By Jared Meyer, Contributor
The UNO women’s cross country team wrapped up their season in style, finishing with a victory at the Yellow Jacket Classic Oct. 22 and adding another win at the Sioux Falls Invite last Saturday. Junior Amanda Vorthmann was the overall winner at both events, finishing the Yellow Jacket Classic with a time of 18:36 and the Sioux Falls Invite in 18:16.
Five Mavs finished the Sioux Falls Invite in the top 20. Vorthmann led the squad while freshman standout Kristin Rodgers was seventh, junior Nicole Behm came in 12th, freshman Mikayla Peck was 13th and sophomore Kayla Fenske finished 20th.
Despite the success, UNO ended the meet in a tie with Black Hills State. According to NCAA rules, the Mavs and Yellow Jackets were compared as if the meet had been a dual.
After adding up the times of each team’s top five finishers, UNO’s total edged Black Hills St. by 2.9 seconds. The Mavs had three out of the five runners with better finishes.
Vorthmann’s first place finish was nothing new to the team. Out of the seven meets UNO competed in, Vorthmann was the Mavs’ top runner six times.
“She worked really, really hard over the summer, and she did awesome for us,” said UNO assistant coach Marc Bierbaum.
The only time Vorthmann wasn’t on top was the UNO/Creighton Classic on Sept. 3. Her time of 20:19 was second to Rodgers.
A junior college transfer from Iowa Central, Vorthmann was in her first year with the Mavs. A medical redshirt kept her out of competition in 2010.
Vorthmann came to UNO with an already accomplished resume. In her time at Iowa Central, Vorthmann was named Female Athlete of the Year, All-American and team captain.
“It was the best chemistry of a team that I have ever coached,” said Bierbaum. “We got along with each other real well, and everyone cared for each other.”
“These last two weekends of winning have been great, and it was a special way to end the season.”
While Vorthmann certainly provided leadership from the front, the contributions of the freshman class were another factor behind a special season. Five new members joined the team in 2011.
Led by Rodgers, the newcomers were some of UNO’s most consistent performers. Rodgers had UNO’s best time in the UNO/Creighton classic on Sept. 3, the team’s second best time at the Woody Greeno Invite on Sept. 17 and finished second overall at the Sioux Falls Invite.
Fellow freshman Lydia Martin was the Mavs’ third best finisher at the UNO/Creighton meet and the Woody Greeno Invite. Omaha native and team newcomer Mikayla Peck put up UNO’s third best time at the Rocky Mountain Shootout on Oct. 1.
“They (the freshmen) did really well this year, and they will be a force to reckon with next year,” said Bierbaum.
With only senior Katie Becker leaving next year, the Mavs will return 10 runners to take on a Summit League schedule in 2012.
“I’m excited and I think we will be a lot better,” Bierbaum said. “I think we have a shot to finish in the top three of the conference.”