On a bright and sunny day at the Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio, the Nebraska cross country team kicked off its final month of the season. The team competed in the Big Ten Championship, where the men finished sixth with a score of 172, and the women finished 10th with a score of 283.
"The women’s team moved up today,” head coach David Harris said. “They finished in the top 10 at the meet for the first time in years. Not everyone had a great race. We want so much to put our best effort in a race and we have not done that yet.”
For the men, the sixth-place finish was their best finish at the meet since joining the Big Ten.
“We are getting more and more respect in this league,” Harris said. “To beat some of these long-established cross country programs is not an easy task. I believe in what we are doing and even the guys back home will be ready to make a move up next year.”
The men’s team began with the 8,000-meter race, and up until the final 2,000 meters it was a compacted race between eight runners, with sophomore George Kusche just in front of the pack. Kusche eventually took second in the race with a time of 23:57.8. This was Kusche’s best finish at the meet, along with the best finish by an individual runner for the team since joining the Big Ten. With his second-place finish, Kusche also earned First-Team All-Big Ten for the second year in a row. The next four finishers for the Huskers were junior Mark Freyhof (34th), sophomore Ryan Martins (39th) and seniors Wyatt McGuire (46th) and Jordan De Spong (53th).
"George ran today to win," Harris said. "Finishing second is great but he still wants to win this meet. He led our team and the guys ran solid behind him. We will now move on to getting Kusche ready to qualify for nationals. The team has set its sights on a higher regional finish.”
In the women’s 6,000-meter race, junior Erika Freyhof was the top finisher for the Huskers, taking 23rd with a time of 20:57.9, a season best. Freyhof was 41st after 1,000 meters, but she was able to fight her way up to 19th by the 5,000-meter mark, before finishing 23rd. Following Freyhof were seniors Elsa Forsberg (32nd) and Judi Jones (74th), sophomore Gabrielle Boucher (82nd) and junior Emma Bresser (101st). This was also Forsberg’s best race of her career as she set a personal record by more than 30 seconds.
“Erika and Elsa ran very nice races,” Harris said. “We also needed Bresser to perform today and she came through. She has been training very well. Boucher was also determined to help our team and I do not know where we would be without her. We are improving but still have work to do."
The team’s next meet will be the NCAA Regionals in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Friday, Nov. 15.