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Nebraska tennis coach Kerry McDermott

Over the next week, The Daily Nebraskan will do an overview of the "winningest" head coaches in each sport in Nebraska history. This iteration will be an overview of men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, rifle, soccer and track and field

Golf (Men’s): Larry Romjue (1970-2001)

Romjue served as the first coach for the Nebraska women’s golf team from 1975-79, but his biggest impact in Nebraska athletics came during the three decades he spent at the helm of the men’s team. 

In 1999, the Huskers finished second in the Big 12 Conference and placed 14th at the NCAA Championships, the highest mark in school history. 

While at Nebraska, Romjue lettered three times in men’s golf. He passed away in April 2019. 

Golf (Women’s): Robin Krapfl (1987-2019)

During Krapfl’s 32 seasons in Lincoln, the women’s golf team found unprecedented success. Under Krapfl, NU produced two All-Americans, two conference champions and 23 all-conference selections.

Krapfl’s Husker teams won 31 tournaments during her tenure, though only three came after the move to the Big 10. Her teams qualified for the NCAA Regionals 11 times, and the 2000 team reached the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history. Two more appearances followed in 2003 and 2006. In 2000, the Huskers finished 19th out of the 24 teams competing at the NCAA Championships, the best finish in school history. 

Krapfl, a two-time Big Eight Coach of the Year, retired following the conclusion of the 2019 season. 

Rifle: Ashley MacAllister (2014-19)

MacAllister posted a 75-70 record during her five seasons in Lincoln, guiding the Huskers to the NCAA Championships during each of her first four years. 

Nebraska’s best finish at the NCAAs under MacAllister’s watch came during 2014-15, her first season at the helm. That year, the Huskers finished third in smallbore and finished in fourth-place overall. 

An honorable mention goes to Launi Meili, who posted a 71-37-1 record from 2002-07 and led the Huskers to two of their three best finishes at the NCAA Championships in program history. In 2005, the Huskers finished third — tied for the best finish in program history with the 2000 Huskers. The following season, Meili led the Huskers to an even better finish, as they placed second in both air rifle and smallbore en route to a runner-up finish. 

Soccer: John Walker, 327 wins

The only coach in the history of Nebraska soccer, Walker has won 66% of his games, posting a 327-158-44 record during his 25 seasons in Lincoln. Walker has won four regular-season conference championships and six conference tournaments. 

The Huskers have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments, reaching the Sweet 16 eight times and the Elite Eight twice. Walker is a three-time conference coach of the year, a two-time United Soccer Coaches Regional Coach of the Year and the 1996 United Soccer Coaches National Coach of the Year.

Swimming & diving: Cal Bentz (1978-2000)

Bentz, hired by Bob Devaney in 1978, won 15 conference titles for the men’s swimming team before athletic director Bill Byrne eliminated the program at the conclusion of the 2000-01 season. In 1992, Bentz took over as head coach of the women’s team, which won six conference championships during his tenure. 

Overall, Bentz coached 21 Olympians during his time in Lincoln. He retired in January 2001 amid an investigation of the program that ultimately resulted in NCAA violations. 

Tennis (Men’s): Kerry McDermott (1982-2018)

McDermott is the longest-tenured coach in program history, and it’s not remotely close. His 38 seasons in Lincoln are 12 more than Ed Higginbotham, who coached from 1951-72. 

McDermott also claims the most wins in the history of Nebraska men’s tennis, posting a 405-448 record during his nearly four decades in Lincoln. He also took the Huskers to their first two NCAA Tournaments in 2010 and 2011. 

In the summer of 2018, Nebraska elected not to renew McDermott’s contract. He is currently the head coach at Daemen College in Amherst, New York. 

Tennis (Women’s): Scott Jacobson (1992-present)

In 28 seasons at Nebraska, Jacobson has a career 428-261 record. He’s 16th among active Division I coaches in wins and 34th all-time. Jacobson’s Huskers have earned 16 all-conference honors during his tenure, and he’s coached a pair of All-Americans. 

Jacobson, a three-time conference coach of the year, has guided the Huskers to six NCAA Tournaments in the past decade, including four in a row from 2010-13. 

In 2017, the Huskers reached the Big 10 Tournament for the first time since that 2013 season, beating Minnesota to advance to the second round. NU reached the Big 10 Tournament again the following year, losing to Illinois in the opening round. After a down year in 2019, the Huskers were 11-4 last year before the pandemic hit. 

This season, led by Hayley Haakenstad and Claire Reifeis — a pair of fifth-year seniors utilizing an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA after it canceled play last spring — the Huskers are off to a 7-3 start. Two of their losses came to No. 8 Northwestern and the third was to No. 10 Ohio State. 

Track and field: Gary Pepin (1981-present)

The winningest track and field coach in Big 12 Conference history, Pepin completed his 40th season at Nebraska in 2020. He’s the longest-tenured active coach in both Nebraska athletics and Big 10 track and field. Pepin also shares the title of longest-tenured coach in the history of Nebraska athletics with former men’s gymnastics coach Francis Allen, who coached from 1970 to 2009. 

Inducted in 2008, Pepin is one of three Nebraska coaches enshrined in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame — the others are former assistant coach Billy Maxwell (inducted in 2015, retired in 2017) and Pepin’s predecessor Frank Sevigne (inducted in 2004).   

Pepin is a 28-time conference coach of the year, an 11-time Midwest Region Coach of the Year, a two-time District 5 Coach of the Year, and the 1995 United States Track Coaches Association National Indoor Coach of the Year. 

Pepin boasts 73 career team conference titles (43 indoor titles, 30 outdoor titles), three women’s indoor national titles (1982-84) and 23 top-five team finishes at the NCAA Championships. He’s coached 59 individual national champions (42 women, 17 men), 579 individual conference champions (359 women, 220 men) and 618 All-Americans (359 women, 259 men).

sports@dailynebraskan.com