Nebraska redshirt freshman and former Dobyns-Bennett sprint standout Bryce Barrett knows the value of hard work. But at the collegiate level, it’s an entirely different workload.
“Running in college is really about working hard, but working smart, too,” Barrett said. “My first year was a big change, but our athletic and academic staff put me on the right track and it’s been a great help.”
Barrett — an all-state performer in both football and track, winning the 400 state championship in 2016 — said one of the main things that drew him to Lincoln was the hometown feel and the close-knit community even though the university is quite large.
“The people out here are so nice and they really do make you feel right at home,” he said. “They love Nebraska athletics out here. At our home indoor meets, it draws thousands of fans and at our last home meet, it was standing room only. It’s awesome getting to run in that kind of environment.”
The Huskers have a strong tradition in sprinting and Barrett was part of the 11th-fastest distance medley relay in school history: a 9:47.07 that was just a half-second outside the top 10. That run in early January came at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, making it that much more special.
“Our facilities are awesome,” Barrett said. “We’re only one of either four or five indoor tracks in the country to have hydraulics. It also helps that we have great facilities so that we never miss a day of training. Weather out here can be brutal at times.”
Barrett said that during one week in January, the city was blanketed by 2 feet of snow and temperatures did not reach above freezing.
The Huskers compete of the Big Ten, a conference steeped in tradition. Sprinting is no joke. Barrett has had a solid start to his first full season, running 48.95 for the 400 indoors and just running a new personal best of 21.58 in the 200 meters on Friday at Texas Tech.
“I’m honored to be a part of Big Ten sports,” he said. “I grew up in SEC country and I saw how good those athletes were, but these guys in the Big Ten are just as good as they are. There are some legitimate guys in the conference.”
Barrett also got to witness a little bit of history at indoors. He watched teammate George Kusche become the first Nebraska runner to break four minutes for the full mile.
“That was a pretty cool moment. George is a great guy and he had been wanting to do that for a while,” Barrett said.
But that wasn’t even the coolest moment Barrett has experienced so far wearing the red and white.
Just a few weeks ago, the Huskers traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the Crimson Tide Invitational. With his dad in the stands, Barrett got the opportunity to run on the 4x400-meter relay team because a teammate was nursing a hamstring injury.
Running as the third leg, Barrett was up against one of the best sprinters in the world: Jereem Richards, who was a part of the 2017 gold-medal 4x400 relay team for Trinidad and Tobago.
Richards has a personal best of 19.97 in the 200.
Barrett got the baton ahead of Richards — who was running on a professional team — and Richards proceeded to pass him in the first 150 meters. Barrett did not give in easily, however, and reeled Richards back in, running shoulder to shoulder with the world-class sprinter into the anchor leg.
“That was a pretty cool experience,” Barrett said. “When we were running beside each other coming down the homestretch, that was a different feeling.”
The Huskers ultimately won the race in 3:08.09. They currently sit 41st in the country but have one of the best times in the West Region.
The Big Ten Championships are coming up May 10-12 in Iowa City, Iowa, and the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds are May 23-25 in Sacramento. Both events have yet to set a television schedule, but the Big Ten Network will most likely carry the conference championships.