Sutter High product and Nebraska freshman Madelynn Erickson begins her first NCAA championship tournament with the Cornhuskers on Friday in Columbus, Ohio,
Competition starts Friday (6:30 a.m.) and Saturday (6:45 a.m.).
The Huskers qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2020, but the event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Erickson competes in both air rifle and small-bore events, and has been in the lineup the majority of the season. The rest of the roster will include senior Emile Cheramie, juniors Kinga Aletto and Elena Flake and freshmen Cecelia Ossi.
For second-year Coach Rachel Martin, this weekend’s championship appearance is the culmination of a two-year journey for the Huskers.
“This NCAAs is a couple years in the making,” said Martin, who was hired in April 2019. “I think last year was devastating for all the competitors that worked so hard to make it, only to have COVID take away that experience and many others to follow.”
Martin is proud of her team’s perseverance during the pandemic, which not only took away last year’s NCAAs, but also the entire fall season before the Huskers returned to action in January.
“This season has not been perfect, as we are finding our feet again after being unable to compete in the fall and relying completely on our few performances in the spring to qualify for the championships,” Martin said. “When we look back at this past year, I think we will remember how we came together as a team through a very difficult time and made the most out of the opportunities that were given to us.”
Nebraska joins Air Force, Alaska Fairbanks, Kentucky, Memphis, Ole Miss, TCU and West Virginia in the eight-team field. This marks the 18th time the Huskers have qualified for the NCAA Championship since the program began during the 1998-99 season. In all, Nebraska has qualified as a team in nine of the last 10 seasons. Nebraska will be bidding for its first top-five NCAA finish since the 2015 squad placed fifth.
Martin knows the Huskers, who qualified seventh, have a significant challenge in front of them, but has a belief that her team can surprise people in Columbus.
NU looks to be at full strength, as Emily Cheramie looks to return after missing the Great American Rifle Conference Championships with an injury.
“We have our work cut out for us, as there are some stellar teams that show no intention of allowing us to pass them easily.” Martin said. “But we have very determined and dedicated athletes that can do amazing things when they give themselves the chance. Cheramie has led the team well and is a consistent top performer in the NCAA. Erickson and Ossi have been amazing additions to the team this year. Aletto is one of the most intelligent shooters I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and Flake has the ability to put out some amazing performances.”