COUNCIL BLUFFS — Darby Thomas took an unofficial visit to Nebraska last summer and went out to eat with head track coach Gary Pepin, who is beginning his 39th season.
They hit it off.
“He’s the sweetest,’’ said Thomas, a senior at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln. “He was just so genuine and just so outgoing, and we just connected right away.’’
The Lynx star announced on Twitter Thursday night that she will continue her career with the Huskers next year. Although not a full ride, she said she was pleased with the scholarship package she received.
Thomas also was considering Iowa State and Minnesota. She took an official visit to Ames in early September, and then two weekends ago she took her official visit to Lincoln. The latter experience caused her to cancel her official visit to Minnesota, which was scheduled for this weekend.
“On the Saturday of my visit, we were walking through the Devaney Center,’’ Thomas said. “I turned to my mom and I’m just like, ‘Mom, I’m going to commit here on Monday.’ I just knew that this is where I wanted to be.’’
Thomas is a two-time state and two-time Drake Relays long jump champion. Her winning distance of 19 feet, 5 inches last spring at state tied the all-class state-meet record and is tied for the third-longest in Iowa prep history.
She said it’s unclear what other events she’ll attempt in college. The Husker coaches have talked to her about the possibility of the heptathlon, and also the hurdles.
Pepin doubles as the jumps coach, and is regarded as one of the nation’s best in that area. He’s also a 27-time conference coach of the year, leading the men’s and women’s programs throughout his tenure.
Thomas said she’s excited to soak in his knowledge. She’s also thrilled to know where she’ll be starting her college career.
“It feels so good to just know,’’ she said. “I can just focus on school and athletics and the rest of my senior year and just enjoying it.’’