The middle of September brought another big week for freshmen across Nebraska athletics. It was also another week of teams and athletes kicking off the season. 

This week’s winner was yet another athlete who began their collegiate career with a phenomenal performance and historical win. 

This week’s winner is women’s golfer Kelli Ann Strand

The women’s golf team opened its season at the Green Wave Classic, finishing second with a school-record score of 835 (-29). 

In her collegiate debut, freshman Kelli Ann Strand had a phenomenal outing, winning the tournament outright. Strand won the 54-hole event with a 202 (-14) score, finishing first by two strokes. The Challis, Idaho native also matched the school’s 54-hole tournament record, tying Husker All-American Kate Smith's school-record. Smith set the record in February of 2018 when she competed at the Westbrook Spring Invitational.

Strand’s biggest day of the tournament came on Monday in the first two rounds. She ended the day with a 132, scoring a 67 and 65 in the two rounds. In the final round on Tuesday, Strand scored a 70 to claim the individual crown. Strand’s second round score of 65 is also a Nebraska freshman record, and she was even named Big Ten Golfer of the Week. 

Prior to Nebraska, Strand had a tremendous high school career. At Challis High School, Strand was a three-time Idaho Class 2A State Champion, a 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier and a two-time Girls Junior America’s Cup Runner-Up.

First honorable mention: women’s cross country runner Alea Hardie

The Nebraska cross country team competed in its only home meet of the season at the Greeno/Dirksen Invitational on Saturday. Overall, the women’s team finished second while the men’s team finished sixth

For the second time this season, freshman Alea Hardie dominated the competition, winning another 5,000-meter run title. Hardie won the race by over 10 seconds and ran a new personal best time of 16:57.9. Hardie’s previous best was 17:00.07, which she ran to win the Augustana Twilight two weeks ago. 

This victory also makes Hardie the first Husker women's runner to win the Greeno/Dirksen Invite since Anna Peer in 2014. The last Husker to break 17:00 in the 5,000-meter run was Erica Freyhof at the Chili Pepper Festival last year. Freyhof ran a 16:52.1 to take third in the race. 

Hardie is also the first freshman for Nebraska to break the 17-minute mark in the 5,000-meter run since Bonnie Smith, who ran a 16:48.4 in the 2015 Augustana Twilight.

Second honorable mention: volleyball middle blocker Bekka Allick

The Nebraska volleyball team concluded its non-conference portion of the regular season with arguably its two toughest matches of the season so far – No. 9 Stanford and No. 13 Kentucky. The Huskers fell to Stanford 3-1, but swept Kentucky.

Freshman middle blocker Bekka Allick finished her fourth week of action with another great showing. Allick totaled 10 kills off 23 attacks, nine blocks, five digs and an assist. 

The Lincoln native’s bigger performance between the two matches was in the team’s sweep of Kentucky. In the win, Allick finished the match with five kills off just eight attacks, four blocks and four digs.

On the season, Allick now has 49 kills off 100 attacks and a hitting percentage of .320 that puts her at second on the team.