The University of Nebraska was well represented at the 2017 Nebraska state track meet on Friday and Saturday as a handful of future Huskers competed at Burke Stadium in Omaha.
Among them, Cody Mroczek of Columbus Scotus and Sam Smith of McCook are joining the track and field team next season. Bennington’s Cody Liske, Central City’s Jordan Paup, Cross County’s Hunter Miller and Broken Bow’s Dylan Reynolds are all football walk-on commits, while Bellevue West’s Jaylin Bradley is a scholarship recruit for the Huskers. Beatrice’s Cameron Jurgens and York’s Masry Mapieu are 2018 scholarship commits for the football team as well.
Conditions were far from ideal as it rained throughout the meet and the athletes had to sit through an extensive delay on Saturday because of technical difficulties. However by the end of the day, every champion had been crowned, and that includes a few of the future Huskers.
One of the busiest athletes on Saturday was Mroczek, who competed in four finals in about three-and-a-half hours. Mroczek qualified for the finals in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes as well as the long jump in Class B. He medaled in all four, finishing first in the 400, second in the long jump and third in both the 300 and 400.
“Overall, I was OK with it,” Mroczek said about his performance. “I wish I had a longer break before that long jump because right after that 400 I went straight to the long jump, but it is what it is. In that 200 I was hoping to get first but it just didn’t happen for me. Overall, I was pretty satisfied.”
The break between the 400 and long jump might have been brief, but the wait for the 100-meter final was exactly the opposite because of the delay, which was particularly difficult for Mroczek after recovering from a hamstring injury earlier in the season.
“I was warmed up for that 100 and they kept delaying it, so I had to stay warm and keep the hamstring warm and everything,” Mroczek said. “But other athletes had to suffer through it too.”
Mroczek’s state championship in the 400-meter dash was his third straight, and on top of that he took home the all-class gold medal as well for running the fastest time in the final.
“My sophomore and junior years I’ve had the fastest time in the state,” Mroczek said. “But when I got down to state I’d never been able to get that all-class gold because I’ve tried other events compared to a bunch of athletes that just kind of focus in the 400 area. I’m very happy to finally get that all-class gold.”
In all four of his events, Mroczek competed against other Nebraska commits. In the 400, he beat out his future roommate in Sam Smith, edging him 49.47 to 49.75. In the long jump, Mroczek (22-7.25) finished second to Reynolds (22-7.5) who will play wide receiver at Nebraska. Mroczek took home the gold as a junior with a jump of 22-6.75.
Liske, a linebacker recruit, won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.6. Mroczek finished third at 10.9 and Reynolds fourth at 11.0. Liske also helped his Bennington team take home the 400-meter relay title.
None of the Huskers took home the title in the 200-meter dash. Smith finished second (22.0), Mroczek third (22.3), Reynolds fourth (22.4) and Liske sixth (22.6).
“They’re great competitors and I was talking to them most of the day,” Mroczek said. “It was really fun to just compete against them.”
Elsewhere in Class B, Jurgens, just a junior, repeated as the all-class gold medalist in the shot put with a throw of 59.25. He also won his second straight all-class gold medal and his third state championship in the discus with a toss of 183-4, beating out Ohio football commit Brett Kitrell – the brother of Nebraska walk-on tight end Bo Kitrell – in the final for the second straight year.
Paup, who will play linebacker at Nebraska, took state in Class C in the shot put with a throw of 54-9. Hunter Miller, an offensive line walk-on commit, finished seventh in the shot put and fifth in the discus in Class C.
As for Mroczek, his role for Nebraska is still up in the air, although if everything goes his way he said he hopes to compete in the decathlon in the outdoor season after redshirting during the indoor season. If that doesn’t work out, he will focus on the 400-meter dash.
If the 2017 state track meet is anything to judge by, Nebraska is bringing in a terrific group of in-state athletes for next season, both of the scholarship and walk-on variety.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.