The middle of September saw freshmen athletes face tough challenges and, although they weren’t victorious, each took big steps in different ways. 

This week’s winner not only faced a grand challenge, but her first competition on the collegiate level. 

The DN’s Freshman Athlete of the Week is freestyle swimmer Ilaria Murzilli. 

The Nebraska swimming and diving team began its season on Friday, Sept. 17 with five Huskers competing at the CSCAA Open Water Nationals in Lawrence, Kansas. The invitational involved only a single race for the women early in the morning, but it was a race that surely tested one’s stamina: the 5,000-meter freestyle.

Opening up her collegiate career, Murzilli took the over 3-mile swim with ferocity. Although the Rome native didn’t win the race, her second place finish showed her grit. Murzilli led the charge for Nebraska finishing the race in 1:04.07.6 to help the Huskers win the invite. 

Also joining Murzilli in the top five was senior Shannon Stott finishing fourth with a time of 1:04.31.7. 

Murzilli is the first swimmer in the history of the Husker program hailing from Italy and has also been a part of the Italian National Team since 2017. 

Nebraska still has two weeks until the whole team begins competing in the regular season, but Murzilli is already getting the team fired up for the campaign. 

First honorable mention: Cross country runner Hannah Godwin

Nebraska cross country held its lone home meet of the season at the Greeno/Dirksen Invitational on Sept. 18.

As a team, the women finished second and the men finished fourth. 

Godwin finished 10th in the 5k race out of 206 runners, and was the third Husker to finish. This was Godwin’s second straight top-10 finish with her first coming when Nebraska opened up the season in South Dakota at the Augustana Twilight. There, the Nebraska native had a sixth-place finish in the 5k out of 329 runners with a time of 18:37.37.

However, what makes Godwin’s 10th-place finish more stellar than her sixth-place finish was her time. Prior to the Greeno/Dirksen, Godwin’s best time in the 5k was her high school personal record of 18:33. Godwin clobbered that record on Saturday, finishing the race with her new personal best time of 17:42.8. 

Second honorable mention: Volleyball outside hitter Ally Batenhorst

The Nebraska volleyball team competed in two top-20 matches across the week. As a team, the Huskers lost both matches. 

Throughout the two matches, Batenhorst finished the week with 15 kills, 10 digs and six blocks. In the team’s 3-1 loss to Stanford, Batenhorst dropped 10 kills, eight digs and three blocks. In the team’s 3-0 fall to Louisville, the Texas native finished the match with five kills, three blocks and two digs against Louisville. 

This was Batenhorst’s second straight week where she finished with 15 kills. However, Batenhorst was able to rack the same amount this week in one less set as compared to last week’s output. 

On the season, Batenhorst has 39 kills, 22 digs and eight total blocks.