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Husker Women Look to Capture 17th Team Title
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
          Release: 09/14/2011
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Huskers to Host 22nd Annual Home Meet

Huskers to Host 22nd Annual Home Meet...
   This weekend at Pioneers Park in southwest Lincoln, the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Wesleyan cross country teams will host the 22nd Annual Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational. Nearly 60 men's and women's teams and 700 runners will battle for the meet crowns.
   On the women's side, last year Crofford led a 1-2 Husker finish with redshirt freshman Martina Barinova placing second. The Huskers placed four more in the top 15. The team win was the Huskers sixth straight, their second longest streak at the meet, as they won nine straight from 1990-98. A veteran Nebraska team, led by co-captains Ashley Miller and Jessican Furlan look to carry the women to the seventh straight Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational team title.  
   For the men, David Adams was the 2010 Husker men's top finisher with a time of 24:54.1 finishing second behind Jim Walmsley of U.S. Air Force Academy.
   In the team races, the Husker women shoot for to win their seventh straight university division title, while co-host Nebraska Wesleyan won the college division and look to defend their title this year.
   On the men's side, after setting the longest winning streak in school history in 2009 with four team wins, the Husker men fell one point short of the team title in 2010.
   The event began in 1990 when Nebraska Wesleyan combined its meet, the Woody Greeno Invitational, with Nebraska's meet, the Nebraska Invitational, to form what is now the largest cross country event in the state.  Although both university and college competitors run in the same race, divisional champions are determined by each team's finish within its own division. In tribute to head coach Jay Dirksen in his last season with the Huskers the number one runner's spot will be dedicated to him as he will be retiring following this year's cross country season. Dirksen will transition the program to Harris this fall.
   Harris already has ties to Nebraska, as he coached NU's middle distance runners and the men's sprinters and hurdlers for seven years before becoming the head cross country and track and field coach at Emporia State in 1992. As the Hornets' head coach for 19 years, Harris was named MIAA Coach of the Year 11 times and brought Emporia State to the top of the Division II ranks, as the men's squad finished fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last season. Emporia State will be in competition this weekend at the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational, competing in the college division.
Directions to Pioneer's Park...
   From the Lincoln Airport: Start out going southeast on Terminal towards West Adams Street by turning right. Terminal becomes West Adams Street and West Adams Street becomes a ramp. Merge onto I-80 West. Take the US-77 South exit (number 397) and merge onto Salt Valley Roadway. Turn right onto Capitol Parkway, which eventually becomes South Coddington Avenue. Turn left onto West Calvert Street
   From I-80 west and east: Get off on Exit-397 and go south on Homestead Expressway. Take a right on Capitol Parkway W. off Homestead Expressway. Capitol Parkway will turn into S. Coddington Ave. After cross Van Dorn Street, you will enter Pioneer's Park on the east side.
   From Downtown Lincoln: Get on Capitol Parkway W. off 9th Street ("L" Street turns into Capitol Parkway after crossing 9th). Continue on Capitol Parkway W., which turns into S. Coddington Ave. After crossing W. Van Dorn Street, you will enter Pioneer's Park on the east side.
Husker Women Capture Third Straight Title...
    The Nebraska cross country team opened the 2011 season with the Husker women capturing their third straight Creighton/Nebraska-Omaha team title. Ashley Miller raced to an individual crown on the women's side, while Jarren Heng took second on the men's side to help the Huskers place second as a team.
   The win in Omaha marked the sixth title for the Husker women in the past seven years. The Husker women were dominant over Creighton and Nebraska-Omaha, as Miller led a 1-2-4-5-6 finish for the Huskers with a time of 19:04.21 in the 5K race.  Miller was followed by Erica Hamik, Katie White, Sarah Plambeck and Isabel Andrade.
   "The women ran solid as a group," Head Coach Jay Dirksen said. "All the sophomores ran really well, and I was especially impressed with Sarah Larson as she ran really well for her first ever cross country meet."
   For the men, the Huskers placed six runners in the top 15. Heng paced the pack with an 8K time of 27:31.24.  A sophomore from Norfolk, Neb., Heng was joined in the top 15 by Tommy Brinn (6th), Peter Falcon (11th), Connor Gibson (12th), Dani Dapo (14th) and Alney Tobias (15th).
   "We held three of our top five guys out today," Dirksen said. "Jarren Heng ran real comfortably today, the men have a lot of room for improvement but we will be able to tell where we are as a team at the home meet when everybody is out on the course."
Crofford Made History at 2010 Woody Greeno...
   The Nebraska cross country teams put on an impressive show for the home crowd at Pioneers Park on Saturday morning for the 21st Annual Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational. The Husker women won the university division team crown, while senior Lara Crofford won her second individual title.                                                                                              
   The women's team win marked the sixth straight year that the Huskers have taken the team title and the 16th time overall in the meet's 21-year history.
   Crofford became the first Husker to win back to back individual crowns since Fran ten Bensel (1990-92). A native of Newville, Pa., Crofford ran a time of 21:01.31, which marked her second individual title in 2010.
   "Lara is running better than she has ever run, and the whole team did exceptionally well today," Head Coach Jay Dirksen said.
   David Adams was the men's top finisher with a time of 24:54.1 finishing second behind Jim Walmsley of U.S. Air Force Academy. The York, Neb., native's time of 24:29.4 is the sixth-best time ever run on the 8K course and the second-best time ever by a Husker, trailing Cleophas Boor's time of 24:05.3 in 1996, which ranks third overall.
   Overall for the women, Crofford led a 1-2 Husker finish with redshirt freshman Martina Barinova placing second. The Huskers placed four more in the top 15, with junior Erica Hamik finishing fifth, Ashley Miller coming in seventh, Jessica Furlan placing eighth and Jen Webers finished ninth. Freshman Sarah Plambeck just missed the top 15 placing 18th and running a time of 22:59.7. The team win was the Huskers sixth straight, their second longest streak at the meet, as they won nine straight from 1990-98.
   After setting the longest winning streak in school history in 2009 with four team wins, the Husker men fell one point short of the team title. Adams led the Huskers placing second, followed by Jesse Adams placing eighth, Trevor Vidlak finished 10th, Todd Gulizia finished 12th and Anthony Oberle placed 17th. The Husker men earned the runner-up title to Wyoming who finished with 33 points while Nebraska earned 34 points respectively.
Dirksen to Retire Following Cross Country Season...
   After 28 seasons as Nebraska's head cross country coach and assistant coach in charge of the distance squad for the NU track and field team, Jay Dirksen has announced that he will retire following the 2011 cross country season and hand the reins over to David Harris. Dirksen will leave Nebraska with an impressive resume that includes 14 cross country All-Americans, 39 track and field All-Americans, 45 track and field individual conference champions and five Big 12 cross country team titles.
   "It is hard to believe that 28 years have gone by so fast since I first came to Nebraska," Dirksen said. "The University of Nebraska is committed to making it possible for our student-athletes to be well-rounded individuals. The balance between academics and athletics is excellent at Nebraska."
   Entering the 2011 season, Dirksen's cross country teams have produced 36 top-five finishes and 21 top-three finishes in his 56 appearances at the Big Eight and Big 12 Championships. The NU women have won five conference team championships (1985, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993), the only women's cross country titles in school history. The men have also traditionally been one of the top teams in the conference. Under Dirksen, three Huskers have won individual conference titles, two for the men, Jonah Kiptarus (1996) and David Iteffa (1991), and one for the women, Fran ten Bensel (1991). Through all the success, Dirksen said some of the best memories have come away from the course.
   "The relationships with the athletes are the best," Dirksen said. "I really enjoy watching a young 17- or 18-year-old athlete come in and mature not only as a runner, but also as a person. It's fun to know that you've had some influence on his or her life. I think a lot of times athletes don't realize what they've learned in athletics until they get out in the real world for a while. It's great to be a part of that whole process."
   In cross country, Dirksen's 14 All-Americans have earned a total of 20 All-America awards. Only one Husker male, and no female runners, had earned All-America recognition before Dirksen's arrival in 1983. Among the honored athletes are three-time All-American ten Bensel (1990-91-92) and two-time All-Americans Cleophas Boor (1996-97), Joe Kirby (1988-89), Sammie Resh (1987-88) and Jacques van Rensburg (1988-89). In addition to the second- and third-place finishes by Kiptarus and Boor at the 1996 national meet, the other highest men's individual places have been earned by Jean Verster, who took fifth in 1985, and Boor, who placed sixth in 1997. All-America status was also earned by Kayte Tranel (2005), Jeroen Broekzitter (1997), Theresa Stelling (1993), Kurt Russell (1984) and Wally Duffy (1983).
   "I have been very blessed to have been at Nebraska all these years," Dirksen said. "We have had many great athletes and many great teams. The reason I love coaching so much is because of these athletes. We have such a great group of kids this year, and I am so excited to be able to coach them. I have been doing this for years but these kids only get four years and we want to make it the best experience for them."
   Nebraska cross country athletes have been known for being great students ever since Dirksen's arrival on campus. Each year the Herman Award is given to the Nebraska men's and women's teams with the highest grade-point averages. The 2009-10 awards were swept by the cross country teams for the second straight year. In the 17-year history of the award, the women have won it 10 times, while the men have claimed eight awards. Both teams were also honored in 2010 as an All-Academic Cross Country Team for the third straight year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The women posted a GPA of 3.449, while the men collectively posted a GPA of 3.313. Since the award was first given out by the Women's Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches Association in 1994 (combined with the U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association in 2006 to form the USTFCCCA), the women have earned the honor 16 times, posting the top GPA in the country in 1994, 1995 and 2000. The men have been honored seven times.
   Dirksen will transition the program to Harris this fall. Dirksen plans to retire with his wife, Diane, to their home in Hot Springs Village, Ark. Through an exception from the NCAA, Pepin was able to hire Harris prior to Dirksen's retirement.
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