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Reunited: Farley joins Alowonle at North Carolina

RJ Alowonle and D’Monte Farley, both 2012 Park grads, worked out together last week at Park High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)1 / 2
RJ Alowonle and D’Monte Farley will be teammates together at North Carolina this year after Farley recently decided to transfer from North Dakota to compete for the Tar Heels. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)2 / 2

RJ Alowonle had been playfully planting the idea in D’Monte Farley’s head for more than a year.

The two, both key members of the 2012 Park boys track and field team that took second place as a team at the state tournament, stayed in touch with weekly updates as Farley was jumping at North Dakota and Alowonle was running and hurdling at North Carolina for the last two years.

It was two friends keeping in touch and staying in support of one another from afar.

“We definitely kept up that friendship and communication,” Farley said, “just making sure each of us was working hard.”

But after Farley jumped extremely well at the Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Alowonle made just a hint of a suggestion.

“He was like ‘hey man, you should think about maybe coming [to North Carolina,’” Farley said.

“I talked to my coach about him right away,” Alowonle said. “My coach said ‘hey, if he’s trying to come, we’ll take him.’ I told D’Monte that. It was a little bit of a joke, because I wanted him to come, but I know nobody wants to transfer, for their school to not work out. I wasn’t trying to push him or anything. I want him to find the best fit for him. I knew it’d be really, really cool and we’d have a lot of fun.”

A few week’s ago Alowonle’s vision became a reality. Farley was accepted into North Carolina, meaning his transfer was complete and the two will once again compete as teammates, this time as Tar Heels.

“It looks like the kid just can’t get away from me,” Alowonle joked. “I’m really, really excited. I think it’s a really good fit. I just finished my second year [at North Carolina] and D’Monte’s pretty similar to me. I know he’s a really talented guy and works really, really hard.”

At the time of Alowonle’s first mention of Farley potentially coming to North Carolina, Farley said he thought of the suggested move as more of a joke between the two. But last year he seriously started to think about moving to a more prestigious school in terms of athletics.

Still, it didn’t seem like a reunion between the two was likely.

Farley visited the University of Minnesota, a school he seriously considered while in high school, as he was looking at potential transfer spots. That seemed like the place he was going to end up at.

But when North Carolina assistant coach Steve Rubin, who is also the primary coach who works with Alowonle, called, Farley knew he at least had to take a visit to the Tar Heels campus.

He went down in the middle of May, and he was hooked.

“It was just a beautiful campus and it felt like a perfect fit for me and what I wanted in sports,” Farley said. “It was just a bigger stage pushing forward.”

But it might have been more about what North Carolina offered outside of sports that really swayed Farley toward the Tar Heels.

Alowonle said the North Carolina coaching staff wants to grow not just great athletes, but great people who can be role models for the surrounding youth.

“That’s a big thing that our program is trying to implement,” Alowonle said. “I think D’Monte fits that mold really, really well.”

Alowonle said North Carolina is one of “the best fits” for student athletes who want to excel on and off the track.

“That’s the Carolina way,” Alowonle said. “It’s putting the best foot forward in each and every thing you do.”

Farley heard that message from Alowonle multiple times, but it was reinforced by every person he met, including the coaches, during his May visit.

“I got that feeling from everyone at the campus, not just the athletics department, but also the support academic staff and other teammates,” he said. “I felt like everyone down there was on the same page, and that’s what I really appreciated and felt good about at that campus.”

That message took hold with Farley, and he verbally committed to become a Tar Heel on the final day of his visit.

Farley said he learned some valuable lessons during his time at North Dakota, primarily about what training works for him and how to listen to his body. He hopes to utilize those lessons to help himself succeed in a big way with the Tar Heels.

Farley is especially looking forward to reuniting with Alowonle. He’s seen the success Alowonle has had in two years at North Carolina -- earning NCAA All-American honors in both the indoor and outdoor seasons this year. Farley said once he and Alowonle hit the track together this fall, he expects they’ll return to their high school ways of pushing one another to be better, something that helped power the two to so much success with the Wolfpack.

“I think that’s going to really help both of us move forward and push and give everything we’ve got,” Farley said. “So I’m really excited about that.”

Alowonle’s primary hope with Farley from the get-go was that his friend would find the best fit for him, something Farley said he thinks he’s located in Raleigh, N.C. And the fact that it just so happened to be next to his high school running mate is an added bonus.

“I was really, really excited for him,” Alowonle said. “Because I know that he can succeed and do really big things once he steps on campus.”