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Loper track team off to a fast start
Clayton Kush
Antelope Staff
Photo by A Sanam Bhaila
Heather Wills, a junior from Curtis, bounds for her last triple jump. Wills placed first in both the long (17-11 3/4) and triple jump (36-1 1/4).

With the bang of a starting gun, they were off and running. Loper Indoor track athletes could also be seen jumping, throwing, hurdling and pole vaulting their way to first place finishes in nearly every event last Friday and Saturday here at UNK.

At the Pre-Holiday Open at Cushing Coliseum, which kicked off the indoor track season for the Lopers, Loper athletes were greeted by eager, supportive fans with high expectations for the team this season. Athletes were also feeling those expectations as they’ve set their goals high for this season.

The expectations are set especially high for Brandon Wissing, a junior from Grand Island who runs the 400-meter and the mile. “ Winning a conference title is really what we’ve set out to do this year. That would be a huge accomplishment because we would most likely have to beat Adams State to do that as they are a top ranked team,” Wissing said.

Starting the season with a meet at UNK was definitely an advantage to Wissing and the team. “Having our first track meet at home really provided us with a lot of motivation and was good because this was the first time our entire team has been together,” Wissing said.

This was a inner squad meet with UNK competitors split into blue and gold.  The gold team won on both men 'sand women’s sides with each scoring 59 points, and the blue team was close behind with the women scoring 48 points and the men with 56 points.

On the women's side, Laura Stengel, a sophomore from Deshler, also felt that the team will do well in conference this season and was focused on improving herself. “This year I’m looking to make my mark and improve from last season,” Stengel said. Firing off the starting gun in front of a home crowd was a great way to start off the season, Stengel said.

The atmosphere and excitement of the event was intensified by the Loper’s success on the track. Loper athletes were competing against competitors from Doane, Bethany, Ashford and Northwest Missouri State University.

Spencer Huff really stood out in the long jump as he set a record of 24-1 3/4, which was good enough to qualify him for the NCAA Championships. UNK had complete domination in the women’s 400-meter dash as UNK’s Kiley Hauer finished second behind fellow teamate Shelby Hamilton. The men’s 200 and 400-meter dash were both won by Loper runner Alex Paul.

It was a great start to a promising season for the UNK indoor track team as they make their dash for a conference title this season. It is going to take a great deal of teamwork, which is something both Wissing and Stengel feel this team has. “We are very supportive of everyone else during their events,” Wissing said. “I really like all my teammates and coaches; they have always been very supportive,” Stengel said.

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