Chad Wright led the Huskers on the first day of competition at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, as he earned the NCAA title in the men's discus. Wright's accolades were accompanied by two other Huskers, seniors Tyler Hitchler and Morgan Wilken, earning All-America honors on the day.
Wright completed his sophomore season in stunning fashion with his first NCAA Championship. He made Husker history with a winning throw of 206-0 (62.79) on his fifth attempt of the competition, setting a personal best and moving to second all-time in the Husker record books. Wright improved with each throw of the afternoon, as he recorded a mark of 194-6 on his third throw, following that with a throw of 200-0 on his fourth attempt. He exploded on his fifth attempt, releasing a throw of 206-0, the longest throw in Division I this year and the mark that would eventually earn him the national title. Mason Finley of Kansas recorded a mark of 200-2 on his final attempt to challenge Wright, but it would not be enough to overtake Wright's first-place standing as he secured the national title.
"(I didn't know I had won) until they told me the mark," Wright said. "I knew it was going to go far, because it felt nice leaving my hand, but then the crowd started to go crazy. It felt great, I was so happy, but I knew I had one more throw left so I had to stay focused. I believe I paid my respects to Coach Colligan doing this, I think he would be proud."
With the title, Wright becomes Nebraska's 18th men's outdoor national champion. The last Husker to win a national title on the men's side was 2009 indoor long jump champion Nicholas Gordon, and the last Husker to secure an outdoor national title was Dmitrijs Milkevics in the 800 meters in 2005.
"It was mainly because of my warm-ups," Wright said. "My first two warm-ups before the final did not go so well, my last three started to click and then I had two of them over 60 meters. I saw (Texas' Ryan Crowser) made the big throw and took the lead, I threw and then (Oklahoma's) Luke Bryant came back with a big throw and I knew we had a competition. My technique really came together today like it did in San Diego."
Wright was joined by Hitchler, who earned his third-straight All-America honors in the men's discus. He finished sixth on the day with a mark of 193-10 (59.08). Hitchler posted the throw to earn All-America accolades on his second attempt. With his finish, both Wright and Hitchler finished in the top eight in the men's discus for two consecutive years.
Morgan Wilken was the third Husker to notch All-America accolades on the day as she finished eighth in the women's discus with a throw of 178-5 (54.39). Wilken posted the throw on her third attempt to advance to the event finals for the first time in her career and secure her spot as a two-time All-American.
Chris Phipps saw his Husker career come to a close on Wednesday with a 12th-place finish in the men's long jump. A six-time All-American, Phipps recorded a leap of 24-9 3/4 (7.56) on his third attempt, but it would not be enough to advance to the event finals.
Bjorn Barrefors opened the day for the Huskers in the men's decathlon with a personal-best time of 10.93 in the 100 meters. He also posted a season-best throw of 44-10 3/4 on his third attempt in the shot put. He recorded a leap of 23-10 in the long jump and a mark of 6-6 1/4 in the high jump. Barrefors completed his day with a time of 50.37 in the 400 meters, putting him in fourth-place after the first day of competition with 4,053 points.
Barrefors will start the day again for the Huskers tomorrow as day two of the men's decathlon gets underway with the 110 meter hurdles. Mara Griva will compete in the women's long jump, while Ashley Miller will compete in the semifinals of the women's 1,500 meters.