The Nebraska men’s cross country team took eighth overall while the women finished 15th at the NCAA Midwest Regionals on Friday, Nov. 15, in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Sophomore George Kusche punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row, finishing seventh in the 10,000-meter race.
“He had a tough time over the last 3K but kept himself up to qualify,” head coach David Harris said. “He sets the tone up front in any race he runs. We count on him and he comes through.”
The women’s team went first with the 6,000-meter race. Leading the charge once again for the Huskers was junior Erika Freyhof, who finished 11th with a time of 20:58.1. Following behind her were seniors Elsa Forsberg (21:38.5) in 35th and Judi Jones (22:00.6) in 55th. Sophomore Gabrielle Boucher (22:52.4) finished in 119th and sophomore Grace Pagone (23:28.6) finished 160th to round out the team’s score. This was Freyhof’s second 11th place finish in a row at regionals and she earned All-Region accolades for the second year in a row as well.
"Erika had her best race as a Husker," Harris said. “She put herself up in the race early, competing in the top 10 right until the end. She now waits to see if she possibly gets an at-large spot for the NCAA Championships like her brother [Mark] last year."
The men’s 10,000-meter race followed shortly after the women’s. Kusche led the team with his seventh place finish and a time of 31:01.9. Kusche’s finish also earned him All-Region Honors for the second year in a row. Following Kusche was senior Wyatt McGuire (31:47.5) who finished in 36th, while sophomore Ryan Martins (31:53.5) finished 41st. Senior Jordan De Spong (32:12.3) finished in 58th and junior Mark Freyhof (32:32.7) rounded out the team’s score, finishing in 77th.
For the men’s team, this was the third year in a row they finished eighth at regionals. However, their score improved, as they dropped 38 points from last year’s regional score. Although the women finished 14th last year at regionals, the team’s score was 10 points lower.
"Team-wise we were not happy," Harris said. "We got out in both the men's and women's races early but did not finish well over the last half. But it was exciting to see both teams go up for a top spot."
The team’s season may be over, but Kusche has one week left to go as the NCAA Championship will take place this Saturday, Nov. 23. Last year, Kusche finished 55th at the meet and was accompanied by junior Mark Freyhof, but this year, he’s on his own. However, the sophomore is ready to take on the challenge and so is David Harris.
“Expect George to run for an All-American spot next Saturday,” Harris said. “He is already looking forward to a better race when he lines up at the NCAA Championships."
The meet will be held in Terre Haute, Indiana. The race will begin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 23.