Track and field: Alowonle wins two ACC championship titles
It didn't take long for RJ Alowonle to make an impact in Chapel Hill.
Alowonle, a 2012 Park graduate and one of the greatest male track and field athletes in Minnesota history, finished with two Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship titles at the 2013 ACC Outdoor Championships on Saturday, April 20, at North Carolina State University.
Alowonle, a freshman at the University of North Carolina, finished in first place in the men's 400-meter hurdles and helped the Tar Heels' 1600-meter relay team win the ACC championship.
Alowonle took home his first individual ACC gold with his personal-time of 51.55 seconds in the event. He finished just ahead of his teammate Reynaldo Radlin, who was the ACC champion in the event in 2011 and had a time of 51.68 for second place. Alowonle and Radlin also teamed up with Sean Sutton and Clayton Parros to win the 1600-meter relay with a time of 3 minutes, 9.34 seconds.
Overall, the Tar Heel men finished fourth with 113 points and the women placed sixth with 66 points with Carolina earning 14 All-ACC honors total.
"Day three of the ACCs showed our kids doing a fantastic job," said UNC head coach Harlis Meaders, "We went into the day in very good position. We knew the other teams would come on strong and our goal was to hold our ground and finish high. Across the board our kids did a fantastic job: a season-best for the 4x4 title, the 400 hurdles going one-two was outstanding.
"The men finished in fourth by one point and the women in 6th but 10 points separated fourth, fifth, and sixth - it was just that competitive of a competition," added Coach Meaders, "I'm really proud of our kids. I thought they fought well and everybody rose to the occasion. It's just at tough conference. We'll continue to get better in the championship season as we get closer to NCAAs and send our camp to regionals."
While at Park, Alowonle won seven state championship titles and broke two state records - in the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. He earned the 2012 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year award and the USA Track and Field Male High School Athlete of the Year for 2012. Individually, he earned seven all-state honors during his time at Park - three times in the 300 hurdles, twice in the 110 hurdles, once in the triple jump and one time for soccer.
In addition to seven state championship medals, Alowonle holds a remarkable five Park High School records - in the 110 and 300 hurdles, the triple jump, the 400-meter dash and as part of the 400-meter relay. The Park and state records were all over 25 years old. In all, he is in the top eight on the Park all-time list in an incredible seven different events.
The Tar Heels will next compete at the historic Penn Relays April 25-27. The Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States, hosted annually since April 21, 1895 by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.