Physical setbacks have never defined Madi Muma, but they’ve served as episodes that have made her come back stronger.

Brian Kabourek, cross country and track and field coach at Lincoln East High School, shares the following timeline of what the Spartans’ distance runner has endured in her lifetime:

- Seven years ago, her parents sat nervously at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, awaiting news of Madi’s bone marrow biopsy to rule out leukemia. Her doctor proceeded to announce the best three words imaginable: “It was negative.”

- In December 2013, Madi underwent a left knee surgery at Nebraska Surgical Center to repair her patella-femoral ligament.

- In April 2016, the Muma family was back at Nebraska Surgical Center, this time for the same surgery on Madi’s right knee. At the time, doctors say that Madi won’t be at full strength for a year.

- Fast-forward about six months, and Madi is running in the 2016 state cross country meet and contending for a state title when she collapses short of the finish line. She drags herself the final 20 meters to finish in the top ten, helping her team place second.

- A year later, at the 2017 state cross country meet, Madi comes down with the flu the night before the big meet. Coach Kabourek rules her out of the race, due in large part to problems she had experienced during the year, having collapsed at the end of several meets.

For these and other reasons, the Girls & Women in Sports & Fitness committee has selected the East High junior for its Andrea Kabourek Courage Award, named in memory of Coach Brian Kabourek’s wife. It will be presented at a Wednesday night banquet at The Champions Club.

State track champ

Sandwiched between the setbacks was a highlight-reel kind of day at the 2017 state track and field meet in which she won the Class A girls 800-meter race in 2:13.22, good for the all-class gold medal. She posted a second-place finish in the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:02.48, nipped at the wire by defending champion Taylor Somers, a senior from Millard South. Somers also won the 3,200-meter race at the state meet.

Madi is hoping for a healthy track season and the opportunity to run with younger sister Jenna, an East High freshman who’s coming off a phenomenal cross country season that included a district meet championship and a third-place finish at the state meet.

“I’m really looking forward to running on some relays with her,” said big sister Madi. “She had quite a cross country season and will be a big asset for our track team.”

Medical update

In search of a good cross-training activity, the East High junior went out for the Spartans’ swimming team this winter. She hopes to put the physical setbacks behind her and enjoy a healthy track season.

“Doctors have ruled out asthma. They now say the problem might be a vocal chord dysfunction,” Madi said in a Jan. 28 phone interview.

She looks to her future, and says with a laugh: “It can only get better."

Madi says her parents, Chad and Kerri Muma, have been instrumental in their assistance and support. Chad Muma, a track jumper during his college days at UNL, has been her occasional running partner.

The Courage Award winner also thanks her coaches, saying simply: “I love my coaches.”

Coach Kabourek said Madi’s many setbacks have been, at least to some degree, her partner in the growth process of who she is as an athlete.

“In talking to her and being with her through many of these injuries and illnesses, all I can say is that she is a fighter,” said Kabourek. “She has never given up.”


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