Elsa Forsberg and some Huskers will compete at the Iowa State Classic, while others will head to the Pittsburg State Gorilla Classic.
Photo by Stephanie Carpenter/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Split Between Gorilla Classic, ISU Classic

By NU Athletic Communications

The Nebraska track and field team will split up for two road meets in bordering states this weekend. Some members of the squad will head to the Pittsburg State Gorilla Classic in Pittsburg, Kansas, while other Huskers will travel to the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa.

Friday’s events at the Iowa State Classic begin at 11 a.m., while action at the Gorilla Classic gets underway at 2 p.m. On Saturday, both meets begin at Noon. Live results links can be found at Huskers.com. The Iowa State Classic will have a live video stream available at FloTrack.org with a subscription necessary.

The Huskers are heading into the final two weekends before the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Feb. 23-24, 2018. Nebraska will host the Nebraska Tune-Up next Friday at the Devaney Center.

With three weekends of competition left before the NCAA Indoor Championships, eight Huskers currently rank in the top 16 nationally in their events, which would earn them a spot at the NCAA meet should they finish in the top 16. The Huskers currently in qualifying position are: Landon Bartel (high jump), Grant Anderson (high jump), Cody Walton (heptathlon), Antoine Lloyd (60-meter hurdles), Kaiwan Culmer (triple jump), Petra Luteran (high jump), Kierra Griggs (400 meters) and Angela Mercurio (triple jump).

Last Time On the Track
The Huskers showed well at the 43rd annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational last week. The Huskers captured 12 event titles, including Grant Anderson who won the high jump with a new personal-best clearance of 7-3 (2.21m) on his third attempt. Anderson’s jump moved him to No. 2 in the Big Ten behind teammate Landon Bartel. Anderson also cracked the national top 10 in a tie for ninth. In total, Husker athletes set 64 indoor collegiate personal bests and recorded seven NCAA top-25 marks and six all-time NU top-10 performances.

Luteran Named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week
Nebraska track and field sophomore Petra Luteran was named the Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week on Jan. 31. Luteran earned her first career honor after setting a new personal best in the high jump at the Air Force Invitational with a clearance of 6-0 3/4 (1.85m). Luteran’s mark is the best in the Big Ten this season and is tied for the second-best jump in NCAA Division I. 

2018 Men’s Indoor Season Outlook
The Husker men finished fourth at the Big Ten Indoor Championships last year and - behind a strong senior class - will look to get back to the form that saw them win the conference title in 2016 and 2015. Cody Walton was the Big Ten heptathlon champion last year with 5,672 points and ranks third all-time at Nebraska in the event. Fellow indoor Big Ten champions on the roster include Landon Bartel (2016 high jump) and Kaiwan Culmer (2016 triple jump). Culmer was the Huskers’ only NCAA Indoor Championships qualifier last year, where he finished sixth in the triple jump.

Nebraska will benefit from the return of a healthy Malcolm White, whose 2017 season was shortened by injury. White has top-10 all-time marks in the 60 meters (6.73) and 200 meters (20.94) and owns three Big Ten silver medals in his career. Fellow senior Antoine Lloyd, who also was injured throughout the 2017 indoor season, will look to contend for conference titles in the 60 meters and 60-meter hurdles, events he finished second and third in, respectively, as a sophomore in 2016. Andy Neal, Sam Bransby and Moujtaba Mohammed were part of the 4x400-meter relay that finished third last year. Neal also placed fifth in the 400 meters, while Mohammed was fourth in the 600 meters.

Elijah Lucy (fourth, long jump) and triple jumpers Jace Anderson (sixth) and Isaiah Griffith (seventh) return to lead the Huskers along with Culmer in the horizontal jumps. Griffith went on to have a breakout outdoor campaign and will look to contend for conference titles in his sophomore season. The Huskers are experienced at high jump with Bartel and senior Grant Anderson, who both scored at last year’s indoor championships. Mike McCann, who also scored last year, only has outdoor eligibility remaining. Noah Gabel is one of the top returning multi-event athletes in the Big Ten, along with Walton, and the duo is set to rack up team points once again in the heptathlon.

2018 Women’s Indoor Season Outlook
The Nebraska women showed great potential at last year’s indoor championships with a number of freshmen showing well against the conference’s best athletes, and the more experienced Huskers will look to make a climb up the team standings this year after finishing eighth last season.

Junior shot putter Toni Tupper was third at last year’s indoor meet and continued to show major improvement throughout the outdoor season and is one of the top returning throwers in the conference. Senior Reka Czuth, a first-team All-American in the high jump and a Big Ten champion in both the high jump and long jump during her career, will look to return from an injury-plagued 2017 season to finish among the conference’s elite jumpers this season. Angela Mercurio is one of the top returning triple jumpers in the Big Ten after finishing fifth last year indoors and third outdoors. Petra Luteran was the top freshman high jumper in the Big Ten last year and will look to build on her fourth-place finish at the outdoor championships.

Lakayla Harris leads a young and talented group of sprinters. Harris was seventh in the 60 meters and eighth in the 200 meters last year. Junior Jasmine Barge placed eighth in the 60-meter hurdles in 2017. Pole vaulter Andy Jacobs will miss the indoor season with a wrist injury. Jacobs was a highlight for the NU women last year after finishing second in the pole vault at both conference meets last year as a freshman.

Husker Men Claim Dual Meet Championship in 2017; Women Finish Third
The Nebraska men’s track and field team won the 2017 Dual Meet National Championship as determined by Track & Field News Magazine. It marked the first time the Husker men were crowned dual-meet champions since the final rankings switched to absolute - including both the indoor and outdoor seasons - in 2013. The Husker men finished off a perfect 15-0 indoor and outdoor dual-meet record after winning the team title at the Red Raider Shootout in Lubbock, Texas. With a decisive win over the then-No. 3 Red Raiders, the Huskers extended their streak to 20 straight dual-meet wins dating back to 2001. In that span, the Huskers have beaten 53 opponents.

Despite the win streak, the Huskers were never able to finish higher than second (in 2016) in the final rankings, which were discontinued from 2006 through 2012. In 2017, Nebraska maintained the top spot in the rankings throughout the outdoor season and earned the first-ever dual-meet title for a Big Ten men’s program since the rankings began in 1968. The women (14-1) finished No. 3 in the rankings behind LSU and Oklahoma. It was their best final ranking since finishing second in 2004.

To be ranked in the dual-meet rankings, a team must compete in one or more dual meets (defined as a scored meet between four or fewer teams). Teams are ranked on wins and losses, marks, and strength and depth of dual-meet schedule. Teams are rewarded for taking dual meets seriously.

Pepin Still Going Strong at the Helm for the Huskers
The all-time winningest track and field coach in the history of the Big 12 and the former Big Eight Conference, Nebraska Head Coach Gary Pepin will enter his 38th season as the head coach of the Nebraska men’s and women’s track and field teams in 2018, making him the longest tenured active coach in Cornhusker athletics and among Big Ten track and field programs.

Pepin is a USTFCCCA Hall of Fame member and has led the Husker programs to a combined three national team titles, 72 conference team titles, 59 individual national champions and 561 individual conference champions. Additionally, 515 first-team All-America honors have been achieved under Pepin, and 58 CoSIDA Academic All-America honors have been earned under Pepin’s guidance, which dates back to 1981 for the women’s program and 1984 for the men’s team.

Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011-12, Pepin’s teams have won five Big Ten championships, including a men’s sweep of the indoor and outdoor titles in 2016. The Husker men claimed the Track & Field News Dual-Meet National Championship in 2017, as they finished an unbeaten season in dual, tri and quad meets. Individually, Huskers have captured 48 Big Ten event titles, including four in 2017.

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