The Huskers track and field team prepares for its second week of intercollegiate competition as it competes in the Nebraska Wesleyan Invitational and hosts the Colligan Memorial Invitational. The NWU Invite is unscored and will be held at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday. The Colligan Invite on Saturday, also held in Lincoln and will be the first meet that is scored.
Last Saturday, the Huskers stormed the Holiday Inn Invitational with 11 individual titles. Freshman sprinter Kadecia Baird made her collegiate debut with a 200-meter time of 23.7 seconds.
Sophomore mid-distance runner Levi Gipson was awarded the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week for his second place performance in the 600-meter run and 4x400 relay, which won the finals by more than three seconds.
“I was very surprised,” Gipson said. “I didn’t really have that in mind, but that’s a nice honor.”
The Nebraska Wesleyan Invite will feature the Prairie Wolves as the opponent. Nebraska has met up with the Prairie Wolves once already this year in the Holiday Inn Invite. Nebraska Wesleyan is currently being led by senior distance runner Brock Taute, who was named Great Plains Athletic Conference athlete of the week.
This meet will be unscored, so there won’t be too many Husker starters competing against the Wolves.
“A lot of our teammates don’t compete in the Wesleyan one,” Gipson said. “The sprint ones (starters) might be only one of the few ones that is competing and they’d just do the 800 one for conditioning.”
Junior mid-distance runner London Hawk finished second, right behind Levi Gipson with a time of 1:18.40 in the 600-meter.
“It depends on the athlete,” Hawk said. “They (the coaches) might be like, ‘oh, let’s try and get more training’ and they’ll have them run both on Friday and on Saturday.”
On Saturday the Huskers will enter their first scored meet of 2014 as they host the annual Colligan Memorial Invite. Last year, the Huskers took the crown as they defeated the Crimson Tide and the Tar Heels. This year, the opposition features the Wichita State Shockers and senior thrower Adam Esau, who won the shot put in the Herm Wilson Invitational.
This meet will be a test of some of the athletes’ endurance, as this will help prepare them to run tired.
“This meet will be more about training through,” Hawk said. “You’re going to be a little sore and a little tired. The point is more about training. We’ll worry about the big meets when the big meets come.”
Despite the initial obstacle of fighting through fatigue, the team still looks to improve on the marks they’ve set in the past month and the marks they’ll set Friday.
Last week, the men’s 4x400 relay team posted a 3:11:12 for the race, which was just three seconds away from the school record. They look to build off that this Saturday, Gipson said.
“We feel like we have a lot of talent, but we’re not going to rely on talent,” Gipson said. “Because we have the talent, we’ve got to keep perfecting that talent so when it comes to conference we can put up a lot of points.”
For Hawk, what gets him and the team through the tough moments is the roars and cheers of the home crowd.
“Fans definitely help a lot,” Hawk said. “It’s crazy when you come down that line and they’re screaming and fighting for you. That could be an extra millisecond, and that’s a big part of track sometimes.”