Time to shine: Latham carries on Badgers' All-America tradition


Latham
2014 NCAA Indoor Championships
Albuquerque Convention Center • Albuquerque, N.M.

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 Team Standings
1. Oregon 44
2. Texas 43.5
3. Florida 40.5
4. Georgia 40.5
5. Texas A&M 35
T-43. Wisconsin 4
 Wisconsin Results
 Pentathlon
1. Kendell Williams Georgia 4635
2. Erica Bougard Miss. State 4586
3. Brittany Harrell Florida 4287
5. Deanna Latham Wisconsin 4253

March 15, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE -- For Wisconsin's multi-events program, it was that time again. For Deanna Latham, it was a long time coming.

Latham grabbed the podium finish she has spent the last four years working for and, in doing so, gave the Badgers an All-American in the pentathlon for the fifth-consecutive season.

By posting marks that were near her all-time bests in all five disciplines that comprise the pentathlon, the junior racked up a lifetime-best score of 4,253 points to claim a fifth-place finish -- and the spot on the awards stand that goes along with it.

"Just being solid in every event was what I needed and that's what I did," said Latham, who improved on the 11th-place showing from her NCAA indoor debut last year.

Solid is one way to put it. In each of the two running events, Latham was exactly one hundredth of a second shy of her lifetime bests. Just three-quarters of an inch in the long jump prevented her from posting season-best marks in all three field events.
    
"I'm just happy to represent the Badgers," said Latham, who became UW's fourth All-American in the pentathlon, joining Dorcas Akinniyi, Jessica Flax and Melissa Talbot. "I take a lot of pride saying that our multis program is one of the strongest in the nation and I'm just happy I can further that and represent Wisconsin.

The numbers back up Latham's claims. Over the last five years -- covering five indoor and four outdoor seasons -- Wisconsin has earned a combined 10 All-America honors in the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon, easily the most of any program in the country. Oregon ranks second in that span with five.

Georgia freshman Kendell Williams, who broke both the collegiate and world junior records by amassing 4,635 points, claimed the national title Saturday. Mississippi State's Erica Bougard (4,586 points) was second, Florida's Brittany Harrell (4,287) took third and Georgia's Lucie Ondraschkova (4,268) claimed fourth.

Two weeks removed from winning the Big Ten title, Latham opened the day by duplicating her time of 8.34 seconds from the 2013 national meet. That matched her best mark in a pentathlon and was just one hundredth of a second off her school record of 8.33.

She then matched her lifetime best in the high jump by clearing 5 feet, 7 inches and followed with a season-best throw of 39-4 in the shot put. Still, Latham found herself in ninth place with two events to go.

Her effort in the long jump put her right back into All-America contention, however. Her leap of 19-7 1/2 was just an inch off her PR and was her best-ever mark in a pentathlon, vaulting her into fifth place in the overall standings with one event remaining.

"The long jump was huge," Latham said. "I was really nervous that I wasn't going to put one together because that one is an event that will kind of make you or break you going into the 800. Ideally, I wanted a 6-meter jump and I jumped 5.98, which was fine.

"I was in a good place going into the 800."

The final event posed an extra challenge given that the meet was being contested at altitude in Albuquerque. Still, Latham managed to clock a time of 2 minutes, 18.55 seconds that marked her best in a pentathlon and was a single hundredth off her lifetime best.

"I've been training really hard and I have generally felt pretty good," she said. "I felt (fatigue) a little early today. I don't know if it was because I went out hard, but the best thing I did was saying `You're fine, you're fine.' I just talking to myself, convincing myself."

In the process she helped convince the competition that UW's run of success in the multi-events isn't over yet.

"I'm glad I can show that we have top level people at this meet and can compete with the best," she said.

ON WISCONSIN
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