Hello all, and welcome to another edition of Husky History. Each week this column highlights the accomplishments of a former UConn athlete and their ability to perform at the professional level.
This week’s edition focuses on star distance runner Emily Durgin, who has collected countless honors in her time as a Husky.
The native of Portland, Maine was a star runner early on in her life. During her time at Cheverus High School — where she participated in cross country, track and field and swimming — Durgin won state championships in the two-mile and 4×800 meter relay on the track. In cross country, she was a Footlocker Championship finalist, a national meet only 40 athletes qualify for each season.
For her high school accomplishments, Durgin earned herself a scholarship position on the UConn cross country and track and field teams.
In 2013, Durgin got off to a strong start in her freshman track campaign. In the indoor season, Durgin ran a season best in the mile with a 5:06:43 effort at the Boston University Terrier Classic. She came back less than a month later to run 10:08:02 in the 3000 meter run at the NEICAAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, where the Huskies captured the team title.
Her sophomore year was when she broke out on the oval. At the 2014 American Indoor Track and Field Championships, the sophomore took home three gold medals in the 3000 meter, 5000 meter and distance medley relay. Despite her gold medals, the Huskies came up short in the team race, placing second behind Southern Methodist.
Later that outdoor season, Durgin came through again at the conference championship for the Huskies. One of the most physically challenging tasks for a track athlete is to run the 10000 and 5000 meter runs within two days of each other. Racing over nine miles, Durgin turned in two top-six finishes to lead the Huskies to a third place team finish.
For her performances in the 10000 meter that season, Durgin qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round for a chance to race at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She came up short in her efforts, but represented the track and field program proudly.
Returning for her junior cross country season, Durgin had about as successful a fall as one can hope. Running a personal best five kilometer race in the season opener at UMass with a time of 17:10:1, the Husky would go on to win the 2014 American Athletic Cross Country Championship individually.
After her 12th place finish at the NCAA Division I Northeast Region Cross Country Championships, Durgin earned an at-large bid to represent UConn at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships alongside senior captain Lauren Sara.
Durgin would add another convincing American Athletic Conference title in the 10000 meters in the 2015 outdoor season, running 34:30:49. Her time was almost a minute faster than the next competitor not wearing a UConn jersey. She would return two days later to earn second place in the 5000 meter run.
Same as the previous season, Durgin qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in the 10000. In one year’s time, she improved her performance to place 19th overall.
Durgin would have several high finishes the rest of her career as a Husky, most notably completing the 5000 and 10000 meter double again in her final track season, but this time coming out with two first place finishes.
Durgin would graduate from UConn in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism. Following her collegiate career, she would embark on a professional running career beginning with Team New Balance Boston until January 2019.
After Durgin’s time in Boston, she signed a contract with Under Armour in 2019 and was a sponsored athlete with them until July 2021. As an Under Armour athlete, Durgin posted a personal best in the 5000 meter run with a time of 15:24:19.
Durgin currently runs for Adidas, where she has made her mark on the roads. At the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 15, Durgin placed fifth in the women’s race, completing the race in a blistering 2:26:46. The time qualifies her for the 2024 Olympic marathon trials with a chance to represent the United States at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
After her performance at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Durgin went to Instagram and posted a picture with family and friends with the caption, “Whenever people ask me why I decided to continue to pursue running after college I say, I wanted to see how good I could be and because of the incredible support system behind me telling me to go for it.”
Durgin currently resides and trains in running hot-spot Flagstaff, Arizona. In 2020, UConn made difficult financial decisions to cut four different sports, one of them being men’s cross country. Further plans were made by the university athletics department to make more budget cuts, and track and field alumnus all over came together to voice why track and field should remain at UConn, one of those being Durgin.
On Instagram, Durgin compiled a gallery of photos with a caption that included, “Being a student-athlete taught me so much about myself and shaped who I am today.” She continued with, “I want to continue to influence and empower other athletes to pursue their dreams, and to do that as a UConn Husky!”
UConn is proud to have a supportive former athlete that still encourages current athletes to reach new heights, even from across the country.