NU Track and Field headed to Eugene for NCAA regionals

The Nebraska track and field team will head to Eugene, Ore., on Tuesday, May 24 for the NCAA West Preliminary Round at Hayward Field. The Huskers will practice at the track on Wednesday and will then compete for bids to the NCAA Championships during the three-day meet starting Thursday. The national meet will be hosted in Des Moines, Iowa, at Bulldog Stadium on Wednesday, June 8 – Saturday, June 11.


The country is split into two regions, with the top-48 athletes in each event in the West Region competing in Eugene and the top-48 athletes in the East Region competing in Bloomington, Ind. To advance to the NCAA Championships, athletes and relay teams will need to secure a top-12 finish in their event.


The decathlon and heptathlon are the only events not competed at the regional meet. Nebraska's Chantae McMillan (heptathlon) and Bjorn Barrefors (decathlon) have already secured their spots at the national meet.


Including relay members, the Huskers will have 26 women and 19 men in competition, including Arna Erega, who will compete in 100 hurdles, long jump and triple jump. 15 other Huskers are scheduled to compete in two events.


The meet is scheduled for a Noon (CT) start each day, with the women's javelin opening the meet on Thursday, while the first track event will be the first round of the women's 400-meter hurdles at 5:30 p.m. On Friday, the women's hammer starts the day and the first round of the women's 100-meter hurdles opens the track at 5 p.m. The final day will being with the women's discus, while the women's 4×100-meter relay will be the first track event at 3 p.m. and the men's 4×400-meter relay will conclude the meet at 6:45 p.m.


Live results of the entire meet will be available at Oregon will also provide a live stream of the event on its website, The live stream will start at 5:30 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, 5 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.


Latvian Leaper

At the Kansas Relays on Saturday, April 23, freshman Mara Griva not only posted the top mark in the long jump by a freshman, but also took over the NCAA lead with her wind-aided leap of 21-7 1/4 (+2.1 m/s). Griva then took the jump even farther at the Big 12 Championships with her winning leap of 21-11 3/4 (+3.6).


Griva went on to win the triple jump as well with a personal-best and John Jacobs Track Complex record jump of 45-3 3/4. The triple jump mark ranks third nationally and is the top leap in the West Region.


With the sweep at the Big 12 outdoor meet, Griva won all four horizontal jump titles during the year as she also swept the indoor crowns.


She joined a pair of Huskers as the only women's jumpers in Big 12 history to sweep the indoor and outdoor horizontal jump titles in the same season. The other NU jumpers to pull off the feat were Dalhia Ingram in 2000 and Ineta Radevica in 2004.


Griva also moved to the No. 2 spot on NU's all-time triple jump performance list behind Radevica's school-record jump of 46-4 from 2004.


Leaving on Top

Following a second-place finish from the NU women and fourth-place finish from the men's team, the Huskers will leave the Big 12 Conference as the league's winningest program.


The Huskers won 51 Big Eight titles during the conference's history from 1974-1996 and Nebraska continued to dominate the conference after the league changed to the Big 12 in 1997. NU won a league-high 23 team titles, including the program's historic 100th conference team title in 2007.


The Huskers added their 101st and 102nd titles during the 2009 and 2010 outdoor seasons when the men's squad became the first men's team in Big 12 history to win back-to-back team titles at the outdoor conference meet.


Indoors, the NU men won a conference-best nine conference titles, including six straight from 2000 to 2005, while Texas won four and Oklahoma had one championship.  The men also hold the lead outdoors with six team titles, while the Longhorns are next in line with four titles.


Including their win during the 2011 indoor season, the NU women won a  conference-best six indoor crowns and it was their first team win since 2005 when they won a second straight title.


Head Coach Gary Pepin was also unmatched in the Big 12 as his 23 team titles more than doubleed any other coach in the conference. Texas' Bev Kearney is in a distance second with her 11 trophies as the Longhorn women's head coach.


Home for Heptathletes

The Nebraska women's heptathletes will leave the Big 12 with one of the most dominate single-event runs in conference history. Following Chantae McMillan's second straight title in the heptathlon, the Husker women won the event seven years in a row. Ashley Selig started the run in 2005 and won a second title in 2007, while Sara Jane Baker took top honors in 2006, Megan Wheatley won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009 before Chantae McMillan took the crown in 2010 and 2011. The Huskers' run in the heptathlon is unmatched by any other women's team in the conference, as only Kansas (1998-99) and Missouri (2003-04) have earned consecutive titles, with each winning back-to-back crowns.


Overall on the women's side, only Texas won more consecutive championships in a single event, including eight in the 400 hurdles (1999-2006) and 10 in 4x100m (1997-2006).


Willer's Run at History

After a pair of runner-up finishes in the pole vault as a freshman, Natalie Willer swept the indoor and outdoor titles as a sophomore in 2009. She then had to settle for a pair or second-place finishes last season to Texas Tech freshman Shade Weygandt.


After capturing gold at the indoor championships earlier this year with a school- and meet-record vault of 14-4, Willer became the first women's vaulter in Big 12 history to sweep the vault twice with her winning vault of 14-2 1/2 at the outdoor championships.


Mid-Distance Miller

Ashley Miller captured her first Big 12 title with a personal-best time of 4:18.70 in the 1,500 meters. A fifth-place finisher in 2009 and a fourth-place finisher in 2010, Miller sat fourth with roughly 600 meters left in the race. The Husker junior found another gear and started moving up through the field before sprinting to victory over Iowa State's Lucy Kennedy (4:20.98). Miller is the second Husker to win the event in the Big 12 era, joining 2005 Big 12 and national champion Anne Shadle. She will now enter the West Region ranked sixth and will look to earn her first bid to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Miller qualified in the indoor mile during the 2010 season.


Prestigious Pepin

Nebraska's Big 12 women's title during the 2011 indoor season added to the historic 31-year resume of Head Coach Gary Pepin, who now holds 67 conference titles dating back to his first Big Eight win at the 1981 indoor meet. As a member of the Big 12 Conference, Pepin's program captured a league-best 23 track and field titles, which also makes him the second-winningest coach in Big 12 history across all sports. Pepin trails Colorado's Mark Wetmore, who has 24 conference titles as the head coach of the Buffs' men's and women's cross country and track and field programs.