LINCOLN — Nebraska senior Jarren Heng expects to make his season debut Saturday morning at the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational.
The Norfolk native has been battling injuries.
“I’m super excited to get back on the course. It’s a great feeling to compete after not being able to compete for the last year on the track and on the cross country course,” Heng said. “It has been a long road back, and I believe the team has a great chance of winning.”
Connor Gibson, a junior from Blair who lettered for the Huskers in 2011, also makes his return.
The Huskers co-host the meet with Nebraska Wesleyan.
The women’s six-kilometer race opens the competition at 10 a.m. at Pioneers Park, followed by the men’s eight-kilometer event. More than 60 men’s and women’s teams will compete with more than 500 student-athletes participating.
The Husker rosters are filled with homegrown runners, including Lincoln natives and co-captains Trevor Vidlak and Sarah Larson.
Vidlak, a Lincoln Northeast graduate, is coming off one of the best performances of his career in an opening-meet win at the Augustana Twilight. The fifth-year senior captured USTFCCCA national runner-of-the-week honors after winning the Augustana Twilight in a time of 18:18.03. He also claimed the first Big Ten runner-of-the-week award of his career.
Vidlak, who did not compete during the 2012 season because of injury, led the Huskers with a fourth-place finish (24:46.22) at the 2011 Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational.
Larson, a junior out of Lincoln Northeast, led the Husker women at last year’s Woody Greeno with a 14th-place finish (22:26.1).
Freshman Joe Harter will be looking for another strong finish. Harter, the 2012 Gatorade Nebraska cross country runner of the year from Millard West, was NU’s No. 2 finisher at the season-opening Augustana Twilight.
Jacob Olson, the 2011 Gatorade runner of the year at Kearney High, and 2013 Lincoln Southwest grad Lucas Keifer also expect to use their experience on the course to their advantage.
Nebraska Head Coach David Harris said the Huskers have had a two strong weeks of training leading up to the Woody Greeno, and he hopes they are primed to compete at a high level.
“I probably have them a little tired to be honest,” Harris said. “The training has been tough. We have tried to work these last two weeks. The last couple days of practice have been a little bit easier, and now it is time to get them rest so their legs can get a little bit of rest.”
Harris said the Huskers are looking forward to hosting the event at Pioneers Park.
“Pioneers Park is a course that we probably have over 35 races on during the year with high school events,” Harris said. “It is very well known. It is important that we have a home meet. We want to perform really well in front of our track and field athletes and our coaching staff that will be out there. We don’t compete at home that much. This is the only time we do that.”