UNO athletes bring home accolades

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June 28th, 2013

Omaha, NE – UNO’s Sami Spenner, a junior from Columbus who competes on the track and field team, finished 10th last week in the heptathlon at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

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The heptathlon is the women’s equivalent to the decathlon, which includes seven events over two days. UNO’s head coach Steve Smith says it was Spenner’s final event, the 800 meter dash, that was her most impressive.

“In the 800, which she has been improving in all year, she was in a competition with some of the best athletes in the nation,” Smith said. “These girls, some of them seasoned veterans, that are well in their 20’s some even close to 30 years old and they can flat out run the 800. So she rose to the occasion, she has the ability and has run some pretty decent 800’s (this year) but she was in a field that was very talented but she rose to the occasion and put up a really good time ,” he said.

Spenner had a stellar junior year as the Summit League’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year and as a member of the All-League Team. But she isn’t looking at her past accomplishments; she is looking at improving as an athlete heading into her senior campaign.

“(I was) kind of hoping that training is a little bit harder just so I can push myself a little bit more so I can see those changes for next season,” Spenner said. “And I have my own personal goals out there and I hoping with my coaches training that I get to reach those goals.” she said.

Spenner isn’t the only Maverick who’s had an outstanding year. Senior outfielder Ryan Keele has been named the Summit League’s Male Athlete of the Month for May and June. This following a month span which included a .529 batting average for May and a massive .754 slugging percentage to go with 19 RBI. It was Keele who hit the decisive walk-off home-run to secure the Mavericks first Division-I regular season title and head coach Bob Herold says Keele may have only played at UNO for one year, but he made a major impact.

“He brought some leadership. He brought some maturity to our team,” Herold said. “(He’s got) really good work ethic, he has incredible discipline at the plate and immense power. So he’s got a really good eye (and) he’s a very advanced hitter; he will still make you walk him but if you don’t walk him then he is going to hit it hard someplace and I mean it is usually a long ways. He ended up being, besides an outstanding ball player, a very good team leader too,’ he said.

Keele wasn’t selected in the Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft in June, which baffles Herold. Herold also said it wasn’t clear what Keele planned to do going forward, but he called him a blessing to UNO’s baseball program.

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