For the second straight year, the University of North Carolina is adding Pennsylvania's top boys' distance talent.
On Monday evening, Colton Sands announced his commitment to join the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill next fall. Sands, who has won three individual state titles so far in his high school career, made his announcement on Twitter.
"Excited to announce I will be taking the next step of my academic and athletic journeys to the University of North Carolina," the Penns Valley Area senior wrote.
He chose the Tar Heels over the the University of Virginia. He also considered Furman, Purdue, and Temple.
Sands will join multi-time Pennsylvania state champion Patrick Anderson, a Mount Lebanon alum and current college freshman, at UNC. The commitment of Sands adds to an impressive Monday for Tar Heels coach Chris Miltenberg, who got verbals from female stars Brynn Brown and Sydney Masciarelli earlier in the day. Last year, another top PA distance runner on the girls' side - Taryn Parks - signed with the Tar Heels.
Sands enters his senior season on the heels of a junior year that saw him rise to the national stage. He won the PIAA Class A state title and then earned a qualifying spot at Foot Locker Nationals, where he earned All-American honors with a tenth place finish in San Diego. He won the PIAA Class AA state crown in the 3,200 meters as a sophomore and then won the PTFCA indoor state crown in the 3,000 meters this past winter.
Sands holds a 5K XC PR of 15:14 and bests on the track of 4:16.43 in the 1,600 meters, 9:24.75 in the 3,200 meters, and 8:31.96 in the indoor 3K. He, of course, did not have an outdoor track season as a junior due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sands is PA's top returner in cross country for this coming fall. Sands and Brendan Colwell make up one of the nation's top duos. He'll add to a strong UNC roster that has been on the rise since last summer when it brought on Miltenberg as coach, who made the move from Stanford University.