On Saturday, Nov. 23, sophomore cross country runner George Kusche concluded his season at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana. After qualifying for the championships with his seventh-place finish at regionals, Kusche finished the 10,000-meter race in 165th out of nearly 250 runners with a time of 32:31.1.
This was Kusche’s second appearance at the NCAA Championships, and he’s the first Husker to go the championships in back-to-back seasons since James Bowler in 2001 and 2002.
On the season, Kusche won the Greeno/Dirksen Invitational back in September, placed fifth in the Under Armour Pre-Nationals in October and was runner-up in the Big Ten Conference Championship earlier this month. His best time on the season in the 8,000-meter race was 23:31.6 and 31:01.9 in the 10,000-meter.
With the 2019 cross country season officially concluded, Kusche will join the track and field team to prepare for the 2020 season. The team will have an intrasquad meet on Dec. 14 at home.
Swim and Dive
The Nebraska swimming and diving team scored 384 points to finish fourth out of 13 opponents at the Mizzou Invite. Missouri placed first with a score of 942.5, Arkansas finished second with 659 and San Diego State came in third with 585.
The Huskers set the tone going into the start of finals with junior Madison Coughlen winning the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:57.39, the seventh-best time in the country in that event. In the same event, sophomore Maggie Berning finished in fifth place with a time of 2:00.73, which gave Nebraska two top-five finishes in the event.
Sophomore Audrey Coffey placed third with a time of 16:35.62 in the one-mile swim to lead the Huskers in that event, while fellow sophomore Katelyn Kilpatrick placed sixth with a time of 16:42.76. Junior Rachel Powers was able to finish in the top 10 with an eighth-place finish of 16:47.67.
In the 200-yard breaststroke, senior Tori Beeler finished in 12th place with a time of 2:16.61, placing fourth in the B-Final. In the same distance but different stroke, the 200-yard backstroke, junior Jessica Pentlarge finished in 14th place with a time of 2:01.95.
Senior Autumn Haebig touched 12th with a time of 50.40 in the 100-yard freestyle, with fellow Husker senior Carla Gonzalez-Garcia finishing 19th with a time of 51.06.
In the diving finals, sophomore Hallie Roman competed to a 10th place finish with a final score of 198.55.
Finishing off the invite was the 400-yard freestyle relay, where the Nebraska A team, made of swimmers Pentlarge, Haebig, Gonzalez-Garcia and Beeler, finished in fifth place with a time of 3:23.02.
Nebraska swimming and diving will be back in the pool for the U.S. Open in Atlanta on Dec. 4-7.
The women’s gymnastics team made its team debut to Husker fans at Mabel Lee Hall in its intrasquad meet Friday night. It was a chance for the coaches to see who has improved since last year, what newcomers impressed and areas to improve on in the next couple of weeks before the Huskers’ first official meet against BYU on Jan. 6.
The Huskers will return 10 letterwinners after finishing No. 14 last year. Nebraska returns a pair of talented seniors, All-American and WCGA Academic All-American Taylor Houchin and First-Team All-Big Ten and WCGA Academic All-American Sierra Hassel.
“I think we did really well,” Hassel said. “This is a starting place for us, and then we will build off of this for the rest of the year. I think it was a great starting point to get the nerves out, to come together as a team and see all our hard work paying off.”
“Today was good because it kind of gave me an idea of where I'm at under pressure,” Houchin said. “Every year I got better with it, but it's nice to see where I'm at now, with a little bit of extra adrenaline from all the fans here. I will probably use that as a base in practice to get better.”
The Huskers will look to improve on this foundation made by head coach Heather Brink after earning a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional.
"I thought tonight was a really great starting point for us," Brink said. “We had some slip-ups and a few falls, but that's what this meet is for — to improve. I think this group has a lot of potential in attaining our goals and working toward achieving them."
The Huskers started off the season well and were able to shake some rust off. The team has the potential to improve, but they will need seniors like Hassel and Houchin to lean on.