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The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Cats to Wolves

Millard West runner commits to Nebraska Wesleyan
Lining+up+at+the+starting+blocks%2C+senior+Jersey+Koza+prepares+to+run+the+400-meter+dash.+She+competed+in+the+400+throughout+the+season+and+at+the+district+championships.+%E2%80%9CRunning+the+400-meter+dash+was+both+exciting+and+nerve-wracking+simultaneously%2C%E2%80%9D+Koza+said.+%E2%80%9CThe+moments+leading+up+to+the+race+are+the+worst%2C+but+finishing+the+race+is+the+best+feeling+knowing+you+have+accomplished+your+event%2C+giving+it+your+all.%E2%80%9D
Lining up at the starting blocks, senior Jersey Koza prepares to run the 400-meter dash. She competed in the 400 throughout the season and at the district championships. “Running the 400-meter dash was both exciting and nerve-wracking simultaneously,” Koza said. “The moments leading up to the race are the worst, but finishing the race is the best feeling knowing you have accomplished your event, giving it your all.”

Four years is all the time an athlete has in high school to catch college coaches’ attention and earn what could be their future. On Nov. 8, 2023, senior Jersey Koza committed to Nebraska Wesleyan University to run track. 

Going into freshman year, Koza started as a sprinter. Since the end of freshman year, she has been very passionate about track and competing in college but didn’t realize it could be a reality until not long ago. Her coaches and teammates have helped her along the way, and her great passion has guided her through this journey. 

“I love the sport and want to continue to watch myself improve and grow as an athlete,” Koza said. “Watching my sisters run in college and getting the vibe of what a college meet looks like also grew my desire because I could imagine myself there. My teammates over these last three years have helped me grow and I want to surround myself with people who relate to my passion for my sport in college.”

Track can be a very demanding sport, but that does not mean it is not worth it. Koza understands that education is important, and that if she is not succeeding in sports she will not be able to compete in sports, so she appreciates the balance that the school offers. Also, the new coach at her college is very dedicated to his job and the college itself has an amazing environment she wants to be a part of. Koza’s sprint coach Michael Bowker has worked with her since freshman year to overcome obstacles and improve. 

“I think it is a cool deal when athletes I coach continue and compete in college,” Bowker said. “Koza is very coachable and cares about getting better. She makes my job as a coach very easy.”

Having a coach there for Koza was key for her technique, mindset, and encouragement. But, having a parent there to support her benefited her greatly because she always knew there was someone outside of the sport who had her back. The level of competition and intensity of college sports greatly differs from high school. Her mom guides her through hard times and is a main part of her support system. From giving mindset advice to comforting her after a bad race, her mom has been there no matter what. 

“I have been her loudest cheerleader at each meet no matter how cold or wet I have gotten,”mother Sarah Ball said. “I am super excited as we have four more years of traveling and watching her run. Being in any sport, she has to be able to balance family, friends, school, and work, along with the sport itself. This has taught Jersey how to prioritize and know that she will not win every race, but if she keeps going for the gold, she will succeed.”

As Koza spends the next four years competing for the Prairie Wolf team, she will carry on her high school journey with her. She knows that college track is a different type of beast and is willing to go for it because she wants to do what she loves and keep running as long as she can.

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About the Contributor
Sophia Eljamal, Staff Reporter
Sophia is a junior at Millard West and this is her first year on the staff for the CATalyst. She likes traveling around the world and running. Over the summer, she traveled to numerous countries in Europe. In her free time, she enjoys going shopping, hanging out with her friends, and listening to music. She also loves to work and watch her favorite shows and movies on Netflix. Sophia looks forward to writing stories about sports and working with her classmates to produce interesting stories.

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