Jasmine Barge and the Huskers will compete at the John McDonnell Invitational this weekend.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Return to Action at John McDonnell Invitational

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska’s full team is back in action this week, as the Huskers will compete against some of the top teams in the nation at the John McDonnell Invitational, hosted by Arkansas this Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The field for the John McDonnell Invitational includes Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Oral Roberts, Missouri State and Southwest Baptist.

The meet begins with field events starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, with Saturday’s action getting underway at 11 a.m. as well. A live results link can be found here.

Some of Nebraska's throwers will also be in action at the Triton Invitational in La Jolla, California, on Friday and Saturday.

The Husker men are ranked 14th in this week’s USTFCCCA Rankings, while the women are 25th. The Nebraska men are second in the Track and Field News Dual Meet Rankings, and the women are No. 14.

Nebraska athletes are well-represented in the national top-50, as 11 Husker men and 10 Husker women are among the top times in the nation. Nick Percy has the top mark in the nation in the discus with a throw of 205-1 (62.50m) and also ranks 21st in the hammer throw, while Brittni Wolczyk is ranked 15th in the javelin with a throw of 170-2 (51.86m).

Last Time On the Track
Nebraska’s full team was last in action at the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational the weekend of March 23-24, when the Husker men took first and the women placed second. Seven Huskers won individual event titles, including Nick Percy who won the discus title with a throw of 205-0 (62.50m), which is still the top mark in the nation. Brittni Wolczyk won the javelin title with a throw of 170-2 (51.86m), which ranks third in the Big Ten. In addition, Husker athletes have competed at the Texas Relays, Florida Relays, San Francisco State Distance Carnival, Iowa Western Spring Classic and Spec Towns Invitational in the last two weeks. 

Percy Named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week
Following his performance at the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational where he won the discus title with the top mark in the country and placed second in the hammer throw, Nick Percy was named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week on March 28. The 2016 NCAA discus champion, Percy posted a throw of 205-1 (62.50m), just under three feet off his personal best. He also notched a mark of 215-3 (65.62m) in the hammer throw at the meet. The honor was the fourth Big Ten weekly award of his career.

Huskers Earn Highest Preseason Ranking in Last 10 Years
The Nebraska track and field teams began the outdoor season ranked in the top 20 of the USTFCCCA Rankings. The Nebraska men began the season at No. 9, as the Big Red were the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the preseason poll. The Husker women came in at No. 16. Both rankings matched the best preseason outdoor ranking by either Husker team in the last 10 years.

2018 Nebraska Men’s Outdoor Season Preview
The Nebraska men finished third at last year’s Big Ten Outdoor Championships with 97 points, and 80 of those 97 points return on this year’s team. Leading the way is two-time defending Big Ten discus champion and 2016 NCAA discus champion Nick Percy. The senior from Ventnor, England owns a personal best of 207-11 (63.38m), which is third in NU history. He is also the school record holder in the hammer throw at 222-7 (67.85m) and finished third in the Big Ten last year. Landon Bartel is coming off a Big Ten indoor high jump title and leads a strong unit for the Husker men, as he and Grant Anderson were both second-team indoor All-Americans this year. Mike McCann, who didn’t have indoor eligibility this season, is able to compete again outdoors after a breakout outdoor season last year that saw him earn second-team All-America honors. Kaiwan Culmer won the Big Ten indoor triple jump title this season for the second time in his career, and he is a two-time first-team All-American in the event. Antoine Lloyd is coming off an exceptional indoor season that saw him earn Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year. Lloyd was the NCAA runner-up and the Big Ten champion in the 60-meter hurdles. Outdoors, Lloyd will contend in the 110-meter hurdles, in which he was a second-team All-American in last year and was the Big Ten runner-up in 2016. Cody Walton will aim for first-team All-America honors in both the javelin and the decathlon. Walton was the Huskers’ only first-team All-American outdoors last year with a seventh-place finish in the decathlon. He is the school record holder in the event with 7,937 points. Isaiah Griffith was a second-team All-American last year in the long jump as a freshman, and he also competed in the triple jump at nationals. 

2018 Nebraska Women’s Outdoor Season Preview
The Nebraska women were sixth at last year’s Big Ten Outdoor Championships with 76 points and returns 60 of those points this season, although high jumper Petra Luteran, who finished fourth last year and was the Big Ten indoor runner-up this season, will likely miss the entire season with an injury. Brittni Wolczyk was the javelin champion with a personal-best throw of 178-9 (54.48m), and Sarah Firestone was the 2015 Big Ten javelin champion and owns the school record of 184-3 (56.15m). She missed last season with an injury. The Huskers hope to get pole vaulter Andy Jacobs back from an injury that kept her out of the indoor season. Jacobs was the Big Ten runner-up as a freshman last year. Jasmine Barge scored in both the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles last year and will be a top contender in both events. The women’s 4x400-meter relay earned the bronze medal at last year’s outdoor championships, and Angela Mercurio was the Big Ten indoor triple jump runner-up this season. Toni Tupper is a two-time bronze medalist in the shot put. 

Lloyd Named Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year; Finishes Second at NCAAs
Senior Antoine Lloyd was named the 2018 Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year after finishing second in the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a school-record time of 7.60. A native of Kentwood, Michigan, Lloyd is the first Husker male to be named a Big Ten track or field athlete of the year since the Huskers joined the conference in 2011-12. He achieved first-team All-America honors in the event for the first time and was one of just three Big Ten male athletes to finish in the top three in an event.Lloyd was the Big Ten indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles this season for the first time in his career as well. He won that race with a then-personal-best time of 7.68. Lloyd’s PR of 7.60 at the NCAA Championships topped Oladapo Akinmoladun’s 7.61 set in 2014. He finished second only to Florida’s Grant Holloway, the NCAA record holder in the 60-meter hurdles who won the event for the second straight year with a time of 7.47. Lloyd competed in seven 60-meter hurdles finals in 2018 and was the top collegiate finisher in all seven races.

Three Huskers Win B1G Indoor Titles; Men Finish Second
Nebraska track and field seniors Landon Bartel, Kaiwan Culmer and Antoine Lloyd all won individual Big Ten indoor titles, and the Nebraska men’s track and field team came within half a second of capturing the team title at the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute. 

Heading into the final event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay, Ohio State had 91.5 points and Nebraska had 89.5 points. Needing to outscore the Buckeyes by two points to at least share the team title, the Huskers’ relay of Sam Bransby, Moujtaba Mohammed, Elijah Lucy and Andy Neal ran the second-fastest time in NU indoor history, 3:05.53. But Ohio State finished in 3:05.09 to hold off the Huskers. Nebraska finished second with 93.5 points, while Ohio State won with 101.5 points. The Husker women finished ninth overall with 47.5 points.

Lloyd produced the best race of his career with a personal record of 7.68 to win the 60-meter hurdles title for the first time in his career. Lloyd, whose best finish in the event at the Big Ten meet was third in 2016, ran the third-fastest time in NU history and the No. 4 time in the NCAA this season, which will earn him a spot at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the first time. 
Culmer returned to the top of the podium in the triple jump with an indoor personal-best winning mark of 52-9 1/4 (16.08m). The Nassau, Bahamas native was the 2016 indoor champion in the event before finishing fourth last year. Culmer collected his third career Big Ten triple jump medal with his mark, which came on his first attempt and moved him to No. 9 in the nation. 
Bartel continued his outstanding indoor season with his second career Big Ten high jump title by clearing 7-2 1/4 (2.19m). Like Culmer, Bartel was the 2016 indoor champion but didn’t reach the medal stand at last year’s indoor meet. Bartel, whose personal best of 7-3 3/4 (2.23m) qualified him for the NCAA Indoor Championships, was the only jumper to clear 7-2 1/4 (2.19m) at the conference meet and did so on his second attempt. 

For the Husker women, Angela Mercurio was the runner-up in the triple jump with a mark of 42-2 3/4 (12.87m). Petra Luteran finished second in the high jump with a clearance of 5-11 1/4 (1.81m) on her third attempt. Lakayla Harris was the runner-up in the 60 meters as she matched her personal best of 7.38 that she set in prelims on Friday. Harris also picked up two team points in the 200 meters by finishing seventh in 23.71, a new personal best that ranks eighth in NU indoor history. Jasmine Barge was fifth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.43.
Nebraska’s Big Ten Indoor Champions
Landon Bartel, High Jump
Kaiwan Culmer, Triple Jump
Antoine Lloyd, 60-Meter Hurdles

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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