Yearbook Sports Feature Writing

1. Katie Bojan, Papillion-La Vista South

2. Rebecca Johnson, Lincoln East

3. Kristen Powell, Bellevue West

4. Kelsey Buglewicz, Millard South

5. Shelby Allen, McCook

6. Tessa Wellsandt, Johnson-Brock

Katie Bojan As the starting gun went off, the girl from the University of Nebraska with the “C” emblazoned on her uniform burst into motion. The Big 12 championship in heptathlon was in her grasp. Far from her home in Perth, Australia, senior Megan Wheatley found her place in Nebraska athletics. “Geographically I’m as far away from home as I could be,” Wheatley said. Not knowing much about American colleges, Wheatley decided to attend the university after a recruitment visit. The academics of American universities were a factor in attending school stateside for the track and field athlete. “My studies are important to me,” she said. “In Australia there is no such thing as a student athlete. You are either a student or an athlete. In Nebraska there are so many people to help you.” The adjustment was not easy for Wheatley. She faced many obstacles when she came to Nebraska as a student athlete. “I didn’t know anyone when I came here,” she said. “I had trouble understanding the teachers. They had very strong accents. It was a challenge to find my place in the athletic department.” Wheatley was able to find her place in the athletic department. After suffering an injury her sophomore year, she won her first Big 12 Championship in Heptathlon. “I was injured the entire indoor season,” Wheatley said. “I was limited to training in the pool or on the bike. Overcoming the initial injury was a big accomplishment.” The track and field team was a support system for Wheatley. “We have to rely on each other for support and motivation,” Wheatley said. “The people yelling the most for me are my training partners.” In her senior year, Wheatley was selected as team captain. “It’s great to be a role model for freshmen,” Wheatley said. “It’s up to the team captain to make sure the athletes are driven and motivated.”

Rebecca Johnson Megan Wheatley is no average athletic star. Growing up on a farm in Perth, Australia, Wheatley started track at a young girl of only 8 years old. Each Saturday, her parents would drive her into the city so she would have the opportunity to compete in what is now her favorite sport, Track and Field. Again, unlike most athletes, Wheatley “participated in all events-there was nothing I didn’t enjoy doing.” Her love for Track brought her to the United States in April of 2006 on a Recruit visit. Most would wonder… why Nebraska? Wheatley was first attracted to Nebraska due to the pleasant people. Moreover, Nebraska is #1 in academics, so Wheatley “was attracted to UNL because they had an excellent balance of academics and athletics. Track is very important to me, however I am still passionate about my studies. In Australia, there is no such thing as a student athlete. You receive no help, but in Nebraska, everyone helps you here. It’s great.” Wheatley partakes the heptathlon, which consists of 7 events and takes usually two days. The first day events include Hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put and the 100-meter dash. On the second day she finishes her contest with the Long Jump, Javelin, and the 800-meter run. “I know it’s a lot of events and very time consuming, but I love them all. It’s weird to be both the first and last one on the track literally every day, but it’s totally worth the challenge. It never gets boring because I’m always doing something different and always meeting new people.” Meeting new people was a great experience for Wheatley. Coming from Australia, she obviously did not know anyone who lived in Nebraska. “It was very overwhelming to come to a country where I didn’t know anyone,” Wheatley claims. “I even had a hard time understanding the professors due to their strong accent.” However, leaving her family was not the biggest problem on her list due to the fact that she “left home at 12 years old to be in a boarding school”. However, she has fallen in love with the diverse people here. “I lived with a Romanian girl, and I practice with South African Hurdlers. There is nothing like it!” Wheatley’s biggest accomplishment she claims was her sophomore year. Wheatley claims, “I was injured the entire season-I had a stress fracture in my foot. The only real practicing I could participate in was either in the book or on a bike”. However, she received her first title and the Big 12 championships that season in Colorado. “There was nothing like that comeback. I do not like to loose, so returning after an injury like that was very fulfilling.” Wheatley was then awarded the position of team captain of her team. “The most important thing to me as a senior was to point the freshman in the right direction. I can’t tell you how important that is-when I came here, I knew no one. The people here were so kind and helpful to me; I mean, my coach is like a father-a very, very good friend.” As stated before, Wheatley’s life does not only consist of athletics. She graduated this past Saturday, May 8th of 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Food Science and Technology. “No, we do not study food. Our main job is to create new foods on a regular basis. For example, when Oreos comes out with its ‘New Double Fillings’ or ‘Halloween Colors’; that’s what we do. When Ice Cream stores come out with new flavors each month, that’s because of Food sciences. I’m hoping one day I can walk down a grocery store isle and see my creation sitting on the shelf; that would be pretty cool.” However, Wheatley’s goal for the immediate future is to concentrate on Track and Field. “I have my degree; I mean, it will always be there. I can always come back to it anytime I want, however right now I want to focus on Track.” She plans to finish out her track season in the states, moving back to Australia in July. “My goal is to participate in the 2012 Olympics. That would be awesome. After that then I’m not entirely sure. I may return to the States to earn my Masters, or I may stay in Australia. The great thing about it though is thanks to Nebraska, I know people from all over the world. If I go to Europe for instance, I have people to stay with.” Overall, the American college experience for a farm girl from Australia has been life changing. Meeting new people, becoming a champion in Track&Field all the while succeeding as a student is quite the accomplishment. “I’m really proud that I’m an All-American. That’s pretty special to me. I mean, I feel like I’ve grown. I really came out of my shell.”

Kristen Powell Yearbook Sports Feature Writing In order to accomplish their dreams, athletes must constantly strive for excellence and sacrifice a relaxed, free lifestyle that many partake in. To attain the constant struggle of being the best the most important factor is an athlete’s drive. Megan Wheatley is an athlete who is well aware of the challenges that must be faced in order to reach a goal. “I began [track and field] at eight [years old] back in Australia in a small country town where I played in all the events,” Wheatley said. Wheatley spent her childhood on, geographically, the furthest place from Nebraska, but she knew that in order to establish herself as a well-educated athlete, this move across the globe was necessary. Wheatley said, “Lincoln was number one in academics and sports overall and I’m passionate about my studies.” The challenge in making such a large move was not in finding her independence, but rather adjusting to a new life of abrupt, intense weather, rougher practices, and foreign accents. Wheatley, however, was able to come to terms with these changes and adjust to a new life with life-long friends. “I know that whatever country I visit that I’ll always have a place to stay,” Wheatley said. As for her track and field abilities, her stats can do the talking for her. Wheatley is a proud All-American and also a three-time Big 12 champion. This past year she was the caption of her team on track and field and the president of SAAC- a group that represents 600 student athletes. Track and field has not only increased Wheatley’s friend count and endurance, but also has boosted her confidence and leadership skills- two admirable qualities. She held an assembly in which she had to speak to nearly 900 people, a task she admits would have been unachievable prior to her time spent at The University of Nebraska at Lincoln. With work from her supportive teammates and proud coaches, Wheatley has developed into a well-rounded individual with great aspirations for the future. Wheatley graduated from college this past week, but has profound plans of returning to Australia in July to go pro in track and field. She has an eminent drive to work hard at the professional level and qualify for the 2012 Olympics. Wheatley said, “I do what I love now because I can work for the rest of my life. You’re only young once.”

Kelsey Buglewicz Moving halfway across the world to chase an athletic dream is something that all athletes’ fight to accomplish but only few do. Megan Wheatley is one of the few given the opportunity of a lifetime. Wheatley, an Australian native, grew a passion for track and field at only eight years old. Growing up on a farm with her family forced her parents to drive her for miles to competitions on the weekends. They could tell at a very young age that she was not just going to be the average track and field athlete. She continued to fight for her athletic dreams all the way up to her high school graduation where she was offered a track and field scholarship at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln soon after. In 2006, she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, making her final decision to become a member of their track and field team. “I decided on this university because of the great balance it had between sports and academics because my school work is just as important to me as my athletics,” Wheatley said. Wheatley participates in the heptathlon, which is a two-day event where track and field athletes participate in seven different competitions, earning points for each individual competition to determine the winner. “I chose to be in the heptathlon because I love so many different track and field events that it was hard to choose just one, so this way I can do them all,” Wheatley said. Wheatley quickly made a name for herself in the heptathlon world, winning both the 2008 and 2009 Big 12 Championships for the heptathlon competition. However, she feels that her 2008 win was her biggest accomplishment because she spent that whole season exercising on her own due to a stress fracture and still came back to win her first championship title. “Overcoming my injury was a reward all in its own but winning the title just made me feel that much better,” Wheatley said. Wheatley continued to grow as a leader on her track and field team throughout her college career. As a senior Wheatley was nominated as a team captain and even named president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council. “To be a part of the track and field team is an accomplishment already but to be named captain is that much better, it felt great to be a true role model for the new freshman, I felt that was my most important role on the team,” Wheatley said. Not only did she win championships and awards throughout her career but she also made lasting friendships and gained personal benefits as well. “Running track is so liberating and is my form of stress relief, I also have met people from all over the world, now if I ever have to go to Europe I will always have a place to stay,” Wheatley said. Wheatley graduated as a student athlete from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln this last Saturday on May 8th, this was another goal crossed off her list. “In Australia students don’t usually graduate as student athletes so doing that here was a big deal for me,” Wheatley said. However, this may be the end to Wheatley’s college education but she is nowhere near ending her track and field career. She will spend this coming weekend competing at yet another Big 12 Championship. Then she will be competing in the Regional competition and eventually Nationals in June. After these final competitions she has plans to move back to Australia and go pro fighting for her final goal: competing in the 2012 Olympics as a part of the Australian track and field team. “I just want to do what I love right now and continue on with my track and field dreams as long as a can, I have the rest of my life to work,” Wheatley said.

Shelby Allen “Making new friends from all over the world and knowing I have a place to stay if I was to ever visit, feels awesome,” senior Megan Wheatley said. Wheatley is farm girl recruit from Perth, Australia. Her long time interest in track landed her a full scholarship at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. “When I was 8 years old, every weekend my parents would take me to the city to compete in track events,” Wheatley said. “I grew to like it and I looked for a college that had a good academic and athletic program.” She was surprised at how friendly the people in Nebraska were and she liked the atmosphere so much that it became one of her bigger deciding factors. Being half way around the globe from her parents would seem to be even more of a factor, but not for Wheatley. “I moved out of my parents home when I was 12 years old to attend a boarding school,” Wheatley said. “So naturally I’m used to living on the school campus away from home.” The weather, however, was not something she was used to. “I lived on a farm near a beach for my whole life, so when winter came around and it snowed I had no clue what to do,” Wheatley said. “I quickly learned to wear layers and I actually enjoy the snow now.” Wheatley works very hard academically and using her track workouts to relieve some stress. She trains very hard and finds her athletic abilities to be both a blessing and a curse. “I compete in a bunch of different events. A heptathlon is one of them, which is basically seven events over a two-day period. It’s a bit of a curse but I like the challenge,” Wheatley said. “I am very competitive and I don’t like to lose.” She has overcome a lot while competing on the track team at the University of Nebraska. Her sophomore year she injured her foot and was out for all the indoor track events. “I had a stress fracture in my foot and was not able to compete until the Big XII Conference. It was in Boulder, Colorado that I won my first Big XII Championship,” Wheatley said. “I have won three Big XII Championships and been All-American. It would not be that way without my teammates though. They cheer me on because track doesn’t bring in a big crowd so you must rely on teammates.” Her determination doesn’t stop there, however, because as she recently graduated she plans to go back to Australia and pursue a bigger dream. “I am heading back to Australia to participate as a professional in track to see how far I can get. I want to hopefully be on the 2012 Olympic Track team,” Wheatley said. “I would be like everyone else and go into the work force but I want to pursue my dream and do what I love first and work later. I have my whole life to work.”

Tessa Wellsandt “Here at Nebraska, you are pushed to be the best you can be, even more than you think you can be…seven days a week.” From an Academic All-American in the classroom to a captain on Track and Field team, Senior Megan Wheatley has learned to balance her time between her two passions. Her passion for track is deeply rooted back to her home in Perth, Australia. At the age of eight, Wheatley’s parents would drive her to the city each day for track practice. This passion stuck with her throughout her high school career as the scholarship offers came pouring in. On a recruit visit in April 2006, Wheatley fell in love with the Nebraskan culture and the friendliness of its patrons. “Back in Australia, there is no such thing as a ‘student-athlete.’ This college showed a good balance between academics and athletics,” she noted as her main motivation for choosing the Cornhusker State. And so, her career as a college student-athlete began as she boarded her flight to America. “I was used to being an independent person,” she recalls, “but moving geographically far away from home as I could be was definitely an adjustment.” Finding her classes, determining what the teachers expected, and deciphering the Nebraskans’ accents, were among the first challenges she faced. Along with peak of her athletic career, came another unforeseen challenge. Entering her sophomore year, Wheatley was hindered by a stress fracture in her foot. After many hours spent on the exercise bike or in the pool, Wheatley was able to make her grand appearance at the Big 12 Conference. Fans doubting whether she was back to her original strength, Wheatley proved them wrong as she was crowned as the Big 12 Champion. Over the 4 years, Wheatley has overcome the obstacles, and grown quite accustomed to the different lifestyle in Nebraska. “Growing up on the beach, snow was definitely a shock, but I love it now,” she reminisces. Wheatley has found her personal source of relief from all of the stress as a student-athlete. “I’m a very competitive person and track is very liberating,” Wheatley proudly states. “After hours in the classroom studying hard, a hard track practice is a great stress reliever.”

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