On Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, Cheltenham senior Brianna Smith unveiled her college choice at a special signing event, choosing a Duke University hat from six hats representing her final six choices – Duke, Penn, Penn State, Virginia, Iowa and Princeton. (Photos provided courtesy of Kevin Kaufman/Cheltenham High School.)
After finishing ninth in the heptathlon at the 2018 New Balance Outdoor Nationals, Brianna Smith racked up a personal record 4,811 points en route to a second place finish and All-American honors. Smith’s 4,811 points qualify as the second best point total in Pennsylvania history, per the MileSplit.com database, and 48th all time in the United States. Smith’s total was just 147 behind champion Bryanna Craig from Millville High School (N.J.).
Smith tied for first place in the high jump (5-6), finished second in the 200 meters (25.21) and came in third in the 100-meter hurdles (14.42). She finished fourth in the long jump (18-1), 10th in the 800m (2:29.43), 11th in the shot put (31-3.25) and 20th in the javelin (66-0.25).
Brianna Smith – Duke University (Track)
Major: Chemistry with a focus in Biochemistry
Final list of colleges: Duke, Virginia, Penn State, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Iowa
Reasons for choosing Duke: When I went to Duke, I really just fell in love with the coaches and the team, and I really loved it. I knew it was the best place for me. I’m a very academic person but also I have high athletics, and it was really the best school for a student-athlete. The resources in terms of academics and athletics are great. I do multi events, which is the pentathlon and heptathlon, and they have a group of five, six girls that do the multis at a high level, so I really knew I would fit right in. They’ve all improved and I would go right along and improve with them. The coach had a whole plan for how my training would go, and I really just knew that if I go there I’m going to excel in both athletics and academics.”
What was the progression that led you to competing in track at the collegiate level? “I’ve been running since I was eight years old – that’s when I started running track, but I really started taking it serious when I was 11. That’s also when I started doing the multi events, and I always knew that I wanted to run in college. It was always a goal of mine. It was really a dream come true to see this all progress and to get a scholarship. It’s really just great.”
Track coach Jerome Lowery says: “One thing I can say about Brianna is that she’s a resilient young lady. I remember coming in to Cheltenham three years ago when she was just a sophomore. Brianna has grown mentally, physically and also athletically over the past three years. She’s had a lot of accomplishments, and that’s due in part to her focus, her determination and her drive. Those are some of the awesome qualities about her, not only just qualities but also her characteristics and her overall behavior as it relates to being a leader on the team.
“Brianna has always been a strong individual who people always looked up to and aspired to be like, and that’s simply because Brianna has lots of care for others. She spends a lot of time making sure others have what they need not just on the track but also in the classroom. She tutors a lot of the girls on the team because Brianna is in the Spanish National Honor Society and the National Honor Society. She’s taken several AP classes so she’s become like a big sister to a lot of girls on the team, and that’s what you look for as a coach – someone who can assume the role of a coach from the athlete’s mindset and who just reinforces what the coach says, so it’s been great to see her accomplish such awesome things.
“She’s been a three-time New Balance High School National All-American. Achieving her All-American status has been a struggle from the beginning. She’s worked very hard over the past three years to make that happen, so ever since she became All-American indoors in 2019, it’s become so much easier for her. It’s great to see her sign (with Duke), and it will be awesome to see how she finishes up in her senior year.”
Coach Drew Magaha says: “Brianna is an exceptional talent. There’s no sugarcoating that. She’s been given gifts and she knows how to use them. What I love about her is she’s another one of those silent leaders that sets the tone for the team and sets the bar for success and expects the same from everybody else. It’s fun because she has so many different events and she works with so many different coaches, so all of us as a coaching staff have a lot of fun figuring out the puzzle that is Brianna Smith. She has been a pleasure to work with, and it’s always fun to watch her and see the things she does.
“Last year, she had a bit of a shaky start, but she ended up turning everything around and really being successful. Being second in the nation in the heptathlon, the bar’s been set, and she’s the type of athlete who can’t sit still, she has to be improving. When she came in this year, she looked and was working like an entirely different athlete. She really is a monster, so it’s going to be really fun to watch what she does this year because she’s going out with a bang.”
Favorite food: Macaroni and Cheese
Favorite TV show: Vampire Diaries
Favorite music: Sza
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