Team Player: Deanna Latham
"I love the idea of running fast and overcoming the obstacles in front of me."
Growing up in Newbury, Massachusetts, Deanna Latham ’15 wasn’t like the other kids running around the neighborhood. Her running around was more methodical.
“I was raised a track baby,” she says. “Since I was six years old, my dad was talking to me about making a window with my arms and teaching me how to run with good form.”
So you could say Latham’s interest in track and field developed at an accelerated pace. Whatever you do, though, don’t say that competing in track and field just involves running in circles. “I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that,” Latham says. “And it frustrates me, because it’s so much more than that.”
It certainly is for Latham, who specializes in the heptathlon and pentathlon. Heptathlon is a seven-sport event that includes 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter sprint, long jump, javelin throw, and 800-meter run. Pentathlon includes five sports: 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and 800-meter run.
At the Big Ten Championships in Ohio this past February, however, Latham took a step in a different direction — opting to forgo the chance to defend her 2014 pentathlon title and focus instead on the 60-meter hurdles. That decision paid off as she raced to a third-place finish in 8.29 seconds, shaving four hundredths of a second off her own UW school record.
“I love the idea of running fast and overcoming the obstacles in front of me,” she says.
This three-time All-American saw an opportunity to end her run at the UW on an even higher note, thanks to the Badgers’ new director of cross-country and track and field, Mick Byrne. “We really upped our game,” she says, noting that the UW women’s team was ranked eleventh nationally.
Nicknamed De-Animal by a former coach, Latham lives for the thrill of going head to head with her rival racers. “There’s definitely a level of teamwork in track, but at the end of the day, it’s just you competing against other individuals … and you’re going to race your heart out against them.”
Published in the Summer 2015 issue