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Durgin Named Most Outstanding Performer As UConn Places Second at AAC Championship

Tiffany Daley

March 1, 2014

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – The University of Connecticut women’s track & field program finished second in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon at Armory Collegiate. The squad posted 114 points to finish behind SMU’s 118.5. Emily Durgin was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer after winning the 5,000 meter run, the 3,000 meter run and anchoring UConn’s DMR squad to a first place finish yesterday.

Laura Williamson opened the final day of competition on a winning note for the Huskies. The sophomore won the mile run in a personal best time of 4:53. “We told the milers to start the meet off on a good note and set the tone,” said assistant coach Amy Begley. “Laura Williamson took it to heart. She executed the race plan perfectly by bravely taking the lead and not giving it back.”

Faith Dismuke posted the best time of her career in the 800 meter run to earn third place in 2:07.50, jumping out with the leaders and fighting all the way to the line. Emily Howard rounded out the Connecticut effort in the 800 meter with a seventh place finish.

Madalayne Smith posted a third-place finish in the 60 meter hurdles while teammate Chantal Scott took seventh place. Celina Emerson paced the Huskies in the 400 meter dash, posting a fifth place finish.

Taylor Anderson finished in eighth place in the 60 meter dash before doubling back to compete in the 200 meter. She and Deysha Smith-Jenkins earned sixth and seventh place, respectively, to contribute to UConn’s point total.

Winning in the field events was Odrine Belot, who captured the triple jump with a new personal record of 41.79M. “She was focused and ready for championship season,” coach Begley noted. Sarah Bowens added a sixth place showing to UConn’s triple jump results.

The last two events of the day belonged to UConn, as the Huskies recorded a first, third and seventh place finish in the 3,000 meter run before capturing the 4x400 meter relay to cap the championship. Emily Durgin paced the Huskies with her third win of the meet by capturing the 3,000 meter run, leaving no doubt that she was deserving of Track Athlete of the Meet. Lauren Sara accounted for UConn’s bronze medal in the 3,000 meter to reach the podium once again. “Two weeks ago I didn’t think [Sara] would be running at the American Championship because she was recovering from injuries,” assistant coach Amy Begley explained. “Lauren ran with more heart than I have ever seen in an athlete. She put a lot of time into cross-training to be able to score 14 points for us this meet. She wanted it for her teammates.” Abby Mace earned a hard-fought seventh place by passing a number of competitors on the last lap.

UConn concluded the championship by putting on a show in the 4x400 meter relay, marking the first time in program history the 4x400 team took home gold in any championship. The winning combination of Celina Emerson, Deysha Smith-Jenkins, Faith Dismuke and Nyanka Joseph went into the race with the knowledge that the squad had to place in the top four in order for the Huskies to maintain second place as a team and fend off a Houston team looking to jump ahead in the standings. The Huskies upset the Cougars’ top-seeded 4x400 team in a school record time of 3:37.92. The squad took the lead and closed the door on Houston in the team rankings in exciting fashion.

“I am so proud of the way the girls fought for every point,” coach Begley reflected. “Some stepped up when others had an off day, and that is what a united team does for each other. UConn finished third in the American Athletic Conference Cross Country Championship and now earned second place in the Indoor American Championship. I like where this is going for outdoor track.”

Said associate head coach Clive Terrelonge of the team's effort, "I'm as proud of this team as I have been of any team I have coaches. I am excited about the future and what this young team can do," he continued. "This was a great weekend for the first-ever AAC Championship. I'm excited about the future of this conference, including the upcoming outdoor conference championship."