LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska men’s track and field team completed its first indoor-outdoor conference title sweep since 2004 by winning the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championship on Sunday at Ed Weir Stadium in front of 1,312 in attendance.
The Husker men scored 140.5 team points to win by 50 over Michigan (90.5). It’s the largest margin of victory by a Big Ten team at the outdoor meet since 2005. The Husker women finished in third place with 94 points. Michigan and Minnesota tied for the title with 106 points.
The men captured their 66th overall conference title and fourth since joining the Big Ten. For legendary head coach Gary Pepin, it marked his 72nd career conference title and 30th outdoors.
“We felt like we had a very good team, and that things were going to go well for us,” Pepin said. “We were very pleased to host and this was a super meet for us.”
The day ended in perfect fashion, as the NU men won the 4×400-relay title that had eluded them the past few years. After finishing second at the past two indoor championships and eighth at last year’s outdoor meet, the Huskers put a complete performance together to win with a Big Ten meet record 3:03.74, also the fourth-best time in NU history.
Senior and Lincoln native Levi Gipson set the tone, and Tanner Townsend ran a strong second leg for the injured Oliver Alexandre. Sam Bransby carried the Huskers into the lead within the first 100 meters of the third leg and gave anchor Cody Rush the lead. Rush, the senior captain from Grand Island, never relinquished the lead in winning the title in front of a standing ovation of Husker fans.
“It’s picture perfect,” Rush said. “You expect the crowd to be great, but it was just surreal coming out here on our home track. We already had the team title sewn up, but we knew we had fallen short by a couple tenths of a second before. We made sure that wasn’t going to happen. It was a perfect ending to a perfect meet.”
Bransby, a sophomore competing on the relay at a conference meet for the first time, fell behind by design at the exchange of his third leg before rallying 100 meters into his leg to give Rush the lead on the anchor.
“In my mind, if you get Cody Rush the lead on the anchor leg, you win the race,” Bransby said. “That was my goal going into my leg, to put Cody in the best position to finish.”
Both individual titles during the day came from Husker women. Reka Czuth won the high jump for the first time in her career, while Tierra Williams completed a double once again, winning the triple jump and long jump just as she did at the indoor championships. Czuth’s title came after she cleared 5-11 1/2 (1.82m) with fewer misses than two other competitors. It’s her second career Big Ten title, as she won the long jump outdoors last year. Czuth was also third in the long jump on Saturday, giving her two medals on the weekend.
Williams – the Auburn, Neb., product – set a personal best of 44-6 (13.56m), a new Big Ten meet record and the fifth-best jump in NU outdoor history. Her jump was nearly two feet better than the runner-up and gave her a sweep of the horizontal jumps in 2016. The last Big Ten female athlete to complete the triple jump and long jump sweep both indoors and outdoors was former Husker Mara Griva in 2013.
Malcolm White played a big role in the Huskers’ team title, finishing second in the 100 meters (10.60) and third in the 200 meters (21.14). He also took home a silver medal with the 4×100 relay team (with Ricco Hall, Antoine Lloyd and Rush) in 39.75, a season best.
Lloyd was also the runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 13.69, seventh-best in Husker history. Rush earned runner-up honors in the 400 meters with the fastest time of his career, 45.52, which moved him to No. 8 in the nation and No. 3 in school history.
Paula Andrie was the pole vault runner-up, clearing 13-11 3/4 (4.26m) on her first attempt. Kaiwan Culmer placed third in the triple jump with a personal-best mark of 52-7 1/2 (16.04m), the eighth-best jump in school history.
The athletes who qualify for the NCAA West Regional will compete in Lawrence, Kan. from May 26-28.