:01.40 for 5K, helping UNC score its first win of the season over the Cavaliers and Wake Forest.
For her effort, she was named the NCAA Division I women's Athlete of the Week on Tuesday by the USTFCCCA.
But she wasn't alone.
Neglia was one of four freshmen finishers for UNC's top 10. Virginia High School grad Kelsey Harrington was sixth overall in 17:28.00, FDR alum Sarah Trainor was ninth in 17:31.60 and Greencastle-Antrim gradute Taryn Parks was 12th overall in 17:41.20.
Virginia freshman Anna Workman was seventh overall in 17:30.5.
Meanwhile, in the men's 8K race, another freshman took center stage inside the top 5 ... only for another team
Rockhurst (MO) alum Wes Porter was the only freshman inside the top five, scoring a finishing time of 24:15.40, though he was followed by Bryson Crites in sixth and Loudoun Valley gradute Kellen Hasle in 10th.
Tar Heels freshman William Coogan, a graduate of Philips Exeter Academy (NH), led the way for the UNC with a seventh-place finish in 24:24.00.
Wake Forest first year Luke Tewalt, a graduate of Washington Latin Public Charter, was ninth overall in 24:33.7.
A Selection Of North Carolina's Star Freshmen Women Debut:
While we did not see the collegiate debuts of North Rockland legend Katelyn Tuohy or Northern all-timer Marlee Starliper on Saturday at the VT Invitational in Blacksburg, Virginia, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the 6K openers of North Carolina State's women.
Photo Credit: NC State Athletics
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Fayetteville-Manlius graduate Claire Walters posted the top freshmen placement overall, authoring a 12th-place finish in her season and collegiate debut, claiming a time of 21:51.7 at her first foray at the distance.
Liverpool's Jenna Schulz was next in line, finishing 16th (22:00.9), while Laurel Black was 20th and Gionna Quarzo was 24th (22:26.6)
Charlotte Tomkinson, a 2020 Menlo School gaduate, was the next freshman to finish and was 15th overall for Duke in 21:57.30.
Meanwhile, on the men's side, Panther Creek's Ian Harrison was one of two NC State freshmen inside the top 10, finishing eighth in 25:08.1. Brett Gardner, formerly of Lincoln-Way East (IL), was 10th in 25:13.7.
Battle Of Beantown Throwdown:
A total of six freshmen women finished in the top 10 of the Battle of the Beantown 5K at the Coogan XC Course in Attleboro, Massachussetts on Saturday, though none were more surprising than the pair of West Point first-years leading the way in third and fourth.
Perhaps that offseason training -- in all senses of the word -- is truly paying off for Georgia Jones, a 2020 graduate of Southegan, and Helen Shearer, a 2020 alum of Hampden Academy (ME).
The pair went 17:45.8 and 17:49.8, respectively, en route to a second-place team finish.
However, it was the Syracuse women, paced by three freshman in fifth, sixth and eighth, that ultimately made the most damage, helping the Cuse to a 4-point win overall.
Beavercreek graduate Savannah Roark (right) had a fantastic start to her college career, netting a time of 18:08.8 for the 5K course.