LINCOLN — Nebraska's Anna Weigandt was simply hoping she'd be able to keep up three years ago when the NU track and field coach announced that a heralded Latvian jumper was joining the Huskers.
Weigandt remembers coach Gary Pepin telling the squad that Mara Griva had Olympic potential.
No way, Weigandt figured, would her own triple jump marks ever be comparable to those of Griva.
But then Weigandt started training daily next to one of the nation's best. Getting better and gaining confidence. And eight months ago, Weigandt launched herself 42 feet, 6ľ inches, landing one inch farther than Griva to become the Big Ten's top triple jumper at the outdoor meet.
“Never in a million years did I feel like I was going to win,” said Weigandt, a junior out of Gretna who still holds the Class B state triple jump record.
That accomplishment at the Big Ten championships still seems a bit improbable to Weigandt, even as she talked this week before the Huskers continue preparations to open the 2013 indoor season at the Holiday Inn Invitational. The two-day meet begins Friday at the Devaney Center.
Thus the source of Weigandt's motivation this year: She's looking to prove — to herself and others — that she does indeed deserve to be grouped with the nation's best jumpers. And she's grateful that Griva will be around for one more season to help set the example.
“It went from me being kind of intimidated (of Griva) to me being actually glad she ended up coming here because I don't know if I would have jumped as far without her there pushing me at practice and at meets,” Weigandt said.
Griva's own standard appears to be rising, though.
She's one of five captains for an NU women's team that won the Big Ten indoor team title last year and ranks fourth nationally in the preseason dual meeting rankings (the Husker men also rank fourth in the nation).
A rolled ankle will keep Griva from jumping this weekend. The senior doesn't believe it will linger.
Not like last year, anyway, when back and hamstring injuries limited Griva's ability to train during the week. She was sore on meet days. She wasn't even 100 percent healthy by the fall.
“I was still able to help the team, which was really good,” she said. “But in my eyes, the results weren't good enough.”
Griva won four individual conference titles in 2011 and added a fifth when she finished first in the triple jump at the Big Ten indoor championships last season. Then Weigandt, who was fifth at the league indoor meet, edged Griva three months later.
“It was really big for her, that she could experience that,” Griva said.
The competition between friends only escalates from here — but in a good way, according to Griva.
“We've always helped each other,” she said.
Griva will run in Friday's 60-meter dash before competing in the 200-meter sprint Saturday. Weigandt will take part in Friday's long jump event and Saturday's triple jump.
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