Nebraska women's cross-country team takes off at the start line.
The Nebraska women's cross-country team begins their race at the Greeno/Dirksen Invite on September 17. Photo courtesy of Prep Running Nerd.

The Nebraska women’s cross-country team has finished in the top-two in each of their first three meets. They look to carry this momentum as they get ready for the postseason. 

Going into the season, head coach Matt Wackerly had high expectations for the team. So far, those expectations have been met and then some. 

“They all did their homework over the summer,” Wackerly said. “They all have bought into what we’re doing, and they are all excited about it.” 

The Huskers won the women’s gold division at the Joe Piane Invite at Notre Dame on September 30, edging Cal Poly by one point. The story of the meet was Alea Hardie setting the new school record in the 5K, running a time of 16:44.2. Hardie, a freshman out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has finished first in all three races she has ran this year. 

“She’s been great,” Wackerly said. “It’s hard for a freshman to come here and compete at the level they did in high school, but Alea has exceeded that level.” 

Hardie was not the only runner to have massive success in South Bend. Many runners, like senior Taya Skelton, set new personal bests. 

“I’ve been wanting that PR for a while,” Skelton said. “I have had a lot of setbacks throughout my career, so it was really nice to get a PR that I have been chasing after for a while.” 

Nebraska’s win at Notre Dame was their first team win of the season after finishing in second place at each of their first two meets. These results show how well the team atmosphere is.  

“Our team culture is phenomenal,” Skelton said. “Everyone is best friends and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for any girl on the team.” 

The Huskers travel to Oklahoma State this Saturday, October 15, to take part in the Weis-Crockett Invitational. They will be running their first 6K of the season against some of the top teams in the country. 

“It will be good for us to get more of a test, with the team really being able to see what it is like running in a huge pack of people that are all really good,” Wackerly said. 

The meets will only get more competitive with the Big Ten Championships taking place on October 28, but the Huskers are ready for the challenge.  

“We’ve been doing historically great in our season so far,” Skelton said. “Our goal is to keep that momentum going and have our best races come later in the season.” 

Anthony Rubek is a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a sports media and journalism double major at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is from La Vista, NE and one day hopes to cover sports as a writer. In his free time, he enjoys running and watching sports.