Dorchester's Megan Dunn captures the NCAA Southern Conference heptathlon
by over 500 points and sets school record topping 5000 points
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
By Rob J. Ross
CULLOWHEE, N.C - Standing on top the podium as the 2021 NCAA Southern Conference women's heptathlon champion, Dorchester's Megan Dunn reflected on her accomplishments over four years.
The senior at Wofford College, in Spartanburg, North Carolina, had just set a school record in the heptathlon amassing 5013 points, at the SOCON outdoor track and field championships, at Western Carolina University.
Dunn was the only heptathlete over 5000 points and finished more than 500 ahead of Samford University's Caroline Huff, at 4504. Wofford teammate Netanya Linares was third with 4493 points.
"Amazing. I accomplished exactly what I wanted," said Dunn.
The Dorchester native now holds Wofford school records, for the heptathlon, pentathlon and women's javelin.
Dunn won the pentathlon twice, earlier this year and in 2020. Fourth in the heptathlon in her freshman year in 2018, Dunn moved up to silver in 2019. There was no outdoor season in 2020.
"It is hard to describe honestly," said Dunn, about her achievements. "I never thought I would win conference and definitely not three times. I wanted to grow as an athlete and just do the sport I love. Winning was just the icing on the cake. I had the best four years of my life."
Dunn led the heptathlon after day one's four events, took command by winning both the javelin throw (37.99 metres) and the 800-metre run (2:23.68).
Linares made a threat to retake first place in overall points, pulling to within three points after winning long jump (5.33m), the opening event of day two. Dunn placed third with a best leap of 5.25 metres.
Dunn had moved into first place in the standings after winning the fourth and final event on day one, the 200-metre sprint in 25.47 seconds.
"Winning the 200 felt really good and it was a great way to end day one and head into my better day," Dunn said. "I was relaxed but I wasn't confident. In my past I tended to fault a lot in long jump and I didn't have a great day in jav (open women's event) so I wasn't overly confident. I was more relaxed and focused."
After her day one events in the heptathlon, Dunn warmed up her throwing arm, by placing fourth in women's javelin, at 35.47 metres, but more than five metres short of her personal best mark of 40.63m.
In long jump, Dunn did fault one of her three jump attempts, but landed two over five metres.
By the time of the 800 race, Dunn was the only competitor over 4000 points and held a 300 plus point lead over Linares. The twice around the oval event came down to Dunn and Mia Milasinovic, of Samford University.
"With 300 metres to go, Mia passed me and I'm glad she did because I didn't think I go could faster until she passed me. I was able to keep up with her and then I was able to pass her in the last 100 metres. I was running against the clock because I was trying to run as close to 2:20 as I could.
"It was a huge sense of relief when I crossed the line."
Dunn started day one with a second place finish in the 100-metre hurdles (14.78 seconds), followed by a fourth place in high jump (1.57 metres) and third, in shot put (10.55m).
Focused and determined throughout the seven disciplines, emotions got to Dunn just before stepping up on the podium while embracing Wofford coach Johnny Bomar.
"I was so happy standing on the podium," Dunn said. "Moments before when I was hugging my coach was very emotional. As soon as I hugged my coach we started to cry."
Megan also had her mom, Kendra, in attendance watching, while dad, Dave, was home in Dorchester, getting the play by play via text messages.
The conference championships conclude Dunn's career at the Division 1 school. There are no regionals for the heptathlon and only the top 24 ranked athletes are invited to the NCAA championships in June.
"Conference champ doesn't mean that much for NCAA. I would need around 5400 points to go," explained Dunn, adding she thinks she's ranked in the 50-somethings.
Her future as a multi events athlete is doubtful. Dunn will continue her education at Salus University of Pennsylvania College of Optometry, in Philadelphia, later this year. She feels her studies will not allow her to properly train.
"I will not have much time since my schooling will be during the summer as well."
Named All-Conference following the meet, Dunn was also selected as the Southern Conference's student-athlete of the week, thanks to the heptathlon gold and her 3.94 grade point average. The biology major is the first Wofford athlete to earn the award this academic year.
"I take pride in being very organized and having great time management skills, Dunn said. "I worked hard in practice to go to my room and start my work. I didn't have a lot of free time but it was so worth it."
Following the conclusion of the heptathlon, Dunn placed 12th (1.55m) in women's high jump.
Her points helped
the Wofford women placed second as a team, the school's best ever showing at
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