June 23, 2014
STORRS, Conn. - The 2013-14 campaign marked UConn's inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference, and the Huskies wasted little time cementing their spot as top contenders in the new league.
The 2013-14 season saw 2008 Olympian Amy Yoder Begley join the staff as the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach working primarily with UConn's distance runners. Long-time associate head coach and sprints specialist Clive Terrelonge assumed the role of interim head coach and led the squad to runner-up and third place finishes at the indoor and outdoor American Athletic Conference Championships, respectively. Under his watch, eleven Huskies qualified to compete at the NCAA East Regional and five Huskies (all sprinters) booked tickets to the 2014 Outdoor NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, to earn four All-American honors.
The 4x400m relay team of Celina Emerson, Nyanka Joseph, Faith Dismuke and Deysha Smith-Jenkins became the first UConn 4x400 team to reach the NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing 12th with a time of 3:34.89 to earn Second Team All-American honors. Celina Emerson, who became the first Husky to qualify in the 400m dash, earned Honorable Mention All-American honors after finishing 17th.
Eleven Huskies qualified for competition at the NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida. Freshman Taylor Anderson earned a spot in both the 100m and 200m events. Deysha Smith-Jenkins also posted a qualifying time for a spot in the 200m after running a 23.60 at the ECAC Championship, representing the second-fastest time in program history behind Trisha-Ann Hawthorne's 23.22. Smith-Jenkins also competed with the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams, which marked the first time in program history both relays earned the chance to compete in the NCAA East Regional in the same season.
Four-time All-American Brigitte Mania and junior transfer Faith Dismuke represented UConn in the 800m run while Emily Durgin competed in her first-ever NCAA East Regional in the 10,000m run. Saija Bikanova battled the field in the high jump and narrowly missed qualifying for the National Championship, while Odrine Belot was the lone Husky to compete in the triple jump. Celina Emerson competed in the 400m along with both relay teams.
Under Terrelonge's guidance, six indoor and outdoor school records fell in 2014. The 4x400m team that reached the NCAA Championship lowered the school's standard three times during the outdoor season, posting one of the top times in the nation at 3:32.83 to earn the silver medal at the American Athletic Conference Championship. UConn's 4x200 set and reset school records in consecutive days at the historic Penn Relays, with Smith-Jenkins, Emerson, Joseph and Taylor Anderson clocking 1:33.38 to take fifth place. Celina Emerson established herself as the premier 400m sprinter in school history, setting both the indoor (53.38) and outdoor (52.79) UConn records in her senior campaign.
A pair of Husky distance runners garnered The American's Most Outstanding Track Performer awards at both conference championships. Sophomore Emily Durgin was superb at the indoor championship, winning three events in two days as an individual in the 5,000m and 3,000m runs and the anchor of the distance medley relay. Her efforts helped UConn to a runner-up finish at the first-ever American Indoor Championship. Senior Brigitte Mania earned the same honor during the outdoor season after capturing the 800m and 1,500m runs, becoming the first Husky to win the 1,500m at a conference championship.
Standout Celina Emerson became the first Husky honored by The American when she earned Track Athlete of the Week on Feb. 11 after a record-setting campaign at Armory College. The senior registered a time of 53.38 in the 400m to establish the new UConn indoor record. Freshman Taylor Anderson earned her first collegiate honors during the outdoor season, taking home Track Athlete of the Week honors on Apr. 29 after anchoring the 4x200m squad to a pair of records at the Penn relays.
Multi-events athlete Saija Bikanova became just the second Husky to capture the heptathlon at the ECAC Championship on May 17 in New Jersey. Her total of 5,352 points, which ranks second-most in school history, provided UConn its first ECAC heptathlon title in 19 years. Terry Roy was the only other Husky to do accomplish the feat, doing so in 1992 and 1995.
UConn would go on to win its fifth ECAC Outdoor title in the last seven years. The Huskies have been dominant in the championship, claiming eleven overall titles as a program. After winning the 2014 indoor title as well, the Huskies have swept both the indoor and outdoor crowns four times in the last eight years.