Q&A: UNO’s Track and Field Coach Chris Richardson

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April 16th, 2014

Omaha, NE — Chris Richardson is head coach of the Track and Field team at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Since taking over in July of 2013 he has coached one of the top athletes in the nation, Sami Spenner.

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Spenner, a senior, was awarded the Summit League’s Field Championship MVP during both the indoor and outdoor season in 2013. She was also named the Summit’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year as a junior.

Spenner was handed a bit of a setback when she learned she would not be able to compete in national tournaments or championships. Per NCAA rules, Sami Spenner is ineligible to compete due to UNO’s move to Division-I in 2011. UNO athletes and all sports programs will be eligible for post-season play during the 2015-2016 season.

KVNO: Coach talk about her struggle this past year and how she has responded.

Sami Spenner won all three events that she competed in during the USD Snowbird on April 5. (Photo Courtesy UNO Athletics)

Sami Spenner won all three events that she competed in during the USD Snowbird on April 5. (Photo Courtesy UNO Athletics)

Chris Richardson: One of the things she has definitely struggled with a little bit at certain times is finding the motivation when she is by far the best competitor in the field. When you come into a situation like that you have to find that internal motivation to keep you going. Certain student-athletes know that they are always striving to get to the national meet. Since we’ve been in the situation that we are, Sami doesn’t have that opportunity. So she needs to continue to find that motivation to get better, even though she is not going for that ultimate goal of playing in the NCAA championships.

KVNO: How are you dealing with not being eligible to the post season?

Richardson: What we are trying to do is have our main goal be the USA championships. So we are trying to use that as our motivation to take that next step and in reality looking further into the future of the possibility of Olympic trials in two years.

KVNO: What are Sami’s chances at the Olympics?

Richardson: From what it is looking like right now, she has an opportunity to do it. But when that time comes there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be good enough to go. It’s going to be who gets it done on that day.

KVNO: With the Kansas and Drake relays coming up, how will your team fare?

Richardson: It’s going to be good. We are going to be on the bigger stage and it is going to be up to the team to be a little more mental tough. Obviously we want to be physically ready, but we need to be mentally ready as well. There is going to be better competition. I think they are ready for that. I think they are ready for the challenge to step up and show people what they can do.

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