NEB T&F: Huskers Host Graduate Classic to Begin 2018 Season

Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

Graduate Classic
Jan. 12-13 • Lincoln, Neb. (Bob Devaney Sports Center Indoor Track)
Start Times: Friday – 4 p.m.; Saturday – Noon
Live Results:

Teams: Barton County CC, Butler CC, Cloud County CC, Concordia, Cowley CC, Drake, Fort Hays State, Garden City CC, Iowa Western CC, Midland, Missouri Western, Nebraska, Nebraska-Kearney, Nebraska Wesleyan, Northwest Missouri State, Omaha, UMKC, Washburn, Wayne State

The Nebraska track and field team opens its 2018 campaign by hosting the Graduate Classic at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Indoor Track on Friday and Saturday. The 19-team meet will begin on Friday at 4 p.m. Saturday’s competition will begin at Noon. Live results can be followed at

The field for the inaugural Graduate Classic includes 19 teams, including Division I foes Drake, Omaha and UMKC.

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 4×400-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 seniors Grant Anderson and Mike McCann, who both scored at last year’s indoor championships. 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.

Distance runner Wyatt McGuire finished 11th in the 5,000 meters at last year’s indoor meet but made a big jump up to fourth at the outdoor 5,000 meters. He owns one of the five fastest indoor 5,000-meter times in NU history and will look to become the first Husker to score in the indoor 5,000 meters since David Adams won the event in the Big 12 Conference in 2010.

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.

Andy Jacobs will lead the NU women after finishing second in the pole vault at both conference meets last year as a freshman. Junior shot putter Toni Tupper was third at last year’s indoor meet and continued to show major improvement throughout the outdoor season. 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.

Last Time On the Track
Three meet records were set and fans got their first chance to see the 2018 Nebraska track and field team in action on December 9, as the red team defeated the white team by a score of 130-120 at the annual intrasquad meet at the Devaney Center Indoor Track. Senior Nick Percy bested his own meet record in the weight throw, as he won the event with a throw of 65-11 3/4 (20.11m). Ashleigh Carr won the women’s 600m with a time of 1:32.20, which set a meet record. The women’s 4x400m relay team of Lakayla Harris, Kierra Griggs, Haley Harsin and Chelsey Jones shaved nearly three seconds off the meet record, as they won the event with a time of 3:45.99. All-American Kaiwan Culmer won the triple jump with a mark of 51-3 (15.62m).

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.

Huskers Led by 13 Team Captains
The Nebraska track and field team has 13 team captains for the 2018 season. The men’s captains are Landon Bartel, Sam Bransby, Kaiwan Culmer, Antoine Lloyd, Wyatt McGuire, Nick Percy and Cody Walton. The women’s captains are Jasmine Barge, Kristen Dowell, Andy Jacobs, Petra Luteran, Angela Mercurio and Brittni Wolczyk.

2017 Indoor Season Review
• Kaiwan Culmer was a first-team All-American in the triple jump in 2017 with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Culmer set a PR of 52-8 3/4 (16.07m) during the season, the seventh-best indoor jump in school history. He was the only Husker to qualify for indoor nationals last season.
• Cody Walton was the Huskers’ lone Big Ten champion in the indoor season. Walton won the heptathlon with 5,672 points, the third-highest point total in school history.
• The Husker men fell short of their quest for a third straight Big Ten indoor title, as they finished fourth with 72 points.
• The Husker women scored 48 points and finished eighth overall.
• Tierra Williams was second in both the triple jump and long jump. Williams graduated last year.
• Fellow graduate Steven Cahoy was the runner-up in the pole vault at the conference meet for the third straight indoor season.
• Freshman Andy Jacobs was the women’s pole vault runner-up.