Nugent, now a junior at LSU, ran the 110 meter hurdles in 13.75 to qualify in the second heat at the east regional preliminaries in Bloomington Ind.
He now moves on to the semi-finals at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
The semi-finals and finals are set to run on consecutive days, from June 8-11.
Last year, Nugent broke a record that had stood for 23 years when he ran the 110 meter hurdles in 13.49 in the finals.
His time then was good for second place nationally.
Nugent later set a personal record at the USA Outdoor Championships with a 13.35.