Last Friday, Newbury’s Deanna Latham proved she is the best female athlete in the Big 10 Conference. In two weeks, she wants to prove she’s the best in the country.
Latham, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, won the pentathlon — which includes the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meters — Friday at the Big 10 Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship.
She said winning the Big 10 title still hasn’t sunk in, which is likely a good thing given that since her next meet is the NCAA Championship March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M., there is little, if any, time to think about it.
“It’s a little surreal right now,” Latham said. “I’m still waiting for it to hit me.”
Latham compiled a career-best 4,176 points in a tight race to edge Jess Herauf of Minnesota (4,054), Anne Martin of Nebraska (3,998) and Brittney Howell of Penn State (3,997), who trailed Latham by 11 points going into the last event. Points are given based on the results of each event.
The pentathlon (indoor) and heptathlon (outdoor) titles had previously eluded Latham: She has finished in third place three times — once when she was seeded first — and fourth place last year.
“The biggest thing with multi-athletes is being solid and consistent,” she said. “You don’t have to set a PR (personal record) in every event. I only PR’d in one event and was consistent in all the others. I did all I needed to do to win.”
Latham opened the pentathlon in the 60-meter hurdles and placed second in 8.37 seconds. She then tied for first in the high jump, clearing 5- 7 to match her personal best.
“Those are probably the two most nerve-racking events because a lot can go right and a lot can go wrong,” Latham said. “You can take three bad attempts in the high jump or nick a hurdle and your day is finished. After that I just played it safe.”