Throughout Nebraska track and field history, many of its greatest athletes have come from foreign countries. Some have claimed national titles and even represented their countries in the Olympics. For the women’s team, two Latvian athletes have competed in the Olympics: discus thrower Dace Ruskule and jumper Ineta Radevica.
Of the two, Radevica has been in more Olympics, competing in 2004 and 2012. That Latvian connection was something that attracted junior jumper Ieva Turke, and she’s looking to continue that legacy.
“Nebraska has a strong tradition of producing Latvian athletes who have been very successful,” Turke said. “Whether it’s competing in the Olympics or the World Championship, every single one has achieved outstanding accomplishments. Ineta Radevica was an amazing jumper here, and it’s people like her who are my role models and inspiration for continuing that tradition.”
As of now, Turke is Nebraska’s top indoor long jumper and triple jumper. According to tfrrs.org, Turke is also currently ranked 53rd in Division I in long jump (19 feet and 10 3/4 inches) and 19th in Division I in triple jump (43 feet and 1/2 inches). Prior to becoming a Husker, horizontal jumps weren’t her primary events.
Before she did horizontal jumps, Turke was a silver medalist at the U18 World Championships in high jump in 2015, where she cleared 1.82 meters. When Turke made the transition from vertical jumps to horizontal jumps, her personal bests were 18 feet and 11 3/4 inches (5.78m) in the long jump and 41 feet and 6 1/2 inches (12.66m) in the triple jump.
When she arrived at Nebraska, it started off much the same, as she finished the indoor season her freshman year with similar distances. However, that changed during the outdoor season as she finished fourth in the long jump (20 feet and 7 inches) and third in the triple jump (42 feet and 7 inches) at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
“Turke has improved very much in both long jump and the triple jump,” said Nebraska head coach Gary Pepin. “She is more confident as an athlete and more outgoing than she was as a freshman. She has a strong work ethic, sets high goals, is a self-starter and is very respected by our coaches and her peers.”
Entering her sophomore year, Turke continued to improve, crushing her indoor personal bests in both jumps. Turke redshirted during the outdoor season. During that year and throughout her time at Nebraska, Turke not only learned how to be a better athlete, but also how to be a good teammate.
“It was something I had to adjust to when I first arrived,” Turke said. “Competing in Latvia is much different because track and field is more of an individual sport there. Here, you compete for a college, you work and you score points for the team. But it has taught me how to work toward team goals.”
Along with Turke’s stellar marks in both jumps, she also helped the team by claiming five titles throughout the 2020 indoor season. Her triple jump mark of 43 feet and 1/2 inches (13.12 meters) is also her personal-best mark for both indoor and outdoor. This jump has Turke not only eyeing the chance of claiming a conference title, but also at qualifying for nationals.
“I’m definitely fighting for a conference title, but I’m also trying to jump a qualifying mark for indoor nationals. It’s really exciting,” Turke said. “Each year just keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season and the next few years have in store for me.”
Going forward, Pepin said Turke could continue to improve her speed and strength, but he believes her goal-setting nature will help her along the way.
Turke’s willingness to make it to the Olympics is strong, but she still has a focus on academics, with a major in nutrition, exercise and health science. Her plan is to become a registered dietitian and work in a sports nutrition-related field. Along with that, Turke is also looking to give back to her community and the world of athletics.
“Turke is terrific to work with and a wonderful young lady,” Pepin said. “I have no doubts that she will be very successful following her graduation from Nebraska.”
For now, Turke is focused on the present, but she is also looking back at how far she’s come. She knows that leaving home and coming to the United States was tough, but she has no regrets about the decision, as she has learned a lot.
“I’ve definitely grown as an individual, both physically and mentally,” Turke said. “I’ve gotten better in track and field, but I also learned how to be independent in a country far from my own. Here at Nebraska, I always feel welcomed and supported. Without all the amazing people I have, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”