The pressure is on coach Gary Pepin and the Nebraska track and field team at the Nebraska Tune-Up at 12:30 p.m. Friday at the Devaney Center.
The men especially will be under the gun. NU is able to take only 32 to the Big Ten championships Feb. 22 and 23 in Geneva, Ohio. Pepin said 36 to 38 men are vying for the four spots in each event.
“Theoretically, you could have a fifth or sixth athlete who could be the fifth or sixth best in the United States and yet that can't go to the meet,” Pepin said. “That's not very fair.”
Pepin called it an archaic rule that he's never run across before in his years of coaching.
One of the events where it will hurt the most is in the long jump, where he said the Huskers have five good competitors.
Pepin isn't looking forward to making the tough decisions next week, but he said the team knows what is at stake.
“Sometimes it's not particularly easy or a lot of fun,” he said. “It's not based on what kind of student they are or if I like their hair style. It's who can get the job done and who can't.”
Some Huskers will be attempting to reach a qualifying mark for the NCAA meet. They're also trying to get in one last good training session.
The Nebraska men are ranked seventh in the latest USTFCCCA poll, moving up seven spots. The Big Ten leads all leagues with six ranked teams.
Arkansas leads the ratings, followed by Florida, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Penn State, Texas Tech, NU, Oregon, Texas and Indiana.
Women's gymnastics looks for fifth win
The eighth-ranked Nebraska women's gymnastics team will be in the hunt for its fifth win when the Huskers visit No. 14 Arizona at 5 p.m. Saturday.
NU scored a season-best 197.175 last weekend against Penn State to raise its record to 4-1. The Wildcats are 9-5 and 0-4 in the Pac-12.
Jessie DeZiel led the way, tying for event titles on the vault (9.925) and floor exercise (9.925) en route to her top all-around score (39.525).
DeZiel was named the Big Ten co-gymnast of the week. Janelle Giblin earned her second consecutive Big Ten event specialist of the week award after she tied her career-best on the bars (9.95) for the second week in a row.
In other events:
Ľ The No. 8 Nebraska rifle team opens postseason action Sunday at its NCAA qualifier match, which starts at 1 p.m. at Murray State. The Huskers' performance will help determine whether NU (15-6, 3-3 GARC) will earn a spot in the NCAA championship field for the first time since 2010. NU finished third at its qualifier last year.
Seniors Janine Dutton, Joyce Kim and Katelyn Woltersdorf are leading NU. Dutton holds NU's top averages in smallbore (575.7), air rifle (588.1) and combined scoring (1,163.9). She is in the midst of her best scoring season at NU, firing an average of 10 points above her career average in smallbore and three points above her air rifle average. Dutton has also earned five individual event titles.
Ľ Mary Weatherholt has won the Big Ten women's tennis athlete of the week award. She's ranked No. 16 in singles (8-0) and No. 18 in doubles with partner Patricia Veresova (6-0).
NU hosts Illinois State at 4 p.m. Friday and Colorado State at 11 a.m. Sunday. The men play East Tennessee State at 10 a.m. Saturday and face Georgia State at 3 p.m. in Johnson City, Tenn.
Ľ Women's bowling will compete in the Morgan State Invitational this weekend in Baltimore.
— Marjie Ducey