Finishing in the top 20 is normally a springboard to further success the following season. For the UNO women's track and field team and Assistant Coach Chris Richardson, competing in 2012 means much more than just getting better than last year.
Just five days after competing in six events at the Summit League Indoor Championships, Sami Spenner went to the U.S. Track and Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. and cemented her reputation as one of Division I's best athletes.
On Feb. 25, she was named the Field MVP at the conference championships. March 1 Spenner finished fourth in the pentathlon and bested her own school record with a final score of 4,271 points.
Spenner's result in Albuquerque was just 207 points behind winner Sharon Day, last summer's runner-up at the Olympic Trials. Weeks later Day went on to wear the red, white and blue and compete in the 2012 London Games.
But despite those facts, the NCAA denied UNO's request to grant Spenner a waiver to compete in any NCAA championship events. Steve Smith, the head coach of UNO track and field, likens the NCAA's handling of Spenner to the football program at Southern Methodist receiving the death penalty in 1987
Lianne McNaughton, Kathie-Lee Laidley and Denneil Shaw all took their love for track to the next level when they left their home country of Jamaica to come to an unknown place called Nebraska.
"I didn't know where (Nebraska) was when I landed," McNaughton said. "I found out after where I was when I was there."
Shaw and Laidley, both junior jumpers on the team, knew each other before coming to UNO from St. Andrew High School for Girls in Portmore, Jamaica, near the capital city of Kingston. Senior thrower Lianne McNaughton attended Campion College High School in Kingston before coming to UNO.
All three are major contributors to a team that looks to be one of the strongest in The Summit League.
In the second to last weekend of competition, the UNO women's track team didn't show any signs of slowing down. Two days of competition at the Doane Relays earned the Mavs one meet record that was just shy of a school record, six event wins and eight personal bests.
Sami Spenner of the UNO women's track team was named the Summit League Woman
Athlete of the week last week for the third time in a row. It's also the fourth time Spenner has received the award this year.
It's a surprising feat, until one learns she almost qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials last summer and is one of the best athletes in all of Division I Track.
Spenner's continued success this season, after what she accomplished last year, has proven
to many just how exceptional of an athlete she truly is.
The UNO track and field team returned from a Friday meet in Lincoln, Neb., freshly qualified for the NCAA Division II indoor track and field championship in the 4 x 400 meter relay.
The UNO track and field team finished fourth this past weekend at the MIAA Indoor Track and Field Championship in Warrensburg, Mo.