By Jaime Melton, Contributor
Motivation and positivity is what fuels Kayla Fenske’s fire for running cross country.
Fenske is the only senior cross country runner for the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She went to high school in Fremont, Neb., where she began running cross country in her freshman year. When it came time to choose a college, Fenske knew she wanted to continue cross country.
“I knew personally that I wanted to be somewhere close to home, and I knew I wanted to run in college,” Fenske said. “I knew at the time that I would be better suited to a D-2 school so that’s why I chose UNO.”
Fenske’s said her biggest influence has been her high school coach, Diane Hento. Fenske’s history with Hento goes back to elementary school, where Hento was the P.E. teacher.
“She was a big motivator for me,” Fenske said.
When Fenske was a freshman in high school, Hento pushed her to give cross country a try.
“Once I tried it, I found out it suited me really well and was a good sport for me,” Fenske said.
Since high school, Fenske has competed in over 15 races as a Maverick, holding a top 6k time of 24:29 at the MIAA championship and several personal records.
Now as the only senior on the team, Fenske said she’s grown into the position of being a leader.
“I really like having everyone look up to me and it feels good to be a leader on the team,” Fenske said.
Motivation can be a struggle for any athlete. Fenske said she faces struggles in herself mentally more than the physical struggles of the sport. She said to counter that struggle she tries to stay positive.
“I find myself getting in mental blocks a lot and having that desire to want to run every day,” she said.
Fenske’s biggest motivation comes from her team. She works hard to do well because everyone on the team counts on each other.
“They’ve become my best friends over the last four years,” she said.
This year Fenske wants to focus on passing her personal records. She wants her last year to be her most memorable, and in order to do that she said she’ll have to work hard at getting better with practice and beating her personal bests at meets.
Her goals for the team is to place in the top three at Conference, and for the team to all continue to get better without overwhelming themselves between school and running.
After graduation, Fenske plans on working as a sports psychologist.
“There are lots of barriers in running, and I want to help college athletes overcome some of the struggles I’ve experienced myself.”