Graduate school brought high jump champion to Nebraska track team
There are several interesting parts to the story of how we got to where we are now, where Candice Dominguez is on the Nebraska track team and winning her event, the high jump, so we’ll start at the beginning, back in Ventura, California.
It was there where Dominguez got her start in the sport, a start that she couldn’t have imagined would lead to her earning a scholarship for track and now has her at a second school, this one in the Big Ten Conference, where she’ll earn a second degree at the age of 22.
“My whole life I was a cheerleader,” Dominguez said. “My freshman year of high school, I did high school cheerleading. Cheerleading was only for one semester, and I heard that everybody made the track team and I didn’t want to do high school PE, so I went out for track. High jump was a very similar story. I didn’t want to run 200s that day, so I went to the high jump.”
There were 250 people on the track team at Ventura High School. Dominguez got the school record.
It was track that led her to Sacramento State, an NCAA Division I program in the Big Sky Conference. Twice she was the conference champion.
At the same time she was excelling in track, she earned a degree in about three years.
Her next move was aimed at her goal of being a sports agent. She was chosen for a two-year program at UNL, where students earn a master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletics administration.
Dominguez had one more year of college track eligibility, but wasn’t planning on using it. She was injured during her third year when her face hit the track surface. There were meets where she never cleared one bar.
But when Dominguez visited UNL, an adviser encouraged her to talk to the coaches.
Dominguez knew she’d be at UNL for two years so she took a redshirt year last season and trained.
This year, she’s really a Husker. In her first meet, she finished third. Then in her second meet, last week in Michigan, she won with a jump of 5 feet, 8¾ inches. It was special for her to win as a Husker.
“It’s a lot different,” Dominguez said. “I have teammates congratulating me, which happened (at Sacramento State) as well, but here it’s people that I’ve never talked to. They’re like, ‘Good job this weekend,’ and I’m like, ‘I didn’t even know you knew who I was.’ The social media presence makes that a lot easier, too. People follow Husker track on Twitter and Instagram and our media teams and (sports information director) make it easier for more people to know. We didn’t have that kind of support in Sacramento. Our coaches ran our social media pages, so if it was posted, it was posted. So it was more people who followed track knew about it there, and everybody knows about it here.”
Dominguez is ranked fifth in the Big Ten. She’ll compete Saturday when Nebraska hosts the Mark Colligan Memorial meet.
As part of her graduate program she’s getting an inside look at how a large athletic department operates. She’s a graduate assistant in the equipment department, working about 20 hours per week in the equipment room at the Devaney Sports Center with assistant equipment manager Sam Bowlsbey. There, the challenges include getting gear for 150 athletes and coaches on the track team.
“Cross country gets six pairs of shoes a year, track gets three pairs of shoes a year,” Dominguez said. “Spikes for newcomers, shirts, sports bras. You get a winter coat when it’s your first year here, travel bag, spandex, shorts, pants. It’s a lot. I don’t know how Sam does it. She’s responsible for all the ordering. It’s insane, especially with such a large team.”