Jumping to greatness: Dragons track and field star shines at Indoor Championships
For the fourth time in his career, senior MSUM track and field athlete Brian Huber is an All-American.
Huber secured the honors with his third place finish in long jump, posting a school record mark of 25 feet, 2 3/4 inches at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9.
The jump nearly didn’t count, as it was originally ruled a foul; however, Huber’s long jump coach Trevor Barry appealed the ruling and asked for a video review.
After taking a second look, it was ruled a valid attempt. Had the call stood, Huber would have placed fifth.
Though the call was overturned, it was not communicated to Huber that he had actually finished in third place rather than fifth until he was on the podium.
“Initially when I jumped, I could tell it was a bigger jump, I could tell it was probably my best of the day,” Huber said. “I didn’t even find out it was a fair jump until I was on the podium in the fifth place spot. My coach signaled to me and was like ‘you got third,’ so I didn’t find out what the jump was after I got off the podium when he told me I broke my own record.”
Third is the highest Huber has ever placed at the NCAA Championships. Although Huber is excited to have made the top three, he nearly claimed the top spot, as the first place jump was 25 feet, 5 1/2 inches.
“It was a pretty cool feeling,” Huber said. “Now when I look back, I’m still happy with it, but knowing I was only 2 inches from first place is a little sad.”
Huber said this year’s circumstances make him feel like this All-American honor outweighs the previous times. The Staples, Minnesota, native is having a bounce-back season after struggling with injuries in his junior campaign.
“Last year was kind of a struggle,” Huber said. “I got injured during the indoor season, struggled at the Indoor Nationals and didn’t even make it to the Outdoor Nationals. Coming back this year, I’ve been feeling a lot better. I have a new (long jump) coach and have a different training schedule and everything.”
Dragons head track and field coach Ryan Milner is impressed at how well Huber has meshed with first-year long jump and triple jump coach Trevor Barry.
“It takes a lot of work to be one of the top three people in the country, he did that with a new coach,” Milner said. “There are a lot of times you might stumble a little when you’re getting used to each other, but they clicked right away. Part of that is because Brian is incredibly mature and coach Barry is a phenomenal coach, so that was a great pairing.”
Milner saw the high level of sophistication in Huber from the moment he joined the team as a redshirt freshman in 2014.
“I think separating him from pretty much the moment he stepped foot on campus is that he was at a much higher level of maturity right away,” Milner said. “I think that has helped him compete at a much higher level because he didn’t have that learning curve where you’re going to college and trying to figure out the ropes.”
As Huber is entering the last stretch of his senior year, MSUM’s first meet of the outdoor season is on March 30 at the Southwest Minnesota State University Mustang Open.
Preparing for the final chapter of his superb career, Huber continues to ensure he is both physically and mentally ready.
“The hard work definitely doesn’t stop,” Huber said. “The main thing I’m trying to focus on is staying healthy this year; that’s been my biggest issue the past few years. Also, mindset has been something I’ve really been working on, just making sure I mentally prepare myself to jump and compete in big meets.”