ANN ARBOR, Mich. The Nebraska track and field team earned two Big Ten individual titles and combined for a total of seven medals on the first day of the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the U-M Indoor Track Building on Friday.
Freshman Mayson Conner was crowned the high jump champion after clearing a personal-best 7-3 3/4 (2.23m), which put him in a tie for ninth in school history and No. 10 in the nation this season. Conner had the competition locked up as the only jumper to clear 7-2 1/4 (2.19m), and he was perfect through that height. The McCool Junction native went on to achieve a new personal best and give the Husker men the Big Ten indoor high jump title for the fifth time in the last six years.
Senior Elijah Lucy earned the gold medal in the long jump for the first time in his career after finishing fourth at each of the three previous Big Ten indoor meets. Lucy jumped a personal-best 25-2 (7.67m) on his final attempt, though he didn't need it as four of his jumps on the day would have won the competition. He finished on top by more than one foot.
"It feels good just trying to finish off my senior year in a positive way," Lucy said. "I kept trying to push the lead, just keep on jumping farther. It feels sweet, but with outdoor season coming up, I'm still looking for improvement."
The Husker men scored 41 team points and lead Penn State (30) and Indiana (27). The Husker women are in fourth place with 25 points, behind only Indiana (37), Wisconsin (35) and Michigan State (27).
The NU men scored 21 of their 41 points in the men's high jump. Sophomore Miles Griffith placed second with a personal-best jump of 7-1 (2.16m). The St. Paul, Nebraska native hit his PR on his first attempt. Michael Hoffer scored three team points for the Big Red in the event, finishing sixth at 6-9 3/4 (2.08m).
The Husker women collected 19 of their 25 team points in the long jump with a 2-3-4 finish. Shylia Riley took second with a personal-best mark of 20-0 1/4 (6.10m). The Omaha native hit that mark on her third attempt, and she edged teammates Zionn Pearson and Ieva Turke. Pearson, a freshman who came into the meet seeded 20th in the event, captured the bronze medal with a personal-best mark of 19-11 3/4 (6.09m). Turke took fourth with an indoor PR of 19-11 /2 (6.08m).
Sophomore Andy Jacobs finished third in the pole vault to take the bronze medal. Jacobs cleared 13-3 (4.04m) to secure her third-career Big Ten medal in three meets.
Freshman George Kusche earned the bronze medal in the 3,000 meters, finishing in 8:26.82. Kusche picked up his second-career Big Ten medal, but first on the track, as he was the bronze medalist at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships in the fall.
The men's distance medley relay team (Jordan De Spong, Cody Mroczek, Karson LeComte and Wyatt McGuire) placed fifth with a time of 9:51.81 to score four team points for the Big Red.
In preliminary action, Lakayla Harris posted the fastest 60-meters qualifying time of 7.37, a personal best that ranks fourth in school history. She will race in Saturday's final. She will also be in the 200 meters after winning her heat in 23.96. Luke Siedhoff won his 60-meter hurdles heat in 7.87 to qualify for Saturday's final, as did Vincent Ohlman (8.02).
Jasmine Barge posted a time of 8.38 in the women's 60-meter hurdles to win her heat and advance to the final, while Chanel Freeman also moved on with a time of 8.53. Isaiah Hutchinson advanced in the 60 meters with a time of 6.78.
Jessi Smith qualified for the final in the 600 meters with a personal-best time of 1:31.88, the seventh-fastest time in school history.
Kusche won his mile heat in 4:07.77 to earn an automatic spot in Saturday's final. Ty Moss advanced to the 600 meters final in 1:19.04. Moss was the silver medalist in the event last year.
After day one of the heptathlon, all three Husker men are in scoring position. Jared Seay is in second place with 3,260 points; Cale Wagner is fourth with 3,186 points, and Zach Podraza is eighth with 2,910 points. Seay won the long jump competition with a jump of 23-10 (7.26m), while Wagner was second at 23-7 1/4 (7.19m) and Podraza set a PR of 22-1 3/4 (6.75m). Podraza also had a PR in the shot put at 40-3 1/2 (12.28m), while Seay was second in that event at 44-10 1/4 (13.67m). Wagner placed second in the high jump after clearing a personal-best 6-7 1/2 (2.02m), and Seay also cleared that height. Wisconsin's Zach Lorbeck leads Seay by 40 points entering Saturday's final three events.
Johanna Ilves competed in the pentathlon on Friday. After opening the day tying her personal best in the 60-meter hurdles (8.82), Ilves went on to finish 12th with 3,589 points.
Day two of the Big Ten Indoor Championships begins on Saturday at 9 a.m. (CT) with the heptathlon and field events. Track events will begin at 10:40 a.m.