Cheltenham's Brianna Smith is headed to Duke University next year. The senior announced her college decision last week. Smith, a talented multi-event specialist will join the Blue Devils that is deep in the mutlis.
Smith took second at New Balance Nationals Outdoor last summer as a junior, scoring 4,811 points, which is No. 2 all-time in Pennsylvania high school history. She scored 3,667 for a PR in the pentathlon to take fifth at New Balance Nationals Indoor last winter. She holds PRs of 14.42 in the 100 meter hurdles and 5-8 in the high jump, a pair of her best individual events.
Smith took the time to answer some questions for PennTrackXC on the recruiting process, why she chose Duke, and offered some advice for younger athletes. Check it out below.
PennTrackXC: Tell me about your decision to choose Duke University.
Brianna Smith: I chose Duke University because it really was the best overall fit or me. It has the perfect balance of academics and athletics for me because I have always been someone who achieves high in athletics while also achieving high in academics. I pride myself as a student athlete and Duke is the best place for the true student athlete. While Duke has some of the best academics in the country, it also has one of the best multi programs in the country. My training group will consist of girls who are competing at a very high level in the multi events, and I knew that I would fit right in and improve along with them.
PTXC: What other schools did you consider?
BS: My top 6 schools were Duke, Princeton, University of Iowa, Penn State, UVA, and UPenn (in no order).
PTXC: What was one factor about Duke that put it over the top for you?
BS: The one factor that put Duke over the top was my future coach's (Shawn Wilbourn) plan for my training and progression. He showed me exactly how I could go from my current level to being a NCAA All-American. He knows what kind of athlete I am going to be and how to get me there.
PTXC: What was your visit like at Duke?
BS: My visit at Duke was wonderful. I knew during first day before I even went to sleep that Duke is where I was going. There was no doubt in my mind that Duke was where I belonged. I even texted my parents telling them that Duke is the place for me. I loved the environment, the people, the team, the classes, and everything about it.
PTXC: The pentathlon/heptathlon is an event that is only contested at select national meets at the high school level, so how much are you looking forward to the opportunity to focus on your main event more at the collegiate level?
BS: I am so excited to focus on multis in college! Multi training is very difficult in high school, especially for someone like me who doesn't have access to tons of personal trainers or fancy facilities. So, I am very excited to really become a true multi-eventer and I know that I am going to improve right away just from the multi-focused training alone. I know it won't be easy but I am excited and I'm ready to work out with some of the best multi-eventers in the country.
PTXC: How important was it for you to sign before the season started?
BS: It was very important to me to sign before the season started because this process has been very long and stressful and I really wanted to get it over with before I had the added stress of competition. When I narrowed down my schools, I still had other schools reaching out but there was no school that could make me change my top 6. I also wanted to sign because I knew when I went to Duke that there was no school possible that could make me change my mind. There was nothing holding me back from signing that paper.
PTXC: What's some advice you might give to younger athletes that are getting ready to go through the recruiting process?
BS: I would tell younger athletes to remember that they are the ones being recruited and not the other way around. The schools want them just as much as they want to go to the schools, so they shouldn't settle for any less than they deserve or any less than they want out of a school. This decision will affect the rest of your life and you should make sure that the school you choose has everything that you want and need. I would also advise them to not get caught up in the hype and make the choice for them and not anyone else's wants or needs.
PTXC: How are your preparations going for the start of your senior indoor season?
BS: I have really been putting a lot of work in during conditioning to prepare myself for indoor season. I've added a new coach, Keith Garland, to the group of coaches that I already work with and I'm feeling stronger than I ever have before. I have my sights set on state and national titles, so I really want to have my last high school indoor season go out with a bang.