LINCOLN — After an offseason that saw an overhaul of the coaching staff and new philosophies, the Nebraska track team is looking to win its first Big Ten indoor tag team championship since the men won in 2019.
Coach Gary Pepin was hoping to breathe new life into the program, which has fallen short of its goals in recent years. So he replaced four of his 2021 assistants – Scott Cappos, Matt Martin, David Harris and TJ Pierce – for Justin St. Clair. , Brenton Emanuel, Matt Wackerly and Nikki Larch-Miller. All NU volunteer coaches in 2022 are also different. Only Dusty Jonas, who trains high jumpers and sprinters, was selected.
The new roster will look to help the Huskers at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Geneva, Ohio.
“I felt like there were events and areas in our team that we hadn’t done very well over the past few years, and we needed to improve and improve, so I went out and j tried to find people who I think could help us improve our team,” said Pepin.
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One of those new additions is Emanuel, who spent three seasons as head coach at Eastern Illinois before joining the Husker staff.
“Coach Pépin, a very renowned trainer. I’ve been doing it for a long time,” Emanuel said. “I thought he was someone I could definitely learn a lot from.”
Emanuel, who works with sprinters and hurdles, is excited for the weekend ahead. For Nebraska to achieve its goals, it’s important to start early, he said.
“It’s about how we start,” Emanuel said. “The first events unfold, having success in those events. It usually takes a catalyst to get the team really fired up, and it snowballs from there.
Cloud Training, a platform that projects competition results based on data pulled from track and field results reporting systems, predicts the Nebraska men’s team will come in second place, behind Iowa, and the women’s team in seventh place.
The throw gives the Nebraska men’s team the overall points advantage in the high jump, shot put and shot put.
Leading the male throwers are Burger Lambrechts, No. 1 in the Big Ten in the shot put, and senior Alex Talley, second in the shot put and first in the shot put.
Pepin said that to win a conference title, a team must have strong athletes in many events.
“There are some really good people in there,” he said. “The question is, are you tired of these really good people?”
With the Big Ten conference getting better every year, Pepin said it was time for NU to re-evaluate its philosophy when building its team. In previous years, Nebraska tried to build a well-rounded team to cover all events.
“It’s not about winning championships anymore,” he said. “What wins championships now is which school has the most outstanding athletes. So the approach we’ve tried to take here – while trying to have as much of a versatile team as possible – is to have really exceptional athletes.
Pepin said there are areas that NU are always trying to improve for both teams. Much of the improvement, he said, is happening on the recruiting track.
But for now, the focus is on this weekend.
Nebraska has the Big Ten’s top male and female high jumpers in Mayson Conner and Jenna Rogers. Darby Thomas, Mikaelle Assani and Lishanna Ilves are the top three in the Big Ten in the women’s long jump. Freshman female shot putter Axelina Johansson is second in the Big Ten behind defending national champion and Olympian Adelaide Aquilla of Ohio State.
In a year that has seen so much turnover in the coaching staff, Pépin has really enjoyed coaching this team and seeing the athletes progress.
“This team has probably been one of the most fun teams to coach, I would say, that we’ve had in a long time,” Pepin said.