Fall-Winter 2014 Vaulters

  • Engineering students soar to new heights as athletes

    Soaring to new heights

Three Nebraska Engineering students are soaring to success both in the classroom and as pole vaulters for the UNL track and field teams.
UNL pole vaulters posing for photo
Biological Systems Engineering Majors Paula Andrie, Steven Cahoy and Karlye Cygan are pole vaulters for the UNL Track and Field teams.
When athletes talk about their performances by using the phrases “soaring to new heights” or “raising the bar,” the words are usually dismissed as just one of many sports clichés.

Not for Paula Andrie, Steven Cahoy and Karlye Cygan. For these UNL pole vaulters, those words carry meaning in all phases of their campus lives. That’s especially so when committing to being both a top student and an elite athlete.

“I pretty much live at campus or here (the Devaney Sports Center indoor track),” said Andrie, who was on the Dean’s List this past spring and finished fifth in the 2013 and 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships and has a personal-best vault of 13 feet, 4½ inches. She’s a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and was a 2013 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. “But studying engineering is very time-consuming. I have to stay committed.”

One of the greatest challenges of balancing their engineering studies with being a college athlete is making scheduling adjustments that are foreign to some of their teammates, who usually begin their daily practices at 3:30 p.m.

“The funny thing is that (the track coaching staff) always tries to get us to work our class schedule around our practice schedule, but we basically have to work our practice schedule around our class schedule,” Andrie said.

“The further along you get in school, the more you run into wanting to take a certain class and it’s only offered at this one time,” Andrie said. “If it’s offered only late in the afternoon, then I’m going to take that class and go practice at 6 p.m.”

This semester, for example, Cahoy has an engineering class that starts at 3:30 p.m. three days a week. That pushes his training schedule later in the day.

“Rarely do I get back to my apartment before 8 p.m.,” said Cahoy, a sophomore and the son of former Husker national champion gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Phil Cahoy. “I have biosystems, then I have practice, then I go home and from 8 to midnight I’m studying. But I’m getting used to it.”

Cygan, however, is finding the pace of her life to be less hectic now that she’s in her first year of college.

“I think this is a lot easier than when I was running around and playing three different sports at once and doing schoolwork,” Cygan said. “Now, with study halls built in and having time scheduled to study, it’s a lot more structured and every day I have a schedule I stick to in order to succeed.

“School’s hard, still, but it’s fun. It’s a good balance. I feel that if I wasn’t in sports, it would be really hard to balance it and the back-and-forth of having a life outside of school.”

Occasionally, the vaulters find themselves applying what they’ve learned in engineering classes to their athletic training.

“Pole vaulting involves a lot of what we learn in engineering classes,” said Cahoy, who has an outdoor personal best vault of 17 feet, 8½ inches and finished fifth at the 2014 Big Ten Indoor. “In biosystems, we work with compression, and I’ve thought about how a vaulting pole compresses and recoils and how I can use that to go even higher.”


(List of athletes provided by University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska-Omaha athletic departments)

Agricultural Engineering
Kye Kurkowsk, Men’s basketball
Mark Hilderbrand, Men’s track and field
Biological Systems Engineering
Alexander Magsam, Men’s gymnastics
Steven Cahoy, Men’s track and field
Grant Zebold, Men’s track and field
Nicole Schwery, Swimming and diving
Paula Andrie, Women’s track and field
Karlye Cygan, Women’s track and field
Kari Heck, Women’s track and field
Megan Lush, Women’s track and field
Chemical Engineering
Jacob Olson, Men’s track and field
Alec Sery, Men’s track and field
Alexandra Mosquera, Bowling
Kendall Cast, Women’s track and field
Civil Engineering
Colton Howell, Baseball
Bo Kittrell, Football
Connor Adamsick, Men’s gymnastics
Jonah Heng, Men’s track and field
Alney Tobias, Men’s track and field
Construction Management
Graham Nabity, Football
Trevor Wojtalewicz, Men’s track and field
Electrical Engineering
Mate Koroknai, Men’s track and field
Drew Wiseman, Men’s track and field
Tyrell Galloway, Wrestling
Mechanical Engineering
Benjamin Miller, Baseball
Robert Painter, Football
Nicholas Bartels, Men’s track and field
Patrick Letz, Men’s track and field
Andrew Neal, Men’s track and field
Peter Spinks, Men’s track and field
Brooks Brennan, Soccer
Alexandria Oak, Women’s track and field
Adam Joseph, Wrestling

Architectural Engineering
Stephanie Ahrens, Women’s track and field
Monica Houck, Swimming
Civil Engineering
Katelyn Strudthoff, Women’s golf
Construction Engineering
Daniel Meyer, Men’s basketball
Construction Management
John Ellis, Men’s tennis
Rose Gensichen, Women’s track and field
Brian Rideout, Ice hockey