There were no team scores recorded this weekend, but for two cross country runners, the individual times would suffice.
True freshman Brianna Johnson finished first among Hoosiers and third overall while redshirt freshman JR Ricker finished first in Friday’s Hoosier Invitational.
With their finishes, Johnson and Ricker earned IU’s seventh and final spots for next Saturday’s NCAA Regional, which were left vacant by IU Coach Ron Helmer, who said he got what he wanted by creating competition within his teams.
“I liked what I saw,” Helmer said. “I liked the idea that they wanted to be the person that gets to go to the next level and mix it up at an NCAA Regional meet. They’re both going to be in situations where we will be better if they can go back in and hit one, and they will. They’ll be just fine.”
Johnson paced Indiana in the women’s 5K with a time of 18:39.46. Redshirt freshman Molly Winters came in fourth, and redshirt freshman Christine Kirby finished seventh. Johnson was cognizant of the chance that awaited her at the finish line.
“I really wanted the opportunity to run at Regionals next weekend,” Johnson said. “Throughout the race, that was my motivation to keep going and run faster.”
Just as Johnson has earned a spot on the Regional squad, so has Ricker, pacing the men with a 25:30.05 time. Redshirt freshman Evan Esselink, junior Nate Morrow, sophomore Joe Holahan and redshirt freshman Nolan Fife placed third through sixth in the men’s 8K.
Ricker achieved his goal of racing with “the big dogs” by increasing his pace with 2K remaining to widen the gap on the field. That move helped secure a win, Ricker said.
He said he’s already looking forward to Saturday’s meet, and he’s not worried about the magnitude of the moment affecting him.
“I have nothing to lose,” Ricker said. “I’m looking at it as I need to go out there, give it all I have and just go for it.”