VAULTER VAULTER

Former Husker’s love for pole vaulting turns into one for coaching at Florida

Florida assistant Nic Petersen loves that look when something suddenly clicks with his jumpers.

“That moment when the hard work comes together,” he said.

Coaching moments that get in your blood, he said, and you can’t get rid of them. Nor does he want to — he says he has the best assistant job in the country.

The former Omahan has been part of two national track championships with the Gators, who won their third outdoor men’s title earlier this month.

Florida bounced back from a seventh-place showing indoors and a sixth-place finish at the SEC outdoor championships.

“This one was pretty special because we had kind of a rough indoor season,” Petersen said. “Nobody was talking about us or thinking we had a chance to win.”

His work this summer isn’t done. He’ll be taking four athletes to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon in July.

Former Gator Marquis Dendy is considered the favorite in the long jump in Rio. Florida’s KeAndre Bates and Darrielle McQueen will be competing in the long jump and triple jump at the Trials. Ciarra Brewer will be chasing an Olympic berth in the triple jump.

Yanis Davis, another of his athletes, will compete in the world junior championships in Poland in July.

Petersen never made it that far after pole vaulting for Nebraska. He had a late start in the sport at Omaha Creighton Prep after playing football, basketball and baseball his first two years.

Lynn Groff, the track coach, was also the defensive coordinator in football.

“He said, ‘You are kind of crazy, why don’t you go try the pole vault?’” Petersen said. “I went 11-6 the first day, and ever since I was a pole vaulter.”

He never won a state title for Prep, but he was an All-Big 12 selection and part of four Big 12 championships at Nebraska, where his highest leap was 17-1.

Petersen worked at track and field camps in college and became a volunteer assistant under coach Gary Pepin. He was hooked — he’s now in his 10th season as an assistant.

“I just kind of fell in love with it,” he said. “You get to help kids accomplish their dreams.”

He has coached the men’s and women’s long, triple and high jumps and the pole vault for Florida the past four years.

His athletes at the school have won nine individual national titles and 10 individual SEC crowns. Jumpers who have worked with him have collected 50 All-America awards.

Petersen coached at TCU for three years before going to Florida, where he met his wife, Kerri Hanks, a soccer assistant who was a four-time All-American and two-time Hermann Trophy winner for Notre Dame.

Petersen said he hopes sons Greyson and Cole have inherited her athletic ability. But right now, with two kids under 2, they’re just trying to survive.

He and his wife joke that they are on team no sleep.

“We don’t sleep at our house,” he said.

He brings them back to Omaha once or twice a year. His father, Dan, and brother Ryan own a Godfather’s Pizza in Elkhorn.

Petersen bought his dad, who coached him when he was a youngster, a national championship ring after Florida won a title in 2013. He’s a big Gator fan.

“He loves it,” he said.

 

 

 

From: http://www.omaha.com/sports/former-husker-s-love-for-pole-vaulting-turns-into-one/article_18852d99-aaf9-5090-ad48-365e52230fd3.html

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