What happens when a Division I sprinter and a Division I middle distance runner get married and have kids? They produce pentathletes. And they pay a lot less for their kids to attend college.
At least that has been the case so far for K.C. and Helen Latham of Newbury, whose daughter, Deanna, will open her junior season with the University of Wisconsin indoor track and field team this weekend.
Deanna has had a stellar five seasons (two indoor, three outdoor) for UW of the Big 10 Conference, which is as big a stage as there is in college track and field.
She is a two-time All-American. “Second team,” she says without the slightest hint of satisfaction. She was also the runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles at the Big 10 Championship last May in a svelte 13.15 seconds, a personal-best.
Latham is quick to point out she has bigger goals, for this indoor season and beyond. She wants to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. “I’ve wanted to since I was 6,” she said. “I wanted to make it in gymnastics, but I grew a little too tall and awkward so I switched to track.”
On a weekly basis, she lines up against Olympic hopefuls. Based on her results and the window of opportunity she has, it is not a far-fetched goal. She will redshirt this outdoor season (she also sat out her freshman indoor season), return for the full 2014-15 season and spend 2015-16 training full time for Rio.
For this season, however, she is aiming for a top-eight finish in the pentathlon, up from 11th at the NCAA Championship last year. The Pentathlon consists of the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meters.
Not your average athlete
College multi-event athletes have a disadvantage compared to others. Typically, Latham will compete in two full pentathlons in a regular season while competing in open events the remainder of the year. For example, she may run the hurdles and do the long jump this weekend, and throw the shot and do high jump at the next meet. Time constraints (and fatigue) limit athletes from doing five open events in a single meet.