Huskers Gear Up for NCAA Regional
The Nebraska cross country team will travel to Stillwater, Okla., for the NCAA Midwest Regional this Friday. The meet will begin with the women's 6K at 10:30 a.m., with the men's 10K race expected to follow at 11:30 a.m. Live coverage of the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships will be provided by FloTrack and available with the purchase of a subscription.
George Kusche will be looking to run towards the front of the pack on Friday. Kusche finished fourth at the NCAA Regional last year, becoming the first Husker to qualify for the NCAA Championships and was the first Husker to represent Nebraska at the National Championships since David Adams in 2010. If Kusche qualifies for the championships again this season, he will be the first Husker on the men's side to qualify for back-to-back championships since James Bowler (2001, 2002).
Mark Freyhof is also expected to be running toward the front at the NCAA Regional. He finished 10th in the men's 10K last season and his finish gave him a shot at snagging an at-large bid as an individual. By qualifying, Mark Freyhof made Husker history, marking the first time since 2010 that the Huskers would have more than one individual competing at the NCAA Championships.
Ryan Martins will likely round out the top-three for the Big Red. He has been the third Husker to cross the finish line in three meets this season, including at the Big Ten Championships. Martins owns a best finish of 10th this season at Augustana Twilight.
On the women's side, Erika Freyhof is expected to lead the team once again. She earned All-Region honors last season with her 11th-place finish at the regionals and had the best individual finish by a Husker female at regionals since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Erika Freyhof has paced the squad in all four meets she has ran this season.
Judi Jones and Elsa Forsberg have been the second and third runners for the Big Red this season. Jones has been the second Husker to cross the finish line in three meets this season and owns a season-best finish of fifth at Augustana Twilight. Forsberg has been in the top three all year for Nebraska and was the second Husker to finish at the Big Ten Championships. Forsberg's time at the Big Ten Championships was a PR by more than 30 seconds and her top finish this year was ninth at Augustana Twilight.
Qualifying Criteria for the NCAA Championships
If a team wants to safely qualify for nationals, it must finish in the top two of its respective NCAA Regional Championship. There are nine regionals happening on the same day across the country, so the first two teams from each will advance, which equates to 18 teams total.
After the 18 teams are determined, the NCAA Division I Cross Country Subcommittee selects 13 at-large teams on Saturday following the regional competition. The process for selection involves a review of regular-season competition and finish at the regional championships. Regional finish is the first criterion; for example, a fourth-place team may not be selected for an at-large berth ahead of a third-place team from the same region. A team with a fourth-place finish; however, could "push" both the third and fourth-place finishing team into the championships if the fourth-place team has enough "wins" to be the next at-large team. Wins from the regular-season are only counted if squads beat another university's "A" team, defined by having competed four or more individuals in that regular-season meet who also competed at the regional championships. Only competitions between Sept. 13 through the regional meet weekend are included in the analysis.
After the teams are determined, 38 additional individuals per gender are selected to qualify for the Big Dance. The NCAA committee selects the first four individual finishers not on a qualifying team who finish in the top 25 of their respective region to make up the first 36 individuals. Two additional athletes will be selected from the remainder of the national pool (and must have finished in the regional top 25) as at-large individuals.
Numbers to Know
3 - Number of Huskers to earn All-Region honors in 2018 (George Kusche, Mark Freyhof, Erika Freyhof)
4 - Best finish by a Nebraska male at the NCAA Midwest Regional since joining the Big Ten (2018, George Kusche)
6 - Best team finish by the Husker women at the regional meet since joining the Big Ten (2011)
8 - Best team finish by the Nebraska men at the regional meet since joining the Big Ten (2017, 2018)
11 - Top finish by a Husker female at the NCAA Midwest Regional since joining the Big Ten (2018, Erika Freyhof)
1997 - Last Midwest Regional Champion for Nebraska (Jeroen Broekzitter, 1997)
2001 - Last time the Nebraska men qualified as a team for the NCAA Championships
2008 - Last time the Husker women qualified as a team for the NCAA Championships
2010 - Last time a Big Red woman qualified individually for the NCAA Championships
Huskers Competing at the 2019 NCAA Midwest Regionals
Last Time Out
The Nebraska men finished sixth (172 points) at the Big Ten Championships in the 8K, highlighted by George Kusche finishing as the runner-up with a time of 23:57.8. The sixth-place finish as a team was the best finish by the Husker men at a conference meet since finishing sixth at the 2010 Big XII Championships.
Kusche's effort garnered him first-team All-Big Ten accolades for the second consecutive season and was good for the best individual result ever at the Big Ten Championships by a Nebraska male. Kusche became the first runner-up at a conference meet for the Big Red since Cleophas Boor at the 1997 Big XII Championships.
Kusche led the Huskers and Mark Freyhof was the next Husker to cross the finish line, placing 34th with a time of 24:49.0. Ryan Martins and Wyatt McGuire were the next members of the Big Red to finish and were 39th (24:52.1) and 46th (24:58.2), respectively. Jordan De Spong rounded out the top five for the men and was 53rd with a time of 25:07.3.
The Husker women placed 10th in the 6K at the Big Ten Championships with 283 points, led by Erika Freyhof finishing 23rd with a time of 20:57.9. Erika Freyhof's result was good for the best finish individually by a Husker female at the conference meet since 2014 (Anna Peer, 14th). Overall, the women finished with a one-spot improvement from last season's Big Ten meet and it was the best result for the Huskers at the Big Ten Championships since 2011.
Elsa Forsberg was the second Husker to cross the finish line and took 32nd with a time of 21:11.2, good for a new personal-best of more than 30 seconds. Judi Jones was 74th in a time of 21:58.0. Gabrielle Boucher ran a time of 22:12.5 to finish 82nd, beating her previous best by more than 20 seconds. Emma Bresser also improved with a time of 22:46.8 to finish 101st, her time was also a new personal-best of more than 30-seconds.
Huskers Climb Regional Rankings
The Nebraska cross country teams moved up in the latest USTFCCCA Midwest Region Rankings on Monday, Nov. 4.
Nebraska's men moved up one spot to No. 6 and it is their best ranking of the season. The No. 6 regional ranking is also their best ranking since joining the Big Ten.
The Husker women also made a jump, climbing two spots to No. 11. It is the highest ranking for the women since starting the season at No. 11 in the region.
Last Season at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships
George Kusche punched his ticket to the NCAA Cross Country Championships as an automatic qualifier, while Mark Freyhof and Erika Freyhof each earned All-Region honors.
Kusche punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships in the men's 10K race with a fourth-place finish, running a time of 31:02.8. Mark Freyhof also picked up All-Region accolades, placing 10th with a time of 31:08.9. Karson Le Comte was third for Nebraska and placed 62nd, running a time of 32:18.3. Bailey Timmons and Myles Fleming rounded out the top five for Nebraska with times of 32:39.2 (85th) and 32:54.1 (95th), respectively. As a team, the men's squad finished eighth with 259 points.
The Nebraska women finished 14th in the 6K with 386 points. The finish was a seven-spot improvement from 2017 and it marked the best finish for the women since 2011, when the team finished sixth.
Erika Freyhof set the tone for the women, placing 11th with a time of 20:46.2. She had the best finish by a Husker female at regionals since 2010. Judi Jones was 33rd with a time of 21:23.8. Elsa Forsberg and Rachel Brush were the next Nebraska runners to finish with times of 22:01.4 (92nd) and 22:03.1 (94th), respectively. Grace Pagone ran a time of 22:46.1 (157th).
Kusche, Mark Freyhof and Erika Freyhof all earned All-Region honors by finishing in the top-25 of their respective races. It was the first time since 2011 the Huskers had multiple athlete's on the All-Region team and the first time since 2010 Nebraska had All-Region members on both the men's and women's squads in the same year.
NCAA MIDWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS Friday, Nov. 15, 2019
Host: Oklahoma State University
Course: OSU Cross Country Course
Course Map (6K & 10K Map)
Starting Times: Women - 10:30 a.m. (6K) / Men - 11:30 a.m. (10K)
Participating Teams (Women): Illinois State, Kansas City, Oklahoma State, Eastern Illinois, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Iowa, Western Illinois, DePaul, Northern Iowa, Saint Louis, Missouri State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Northern Illinois, Wichita State, North Dakota State, Illinois, Tulsa, Southeast Missouri, Illinois-Chicago, Bradley, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, Creighton, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern, South Dakota State, Drake, Loyola (Ill.), Kansas
Participating Teams (Men): Southern Illinois, Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa, Creighton, Kansas City, Bradley, North Dakota, Eastern Illinois, Iowa, Saint Louis, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Loyola (Ill.), Western Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa State, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Oral Roberts, Drake, Illinois State, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Southeast Missouri, DePaul, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas State, Wichita State
***Teams are listed by box assignment. The Husker women drew starting box #29 and the Nebraska men will come out of starting box #16.
Timing & Results: The races will be timed and scored by the Finish Lynx Timing System. Live results will be posted at https://flotrack.org. Official results will be available at the conclusion of the meet at https://huskers.com.