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NEB XC: Kusche Crowned Big Ten Champion

George Kusche became the Husker’s first Big Ten cross country champion on Saturday.
George Kusche became the Husker’s first Big Ten cross country champion on Saturday.(Nebraska Athletics)
Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - George Kusche became the Husker’s first Big Ten cross country champion on Saturday, racing a time of 24:01.2 in the 8K to reach the historic feat at the 2020 Big Ten Championships in Shelbyville, Ind. Overall, the Nebraska cross country team continued to improve at the conference championship event, earning a fifth-place finish on the men’s side and ninth-place finish on the women’s side.

“It was really satisfying to see both teams continue to improve in the standings,” Head Coach David Harris said. “George (Kusche) made a big move with 2K to go and held on to become our first Big Ten cross country champion. Erika (Freyhof) has gained so much confidence in the last year. She trains to be the best. Her habits and discipline are paying off in high finishes in the Big Ten.”

Kusche is Nebraska’s first conference champion since 1992 and just the seventh conference champion in program history. He also picked up his third first-team All-Big Ten honor.

“The last 100 meters was quite exhilarating,” Kusche said. “I got it done, won the race, and very, very happy about that.”

The day started with the women’s 6K race, with the Huskers finishing nineth with 228 points. Erika Freyhof highlighted the Huskers’ performance, finishing in sixth place with a personal-best time of 20:41.2 and earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. Grace Pagone was the next Husker to finish in a time of 21:55.6 for 53rd place.

Freyhof’s finish is the best individual result at the Big Ten Championships by a Nebraska female runner and marks the best individual finish on the women’s side since Lara Crofford finished sixth at the 2008 Big 12 Championships.

“It was fun to be able to race again,” Freyhof said. “The race didn’t go out super fast, but it was fun to be able to feel strong and finally be able to finish strong.”

In the men’s 8K, Nebraska recorded 117 points to earn the fifth-place finish. Dais Malebana followed Kusche to finish 19th with a time of 24:33.8 in his first appearance at the Big Ten Championships.

Both the men and the women improved on their team finishes from last season. The women’s finish continues a four-year trend of moving up in the standings at the conference championships, improving on last year’s 10th-place result. The men improved on a sixth-place finish in 2019 to record the sixth straight year the team has improved in the standings.

Women’s Results

6. Erika Freyhof 20:41.2

53. Grace Pagone 21:55.6

57. Brynna McQuillen 22:02.2

73. Taya Skelton 22:26.2

77. Emma Bresser 22:30.9

89. Maret Elgren 23:26.7

92. Allie Binder 23:35.4

94. Audrey Freyhof 23:46.0

96. Abby Volkmer 23:54.5

99. Katelyn Mullinax 24:04.3

102. Marissa Kraus 25:14.6

103. Abby Heffner 25:18.5

Men’s Results

1. George Kusche - 24:01.2

19. Dais Malebana - 24:33.8

22. Ryan Martins - 24:38.6

35. Bailey Timmons - 24:57.3

46. Mark Freyhof - 25:24.7

67. Adam Christopher - 26:01.8

81. Sadio Fenner - 26:27.8

83. Jerry Jorgenson - 26:42.8

86. Erik Snell - 28:08.0

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