Pepin Promotes Jonas to Assistant Coach
Nebraska track and field head coach Gary Pepin announced on Wednesday that volunteer assistant coach Dusty Jonas has been promoted to a full-time assistant coach position.
Jonas, a former Husker high jump national champion, has been a volunteer assistant for the program for the past eight years and will replace retiring coach Billy Maxwell as the coach of the men's sprints, hurdles and relays. He will continue to oversee the men's and women's high jumpers as well. Jonas becomes the first former male Olympian to coach on the University of Nebraska track and field staff, joining Carol Frost as the only other track and field Olympian to coach for the Huskers. Jonas competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
"Dusty has had terrific success in coaching the high jumpers here at Nebraska, and he also spent a year working with Billy and the men's sprinters and hurdlers, so I am confident that he will be a great fit in that role," Pepin said. "As a former elite professional athlete, Dusty brings a wealth of international and national experience to our track and field program. He is one of the emerging young, outstanding coaches in the nation."
"I am extremely honored and thankful to join the track and field coaching staff full-time at Nebraska," Jonas said. "I have spent the last 13 years as a student-athlete or coach at the University of Nebraska and it has become a second home to me. It is a uniquely special place with an outstanding tradition, and it is an honor for me to continue to represent this university in my new capacity. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my eight years as a volunteer coach to learn from Coach Pepin and Coach Maxwell as well as the other members of our staff. I look forward to helping continue a tradition of success, and I look forward to the challenge of adding to the legacy that Coach Pepin and Coach Maxwell have built over the last 20 years."
Since rejoining the Husker program as a volunteer coach in 2010, Jonas has coached nine Big Ten high jump champions and 10 first-team All-Americans. Twelve Huskers have cracked all-time top-10 high jump charts in his eight seasons. Over the last four years, the Husker high jumpers have produced five Big Ten titles. In the 2015 indoor season, Jonas helped Maxwell coach the Husker men's sprints, hurdles and relays, and that group went on to combine for 46 of the team's title-winning 127 points at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
Jonas also coached former Husker All-America high jumper Marusa Cernjul as she qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cernjul placed 21st representing Slovenia, clearing 6-3 1/2 (1.92m) in her first appearance at the Olympics. She qualified for the Olympics with a personal-best leap of 6-4 (1.93m) at the Slovenian Championships in 2016. She was a first-team All-American and Big Ten champion in the high jump for the Huskers, and with Jonas as her coach following her career, she improved on her collegiate PR (6-1 1/4), by nearly three inches in one year to reach the Olympics.
As a standout athlete for the Huskers, Jonas won the 2008 NCAA indoor high jump title as a senior. He still holds the high jump school record both outdoors (7-8 3/4) and indoors (7-7), and his outdoor mark is the No. 2 mark ever by a collegian.