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The Antelope

The Antelope

Through the eyes with Machol Chol


By Machol Chol

Mandera Gatwech, a senior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, helps illustrates the challenges and rewards that are involved with being a full-time student and athlete.

Although Mandera spent most of his life in Lincoln, he also spent a few years in Omaha, where he attended Mars Middle School and first realized his potential in track and field.

“The first race I ran was the 400. It was hard, it was like a long sprint,’’ Mandera said about his initial experience with track.

Nearing the conclusion of a successful career of high school track and field, Mandera was on his way to potentially joining collegiate track teams around the country, the likes of which included schools such as the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. This was the case until an unexpected injury threw a wrench in the works. The injury ultimately led him to continuing his education and track and field career at UNK. Mandera said, “Once I got injured, the only team that continued to recruit me was Kearney.”

Mandera currently runs sprints for the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The races that he has participated in since joining the track team in the fall of 2014 include: The 400, 200, 4×400, and the DMR or the distance medley relay. Mandera stated that his favorite race is the 200; even though, he’s proven the 400 to be his best race. 

During his four years at UNK, Mandera has made an argument for why he was worth recruiting. Some of Mandera’s accomplishments include, five UNK indoor and outdoor top-ten performances.

Mandera, along with other teammates, hold first and second place spots in the distance medley relay for the fastest time in school history. The DMR is a relay that starts off with the 1000-meter run, followed by the 400, which is followed by the 800, with the last leg being a 1600-meter run.

Mandera is also part of the No. 1 overall spot in the 4×400 with a time of 3:17. Individually, Mandera currently owns the number six spot for both indoor and outdoor top ten places in the 400-meter run, with times of 49.11 indoors and 48.10 outdoors, according to the Lopers website. 

Some of Mandera’s hobbies, outside of track and field, include playing basketball and golfing for fun. He says, “If I had to choose a sport to play outside of my current sport it would be golf.” When asked to choose what event he would participate in outside of his current track events, Mandera mentioned he would most likely compete in the jumps. “I would long jump because I’m fast and can jump high.”

In his fourth year, Mandera is a senior construction management major and is projected to graduate in 2019. Mandera says he plans on starting a career in construction management after graduation because of the high rate of employment for graduates in the field.

Mandera leaves anyone who is a student athlete with the following words of advice, “You have to embrace the challenge—work through the pain. Because it’s not the destination; it’s the journey.”

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