Mavs surprise themselves, qualify for nationals


By Mo Nuwwarah, Opinion Editor

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 relay team – Kayla Koepke, Maja Mihalinec, Celeste Robinson and Anja Puc – ran together for the first time and surprised even themselves.

“It’s kind of funny because none of us believed we could actually run that fast,” Puc said. “Coach was telling us we could do it, but we were just like, ‘yeah, whatever.’ I’m really happy.”

The Mavs finished fourth in the event with a time of 3:49.43, good for sixth in the nation.

Mihalinec, a junior from Mozirje, Slovenia, finished second in the 60-meter dash. She said relays bring extra moviation.

“Our main goal was to qualify for nationals,” she said. “We’re always motivated to run a relay because it’s a team event that takes team effort.”

Senior Nkeiruka Domike long jumped an event-best 19-3 ½.  She topped her previous mark by seven inches and now owns the second-best jump in Division II this season.

A pair of Mavs finished fourth in individual events. Junior hurdler Jody-Ann Coore notched a personal best, completing the 60-meter course in 8.77. Heather Minssen hurled a shot put 47-9 ¼.

Nicole Behm, a sophomore from North Platte, took third in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 3:09.75.

The Mavs now look forward to the MIAA indoor championship, which runs from Feb. 25-27 in Warrensburg, Mo. They’ve won the event each of the past two years.

“It’s one of the highlights of the season,” said Mihalinec, who will compete in the 60-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 4 x 400 meter relay. “It counts as a team competition, so it’s important that the whole team competes well.”

Puc, who will run the 800-meter, the mile and the relay, noted the addition of Lincoln (Mo.) to the event brings additional pressure.

“They have really good sprinters, and sprints are where we usually get the most points,” she said. “It’s going to be tough. We’ll fight, and we’ll do our best.”