Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Kusche Punches Ticket to Nationals, Multiple Huskers Earn Honors

By NU Athletic Communications

Peoria, Ill. – The Nebraska cross country team continued its season on Friday at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in Peoria, Illinois. George Kusche punched his ticket to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, while Kusche, Mark Freyhof and Erika Freyhof each earned All-Region honors.

Kusche punched his ticket to National Championships in the men’s 10K race with a fourth place finish, running a time of 31:02.8. His finish was the best finish for Nebraska at a Regional Championship since Jeroen Broekzitter won the event in 1997. Kusche will be the first Husker to represent Nebraska at the NCAA Cross Country Championships since David Adams in 2010.

"I did my job today," said Kusche. "However; all credit goes to Nebraska for supporting me and ultimately giving me the chance to do what I love (run)."

Mark Freyhof also picked up All-Region accolades, placing 10th with a time of 31:08.9. Karson LeComte was the third member of the Big Red to finish 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.

"George (Kusche) will be running in his first NCAA Championship for sure as an individual," Harris said. "George is showing the talent he has, but I will say since the middle of August he has put in some very good training that helped him accomplish this. It is exciting because Mark (Freyhof) may also qualify if the NCAA decides to take more at-large individuals on Selection Saturday."

As a team, the men placed eighth in the 10K with 259 points. The men's squad also finished eighth at the event last season.

The Nebraska women finished 14th in the 6K with 386 points. The finish was a seven-spot improvement from last season. It also marks the best finish for the women’s squad at a NCAA Regional Championship since 2011, when the team finished sixth.

Erika Freyhof set the tone for the Nebraska women, placing 11th with a personal-best time of 20:46.2. She earned the best finish by a Husker female at the NCAA Regional Championships since Lara Crofford placed sixth in 2010. Erika Freyhof’s PR was a 31.7 second improvement from her career-best time of 21:17.9 set at Wisconsin Pre-Nationals.

"Both Freyhof's ran like they were not going to take a back seat to anyone," said Harris. "Mark led the men's team through 8,000 meters. He went for it. Erika ran her best race as a Husker. They both did that."

Judi Jones placed 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 PRed and ran a time of 22:46.1 (157th).

Kusche, Mark Freyhof and Erika Freyhof all earned All-Region honors. Kusche (fourth), Mark Freyhof (10th) and Erika Freyhof (11th) all garnered All-Region honors by finishing in the top-25 of their respective races. This is the first time since 2011 the Huskers have multiple athlete's on the All-Region team and the first time since 2010 Nebraska has All-Region members on both the men's and women's teams in the same year.

"Having three athletes earn All-Region was an honor for us," Harris said. "Three athletes like that is an honor for us and a first! We have everyone from the top seven back on both teams next season. We are still going to have our work cut out for us with some blue blood teams ahead of us. The goals are out there. This team is filled with overachievers. They all really want to run for their teammates and Nebraska."

Kusche will wrap up his season at the NCAA Championships in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, November 17. Mark Freyhof will wait until the NCAA Selection Show on Saturday to see if he will be joining Kusche in the championships. Live stream of Selection Saturday will be available here at 4 p.m. (CT) on Saturday.

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