Track & Field: Husker Men Win Indoor B1G Title

Posted By: Sports

sports@klkntv.com

Story Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

GENEVA, Ohio – The Nebraska men’s track and field team took home its first Big Ten Track and Field Indoor Championship on Saturday evening, running away with the trophy with 127 points at the SPIRE Institute.

The Huskers entered the day with a seven-point lead on Penn State but got event titles from Oladapo Akinmoladun (60m hurdles) and James White (high jump) to roll to their 36th all-time conference indoor title and first since joining the Big Ten. Illinois was second with 86 points. Minnesota was third with 76.

The win gave legendary head coach Gary Pepin his 30th career indoor team championship and 70th career overall conference title in his 35th year at the helm. The Husker men won an indoor conference championship for the first time since 2007 in the Big 12. It’s the second overall Big Ten title for the Husker men, as they won the 2013 outdoor title.

The Nebraska women finished the weekend with 65 points to tie for fifth with Michigan State. Ohio State was the women’s team champion with 84 points. Penn State and Purdue tied for third with 68.

The Husker men briefly fell out of the lead after the morning results, but Akinmoladun’s repeat title in the 60m hurdles, along with a third-place finish from Sean Pille in the event, turned the tide. The Huskers never looked back and all but clinched the title after the men’s high jump in which White and freshman Landon Bartel posted a 1-2 finish.

Akinmoladun defended his Big Ten 60m hurdles indoor title with a run of 7.72, his best of the season. He saved both of his two top times this season for the Big Ten Championships. The victory was extra special this time for Akinmoladun because he shared the podium with Pille, who was third with a PR 7.81. The 16 team points boosted the Husker men into the lead.

“It just feels so good to be able to come in here and compete well and get a winning score for my team,” Akinmoladun said. “Sean and I talked about running a scoring race. Being able to score high was huge for the team race. I just wanted to make sure I gave it every single thing I have, and so I’m really happy that we were able to get a 1-3.”

Levi Gipson followed with a third-place finish in the 600m (1:17.00), while freshman Moujtaba Mohammed was fourth (1:18.29). After Ricco Hall took second in the 200 meters in 20.95, the men’s high jump concluded with White and Bartel the last men standing, and the Huskers were far and away ahead of the pack. White topped out at a season-best 7-3 1/4, while Bartel finished at 7-2 1/4, a PR. White’s jump not only earned him a gold medal, it moved him to No. 7 in the nation.

The Huskers capped the day with a runner-up finish in the 4×400 relay. Hall, Gipson, Jacob Bender and Cody Rush ran a 3:07.04, finishing just .02 behind Illinois.

Earlier in the day, Devandrew Johnson put together his best indoor effort as a Husker with a jump of 50-7 1/4 in the finals of the triple jump. He finished fifth in the event. Freshman Kaiwan Culmer also picked the right time for a PR in the triple jump, leaping 50-6 1/4 to grab a sixth-place finish. Rush ran an oversized school record of 45.91 to finish third in the 400 meters. His time moved him up to No. 6 in the nation. Bender was sixth (47.13).

Noah Gabel and Guy Fenske both earned points for the Huskers in the heptathlon. Gabel was seventh with 5,371 points, while Fenske was eighth with 5,208 points. Both were PRs.

For the women, senior Marusa Cernjul finished second in the high jump after a jump-off with Maryland’s Amber Melville. Both athletes cleared up to 6-1 1/4 without a miss and then missed on four attempts at 6-2. After the bar was lowered to 6-1 1/4, Melville cleared it in one try after Cernjul missed. Reka Czuth was sixth, clearing 5-9 3/4 to match her PR.

Brittany Johnson grabbed the silver medal in the 200m, running a PR 23.56. Earlier in the day, Johnson ran a PR 7.44 in the 60m, the fifth-best time in NU history and good for fifth place.

Shawnice Williams posted a third-place finish in the 600m in 1:30.13, while Karolina Pahlitzschwas fifth in 1:30.67. Ellie Ewere was third in the triple jump at 42-7. Reka Czuth (40-2 3/4) andMollie Gribbin (40-1 1/4) were sixth and seventh, respectively.

The Big Ten Network will air tape-delayed coverage of the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships at 9:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, March 8.

The Huskers will now await the announcement of the athletes who qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 13-14.