Wildcat of the Week: Justine Wheeler

Senior+Justine+Wheeler+races+in+a+varsity+girls+5K+cross+country+meet.+

Wildcat Photo

Senior Justine Wheeler races in a varsity girls 5K cross country meet.

Erin Pickert, Feature Editor

After joining varsity cross country and track and field her freshman year at De Soto High School and continuing her running career throughout high school, senior Justine Wheeler is ready to continue her running career at Mid-America Nazarene University. 

Wheeler committed in December of 2019 ready to begin her collegiate experience her freshman year on campus in 2020.

“I enjoyed running so much in high school that I always kind of knew I would run in college. I just didn’t want to stop running and college was the next step after high school,” Wheeler said. 

Wheeler credits her junior and senior year coach, Jack Sachse, with making the recruitment process easier and being a big encouragement to her.

Sachse was able to provide Wheeler with advice, including what she could expect and good things to ask the coaches. Yet, he claims, Wheeler was very proactive in the process.

 “Her opportunity is a reflection of her reaching out,” Sachse said.

Wheeler’s recruitment process included sending her personal records in races and then MNU coaches responding with their interest.

Sachse said that Wheeler has a lot to bring to the table.

“Athletically, she’s really versatile so she’s good from the 800 [meters] on up to 5K, and she’s qualified for State in that range of events,” Sachse said. “Leadership-wise, [she’s] more of a quiet lead by example athlete, but it’s really appreciated. I mean she just brings a ton to our team.”

 After communicating with MNU coaches, Wheeler visited campus and felt right at home.

“I ended up choosing MNU because I wanted to be close to home, and it is a really solid Christian college. I know a couple of people who have gone there and I have only heard good things about MNU,” Wheeler said. “When I visited I just felt so welcomed and I knew I could imagine myself going there.” 

After what Wheeler claims to be an extremely successful and enjoyable high school running career, she is excited to see where her passion will take her next.

“I am definitely looking forward to running at the collegiate level. I love the adrenaline rush that comes every time I run a race, and I also think it will be fun to hang out with the team and make some new friends,” Wheeler said. 

Sachse also recalls team comradery being something he deeply valued in college.

“When I look back to my own college experience, my best friends, who I still stay in touch with, were on the track team. Right when you get on campus there’s already kind of a built in little community … I think she’ll like that as well,” Sachse said.

Wheeler has one season left of running in high school before she joins her new team at Mid-America.

“I am really looking forward to being in that positive atmosphere in college,” Wheeler said.