Feb. 28, 2014
• Complete Results | Complete Results
GENEVA, Ohio -- In each of the past two seasons, Wisconsin junior Deanna Latham has had at least one other Badgers athlete to look up to in the pentathlon at the Big Ten indoor championships.
In 2013, Latham placed third behind champion Jessica Flax. In 2012, Latham helped UW sweep the event when Flax took second and both were looking up at Dorcas Akinniyi, who took top honors for the third-straight year.
This season, the Newbury, Mass., native soared to the top of the podium by setting a personal record in the five-discipline event with a score of 4,176 points, well ahead of her previous high of 4,117.
“Practicing with Dorcas and Jessica and competing with them, I think, prepared me for this,” Latham said. “They were wonderful athletes and great teammates but I think that it was my time.
“I couldn’t even help it when I finished, I was like, ‘Finally!’ I was pretty excited.”
In her championship performance, Latham ran a sub-9 second 60 hurdles time for the fourth time this season, matched her lifetime best in the high jump, recorded her top mark of the season in the shot put and set a personal record in the 800 meters.
Heading into the 800 with the lead at 3,333 points, Latham had to break the 2:22.90 mark to surpass her personal best score. Despite some early drama when she got boxed out and shuffled backward, there was panic from Latham, who knew exactly what she needed to do.
“I just wanted to get out and follow Jessica Herauf from Minnesota, but probably four or five girls boxed me out,” she explained. “So I had to sprint around the corner to catch up to her, so I wasted a little bit there. But overall, I was pretty happy with my time.”
She clocked in at 2:18.54, enough to give her the crown by more than 100 points. Herauf took second with 4,054 points, while Nebraska’s Anne Martin settled for third with a score of 3,998.
“I think (Flax and Akinniyi) would be really proud of me,” Latham said. “They’re all doing their own thing but I think that they’d be very proud with where I am and just the athlete that I’ve become.
“I think that they’d be happy.”
Latham ran an 8.37 in the 60 hurdles, just off of her school record of 8.33, which was set at the Armory Collegiate Invitational on Feb. 8. She then cleared 5-7 in the high jump before recording a mark of 37-10 3/4 in the shot put to give her a 20-point lead after three events.
Latham finished tied for second in the long jump by soaring 19-2 to give her a comfortable lead heading into the final event.
The victory is Latham’s second this year in the pentathlon, as she took home top honors at the Bill Bergan Invitational on Jan. 31. Her mark is also the fourth-best nationally this season and puts her in strong position heading into the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks.
A pair of distance runners in freshman Molly Hanson and sophomore Emma-Lisa Murphy also impressed on the first day of competition.
Hanson, who owns the top mile mark for UW this season at 4:42.60, finished in 4:46.81 to advance to Saturday’s final.
Murphy gave UW three points by crushing her personal record in the 3000 meters by nearly 20 seconds and took sixth with a time of 9:24.66. Teammate Erin Cawley took 11th in 9:35.04.
Hanson also proved instrumental in giving UW its final four points of the day in the distance medley relay.
After Victoria Paulson was tripped up on the lead leg and came to the first exchange trailing the pack by nearly 30 meters, Sophie Roth, Lizzie Wendt and Hanson put together a tremendous comeback that saw the Badgers rally to a fifth-place finish with a time of 11:25.88.
Kimberly Azie, who posted the third-best 60 meters time for UW earlier this season, just missed out on advancing to the finals with her mark of 7.62. Nebraska’s Mara Weekes was the last qualifier with a time of 7.58.
Courtney Walden and Taylor Kirby also turned in impressive performances in the pole vault despite not finishing in the top 10. They tied for 14th by clearing 12-9 1/2. That mark matched Walden’s PR and topped Kirby’s by two inches.
The Badgers will head into the second day of action in seventh place with 17 points. Michigan (38), Indiana (35) and Nebraska (30) lead the pack. Women’s competition resumes Saturday with the high jump at 10 a.m. (CT).