May 4, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. – Senior distance runner Brigitte Mania and sophomore jumper Odrine Belot accounted for UConn’s three gold medals in the final day of the American Athletic Conference Championship on Sunday in Florida. The Huskies finished in third place overall with 111.6 points after earning 14 top-five finishes across the three-day meet. SMU out-paced the other squads in the conference to finish with 153.2 points, followed by Central Florida in second place with 138.6
Mania was outstanding this weekend, winning both the 1,500m and 800m runs after setting the standard for both events in Saturday’s preliminary heats. The senior was named Most Outstanding Track Performer by the conference, which marks the second time in as many conference championships that a Husky distance runner has received the honor. Emily Durgin took home the accolade in the indoor season after capturing two individual events and anchoring the DMR team to a top-finish in New York.
Mania held off UCF’s Erica Winston to take home the gold medal in the 800m with a time of 2:06.70, which was just .13 seconds off the stadium record time. She joins Heather Wilson (2012) as the only Huskies to capture an individual conference championship in the 800m. The four-time All-American’s time of 4:25.45 to win the 1,500m run made her the first Husky in program history to earn the achievement. UConn runners swept the 1,500m across both the men’s and women’s meets, with fellow Husky Mike O’Donnell earning the top finish on the men’s side.
Connecticut enjoyed fine performances from its distance runners this weekend and the 800m was no exception. All three Huskies who qualified in the 800m placing in the top five. Faith Dismuke earned the bronze medal with ap personal-best result of 2:06.90, which ranks among the top in the NCAA East. Kat Vodopia slid into fifth place in 2:11.75.
Contributing UConn’s other top finish sophomore Odrine Belot. She covered a distance of 12.65m to become just the third Husky to capture a conference crown in the triple jump. The last Husky to accomplish the feat was Tamara Highsmith at the former Big East Outdoor Championship in 2008, which broke a dry spell of 24 years since the first Connecticut jumper took the honors in 1984.
In the sprints, Celina Emerson and Nyanka Joseph posted top-five finishes in the 400m to collect 12 points for UConn. Emerson reached the podium in dramatic fashion, breaking the school record in the 400m with a time of 52.80. Her effort to earn second place made program history as the first HUsky to post a sub-53 second time in the 400m. The effort ranks her eighth in the NCAA East. Joseph rounded out the top-five with some history of her own in fifth place. Her time of 53.58 marks the third-fastest in program history and ranks 23rd in the NCAA East.
Deysha Smith-Jenkins was the lone Husky to make the finals in the 200m dash, as she crossed the line in sixth pace in 24.09.
Madalyne Smith added another of UConn’s top-five finishes with a fifth place showing in the 110m hurdles. Smith crossed the finish line in 14.29 seconds to conclude her weekend.
The Huskies’ 4x400m relay team gave UCF all it could handle en route to setting a new school record. The tremendous efforts of Emerson, Dismuke, Smith-Jenkins and Joseph were good for second place in 3:32.83, which marks one of the fastest times in teh nation. The team was just .24 off the Knights, who recorded the top time in 3:32.59. The 4x100m team took home fourth place with the quartet of Taylor Anderson, Emerson, Smith-Jenkins and Joseph in 45.55.
In other field event action, Megan Chapman finished ninth in the discus throw while Megan Lester took twelfth place in the hammer throw. Saija Bikanova, who concluded the Heptathlon with a bronze medal yesterday, closed out the weekend in sixth place in the high jump after clearing 1.70m.
The Huskies will use an off-week to prepare for the upcoming ECAC Championships in Princeton, N.J. The meet will run from Friday, May 16 through Sunday, May 18.