Dorchester's Megan Dunn repeats as NCAA Southern Conference indoor champion
for the women's multi event competition with another Wofford school record
Sunday, February 28th, 2021
By Rob J. Ross
LEXINGTON, Va. - In her mind Megan Dunn was sitting back taking in the sights and sounds.
On the outside the senior with the Wofford College Terriers was setting personal bests on her way to repeating as the NCAA Southern Conference (SoCon) women's pentathlon champion.
The Dorchester native defended her pentathlon title with another school record performance, a personal best total of 3604 points in the five event competition.
With the result, Dunn earned All-Southern Conference honours.
"It's amazing. Unbelievable actually. I never expected to do so well," said Dunn, a day after winning gold, now the pinnacle of her career.
"This is the highlight."
Dunn won shot put with a best throw of 10.83 metres, placed second in long jump (5.51m), tied for second in high jump (1.59m) and third in both the 60-metre hurdles (9.02 seconds) and the 800-metre run (2:30.46).
Dunn trailed Wofford teammate Netanya Linares by 25 points heading into the final event, the 800-metre run. Even without her best 800 time (2:24.77), in a photo finish Dunn was third (2:30.46), less than a second out of first place (2:29.54) and more importantly, six seconds ahead of Linares. That was enough to lift Dunn to the top of the podium, 43 points ahead of her teammate.
"My coach let me know that I could relax a little and save some energy for my other two events (open women's 60-metre hurdles and 200-metre run) I had after multi. I just ran the race and didn't think too hard," said Dunn. "I was very relaxed."
It wasn't until the 800 run that Dunn and Linares found out they were one-two in the pentathlon standings.
"Netanya and I didn't look at scores or really pay attention to any of the events until the 800. We had no idea where we were in the standings. All I knew was that I was doing well and staying near the top for each event," explained Dunn. "I don't pay attention to how others are doing. I just focus on myself. I had no idea what position I was in until right before the 800."
That may be hard to believe, but Dunn insists it's how she approaches the pentathlon.
"I really didn't (know). I was just enjoying it and having fun. I was really relaxed this meet," said Dunn, although she knew she was in medal contention by the results. "I felt that I was performing well. I ran a multi PB (personal best) in the hurdles, was one centimetre short of my PB in high jump and a I got a PB in shot and long jump."
Prior to the 800 start, another Wofford teammate let Dunn know she had to beat Linares by 1.5 seconds to win gold. Dunn's PB for the race is 14 seconds faster than Linares. As along as Dunn finished ahead of Linares, gold was likely staying with her.
"I just knew that I was going to try my best and see what happens. I knew that if I got too worked up that I wouldn't perform. One of the main factors was that I was grateful to be competing. Considering we are still in a pandemic, I was just so happy that we were able to compete."
The pentathlon took place in an empty venue with only the ladies competing and the men in the heptathlon. The athletes in open events were still back at the motel.
"The atmosphere was different. There were no fans so the stadium was empty making it very calm," Dunn explained. "It felt more like a practice and the sportsmanship was unreal. I guess because everyone was so happy just to be there. Everyone was cheering each other on."
Dunn may have been very relaxed, but there was pressure being the reigning champion.
"I think this year was tougher because I felt like I had to prove myself, whereas last year I didn't know about winning and didn't know I had the chance. So knowing that I could win this year if I had a good day added a little pressure."
A year ago, Dunn took over the school record with 3,552 points. This past January she increased the total to 3,603 points.
Not running near her PB in the 800 at conference does not slow her enthusiasm for her accomplishment.
"I'm not thinking about that. For me the goal in the end was to win and that's what I did and I still managed to break the school record. I ran my fastest indoor 200 metre after the 800 and I think that is partially due to the fact I relaxed in the 800. I am very happy."
In her two open events, Dunn finished ninth in the 60m hurdles (9.10 sec.) and 10th in the 200m sprint (25.53 sec.)
Dunn also expressed excitement about the Wofford women's team placing second overall with just 16 females competing compared 25 for champion Stamford.
Up next is the SoCon outdoor season.
"My weakness point in track is my lack of confidence and this (winning indoors)
definitely helps. I am going to take one to two weeks off to give my body some
rest and then I'm going to train hard and do my best this outdoor season."
© 2021 Hometownplay.ca