With the start of the 2016-17 season, former Loper Dane Tobey enters his fifth year as the throws coach for the Nebraska-Kearney track & field team.
In the summer of 2016, he was elevated to UNK's top assistant working under head coach Brady Bonall.
In four years time, Tobey has coached 12 Loper student-athletes to the NCAA Division II Indoor or Outdoor Championhsips while coaching three to All-American status. UNK throwers also annually place their name on the schools' all-time top 10 list
The 2012-13 season proved to be a successful first year coaching at the collegiate level as Tobey had four throwers qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships (Michael Thalken - shot put; Kyle Glidden and Ryan Hircock - discus; Andrew Howe -discus).
This continues a tradition of throwing success for the Lopers that was heavily influenced by Tobey’s mentor, former UNK head coach Andy Meyer.
In 2014, fifth year senior Jackie Ziemke won the MIAA title in the shot (outdoor), was third at the NCAA indoor meet in the event and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
She also set a new school record in the shot (indoors/51-7), just the third Loper woman to have a toss of over 50 feet. In the spring, her top effort of 49-11.25 placed her second on the UNK all-time outdoor list.
Also in 2014 on the women's side, Danyell Coons (second/weight throw; fifth/hammer), Howe (second/discus) and Abigayle Spilinek (third/javelin) cracked the UNK all-time top five. Howe, a senior, also joined Ziemke at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The 2015 season saw Coons again qualify for the NCAA outdoor meet in the hammer. Her top throw of 192-0 moved up to second all-time in Loper lore.
On the men's side in 2014, Thalken had the second (hammer) and third (outdoor shot) best throws in school history while qualifying for both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets, where he earned a seventh place finish indoors and a fifth place finish outdoors, making him a two-time All-American.
Next, Colby Jurgens capped his career in style as well by finishing second in the weight throw at the 2015 MIAA meet.
Tobey is the most decorated Loper Division II male track & field athlete as he earned eight All-American honors between 2006-11.
All eight of his All-American honors were top four finishes; that includes the 2010 national title in the outdoor shot (62-7.25) and a 2010 national runner-up effort in the indoor shot (61-0).
Currently the school record holder in three events, Tobey won eight RMAC indoor individual titles, was the 2010 NCAA Division II Male Field Athlete-of-the-Year and qualified for the 2010 U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the shot put placing 13th.
Finally, he helped UNK win its’ first-ever RMAC outdoor team title in May 2010 when he scored in four different events.
After graduating, the Waco native was an assistant wrestling coach at Kearney H.S. during the 2011-12 academic year.
Tobey and his wife, Jorden, have three children: Traxton (5), Blakeley (3) and Cooper (1).
Lonny Polacek enters his sixth year as an assistant coach with the Nebraska-Kearney track & field team.
He works with the Loper pole vaulters & men’s multi-event athletes.
The UNK pole vault crew has shown steady progress under Polacek’s guidance.
In 2013, Mark Seeba qualified for both the NCAA indoor and outdoor national meets. On the women’s side, Courtney Fegter set a new school record during the outdoor season.
The 2014 season brought even more success. Seeba again qualified for both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets and was joined at the indoor championships by Jay Kilpatrick and David Krumland.
Next, true freshman Brooke Frederick set new indoor and outdoor schools records while falling just short of making it to nationals.
Last year, five Loper vaulters were NCAA provisional qualifiers with the men and women combining for eight new marks in the UNK top 10.
Entering 2015-16, the majority of the UNK top 10 in both men's and women's pole vault have been coached by Polacek.
Polacek retired from public education in 2012 after a career as an administrator, teacher, and coach. He has also served as a committee member for the Nebraska School Activities Association.
As a track & field coach at Newcastle High School, he coached athletes to 20 state titles and 12 state runner-up finishes. On four occasions, his team came home with the state runner-up trophy.
Polacek went on to be the Activities Director at Holdrege High School before wrapping up his career in education as a teacher and coach at Horizon Middle School in Kearney.
Polacek’s wife, Shawn, also works in education. Their son, Nate, was an All-American pole vaulter for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln track team along with being a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Graduate Assistant Coach
Jodi-Rae Blackwood, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, is in his first season as a Nebraska-Kearney graduate assistant track and field coach.
A native of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, Blackwood was a hurdler at Nebraska-Lincoln from 2011-14. He was a two-time outdoor All-American in the 400 hurdles and a 2014 second-team outdoor All-American as a member of the Huskers 4x1 relay team.
Graduating with a Psychology degree, Blackwood was a four-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll and a 2010 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll qualifier. During his career, he placed in the top eight six times at the Big 10 and Big XII Conference indoor and outdoor championships. Blackwood’s team points came in the 400 hurdles and as a member of the 4x1 and 4x4 relay teams.
He prepped at Munro College where he placed first in the 400 hurdles at the 2010 Jamaican High School Championships.
Christian Archibald is in his second year as a member of the Nebraska-Kearney track and field coaching staff.
The former Loper will lead the horizontal jumps in 2016-17. He was a volunteer assistant in 2015-16, helping head assistant Ross Fellows in the jumps, sprints, and multi-events.
A native of Castle Rock, Colo., Archibald competed for UNK from 2012-15. Specializing in the sprints and horizontal jumps, he took part in three MIAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships and one RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conf.) Indoor Championship.
Archibald ran on two 4x1 relay teams that finished sixth at the MIAA Outdoor meet and was a seventh place finisher in the long jump at the 2015 MIAA Indoor Championships.
In UNK history, he is a member of four different 4x1 relay teams that rank in the top 10 while having the fourth fastest indoor time (6.86) at 60 meters.
Archibald holds a Physical Education degree from UNK.