Medical student finds structure running with track team


Ben Arens holds the indoor school record at 3,000 meters. Photo by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff


For Ben Arens, maintaining a 4.0 GPA is an impressive task. Add in being on the track and cross-country teams majoring in biology while working toward medical school. 

Now it’s not just impressive, it’s shocking. 

However, without this many commitments, Arens may not have been as successful.

“Being a part of the track and cross-country team really helped add some structure,” Arens said. “If I didn’t have it, it probably would have been harder to manage my time.”

While Arens’ schedule seems packed for some, it helped him stay on task with his athletic and academic performance. He earned All-American honors in steeplechase a year ago and qualified for the MIAA indoor championships this spring. 

Arens was also named the first-ever recipient of the MIAA’s ‘A Game’ Scholar Award for men’s indoor track and field in February. The award is given to the individual who contributes to their team’s success while also achieving the highest level of academic excellence. Additionally, he has won an MIAA Excellence Award in all his years at UNK for having a 4.0 GPA.

This balance of running and academics was just what Arens was looking for when he came to UNK.

“There were some other schools that I visited that were more running focused or less running focused,” he said. “UNK was the perfect balance between being able to run well and have a good educational experience too.”

With a strong list of accolades accumulating on and off the track, Arens will begin to look ahead beyond his athletic career.

Arens, a student in the Kearney Health Opportunities Program, will graduate in May with a degree in biology and will go on to attend UNMC in the fall to become a primary care physician.

Being from the town of Ainsworth, with a population of around 1,700, Arens wants to return to his rural roots and practice medicine in a smaller community.

“Rural areas are a perfect place for primary care,” Arens said. “There’s a deficit in healthcare in these areas, and so I think being able to fill that need is something that I am passionate about.”

Even though Arens likes the structure he has in his college life, it’s the lack of structure that he looks forward to when becoming a physician.

“I like it because you can have a lot of variety with what each day is going to be,” Arens said. “You’ll get to see, you know, newborns all the way up to elderly patients, and then there’s a lot of patient continuity too…if you’re practicing in the same place, you might see people for their entire life.”

And even though he is looking ahead, Arens isn’t done yet.

“I know at some point running is going to be over,” he said. “So I want to pursue the other passions I have outside of running, but at the same time, you want to make the most of the running while you’re here.”

Ben Arens balances a lot. Being on two athletic teams is a lot on its own, but add in being a biology major in the KHOP program, and it becomes almost insane to think about. However, Arens believes that these commitments have made him a balanced student and athlete.