Lubbock, Texas – Following a dominating 148-point performance this weekend at the 2009 Big 12 Outdoor Championships, the No. 5 Nebraska men’s track and field team will bring home the program’s historic 100th conference crown. The win marks the team’s fifth Big 12 outdoor title and 14th overall title in the Big 12’s 13-year era.
Texas A&M women hold off Texas Tech and Nebraska for historic conference title.
The men took the team lead on Friday afternoon following the fourth event of the meet, the men’s high jump, taking a 31-30 lead over Kansas State. The Huskers would continue to add points over the next 17 events, never relinquishing the lead, even with runner-up Texas A&M making a strong push on day two, finishing with 126 points.
The win marks Head Coach Gary Pepin’s 21st team championship in the Big 12 era, the most for any coach in the conference, 10 wins ahead of Texas’ Beverly Kearney, who owns 11 titles. The 21 combined titles for the Husker men and women is also a conference high, one ahead of Texas, who won its 20th title during the 2009 indoor season with a win on the men’s side.
The men’s 148 points are the most for the Huskers since 2004, when NU scored a Big 12 record 172 team points. Individually, the Huskers had four men win their first Big 12 outdoor title over the three-day meet, including Paul Hamilton (high jump), Seth Burney (pole vault), Nicholas Gordon (long jump) and Adam Dailey (400-meter hurdles), with Gordon winning his second overall title after winning the long jump during the 2009 indoor season.
On the women’s side, the Huskers finished third with 109.5 points, 1.5 points behind runner-up Texas Tech and 17 points behind meet champion Texas A&M. The women entered the day with the lead, but were unable to hold off the Aggies, who won their third straight outdoor title. Individually, Megan Wheatley successfully defended her title in the heptathlon, while Natalie Willer added her first outdoor pole vault title after also winning the indoor crown.
Dailey and the men’s 400-meter hurdle crew put the meet away for good with a 1-2-7-8 finish, as Dailey won his first Big 12 title, posting a time of 50.96. A sophomore from Wahoo, Neb., Dailey took the lead on the final hurdle and never looked back, becoming the men’s first 400-meter hurdle conference champion since Mark Harrison in 2006. Lehann Fourie followed in second (51.22), Kirkland Thornton in seventh (53.71) and Tyrell Ross in eighth (59.92).
“I knew I had something left in the second-to-last hurdler,” Dailey said. “I was in third and the top two were battling. I knew if they didn’t hit that last hurdle right and I did, I could pull ahead.”
Prior to the 400-meter hurdles, Thornton, Fourie and Ross finished 2-3-6 in the 110-meter hurdles. Thornton’s time of 13.71 was second best to Omoghan Osaghae of Texas Tech, who ran 13.49. Fourie finished third at 13.74 and Ross in sixth with a time of 13.94.
On the women’s side, Sophomore Natalie Willer completed the 2009 sweep of the women’s pole vault on Saturday with a jump of 13-11 1/4. Willer struggled a bit on the day, taking at least two attempts at four of the five bars she cleared. After passing at the first two heights, Willer had a second-attempt clearance at 12-7 1/2 and then came through at 12-11 1/2, leaving only her and Texas Tech’s Amanda Alley in the field. Willer followed with a clearance at 13-3 1/2 on her final attempt, then Alley missed, clinching Willer her first outdoor title. Willer then cleared 13-7 1/4 and 13-11 1/4 on her second attempt at each bar. Next, the Elkhorn, Neb., native took the bar up to 14-5 1/2, which would have been a new personal best and meet record, but she was unable to clear. With the win, Willer joins Jenny Green (2003) as the only Husker women in school history to sweep the conference indoor and outdoor titles in the same season.
“There is always pressure,” Willer said when asked how it felt being the favorite coming into the meet. “I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone puts on me. You want to go out there and represent your team and help them get some points.”
Willer was joined on the award stand by teammates Cami Jiskra, Lindsey Maher and Breanna Bussel. Jiskra and Maher each cleared the regional-qualifying standard of 12-7 1/2, with Jiskra finishing third and Maher fifth on more misses. Bussel tied for sixth with Alyson Dailey of Texas A&M with a vault of 12-1 1/2.
The men’s throwers capped their impressive weekend with a second- and fifth-place finish in the shot put. Junior Trey Jordan took runner-up honors with a toss of 60-6 1/2, while senior Keith Lloyd finished fifth with a toss of 57-7 1/2 on his final attempt of the meet. In the hammer throw, discus and shot put, Throws Coach Mark Colligan saw his group contribute 35 points to the men’s 148-point total.
The Husker women started the day strong in the jumps, with Epley Bullock finishing second in the high jump for the second straight year with a leap of 6-0 1/2, while Audrey Svane improved on her fifth place finish from 2008 with a third-place clearance at 5-8 3/4. Bullock was on fire after entering at the 5-6 1/2 bar, clearing five straight bars on her first attempt. After clearing 6-0 1/2 on her final attempt, Bullock was unable to clear 6-1 1/2 and move on with champion Destinee Hooker. After placing third in the long jump on Friday night, junior Leandra McGruder returned on Saturday to finish sixth in the triple jump with a leap of 41-9 3/4. McGruder was joined in the top eight by true freshman Tara Korshoj, who matched her personal best with a seventh-place jump of 41-6 1/2.
In the women’s throws, Roxi Grizzle earned her first All-Big 12 honor with a sixth-place finish in the women’s javelin. After entering the finals ranked eighth in the competition, the true freshman from DeSoto, Kan., posted a season-best throw of 149-1 on her fifth attempt to move to sixth. Then in the shot put, Kacie Sharp produced a personal-best throw of 52-8 1/4 to finish fourth, topping her previous best of 50-6. With the mark, the senior is expected to move into the NCAA top 20.
In the first running event of the day, the 4×100-meter relay, the men’s team of Dax Danns, Thornton, Lukas Hulett and Scott Wims finished third with a time of 39.80, trying their season best. Danns then returned to finish seventh in the 100 meters (10.89) and eighth in the 200 meters (22.29). True freshman Dale Ervin joined Danns in the 200, earning his first All-Big 12 honor with a fifth-place time of 21.32. Hulett capped the sprints with a fifth-place finish in the 400 meters, running 46.32.
In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the women’s group of Rachel Carrizales, Joslyn Dalton, Jessica Furlan and Jen Webers scored 13 points. Carrizales led the way in third at 10:30.09, followed by Dalton in fifth (10:49.16), Furlan in seventh (10:56.23) and Webers in eighth (10:59.50). Then men followed with two All-Big 12 performers, as David Adams finished third with a time of 9:04.90 and Brian Parr in eighth with a time of 9:11.47.
Ashley Miller added her name to the regional qualifying list in the 1,500 meters with a fifth-place time of 4:29.44. The Tipton, Iowa, native also recorded a personal-best time, topping her previous best of 4:29.85. True freshmen Blaire Dinsdale and Erica Hamik then each earned their first All-Big 12 honor with top-eight finishes in the 800-meter run. Dinsdale came in sixth (2:10.94) and Hamik eighth (2:15.17).
The Husker women capped the meet with Lara Crofford finishing sixth in the 5K with a time of 16:57.51. The men’s 4×400-meter relay of Dailey, Cylend Simmons, Eric Lund and Blaise Rewaka ended the meet with a time of 3:10.34.