Big 12 Campus Correspondent
It was a family affair for Mara Griva in Latvia. Before coming to Nebraska, Griva, the Big 12 indoor long and triple jump champion, competed and trained for her father, alongside her two sisters and brother. While many may wince at the idea of spending all that time and training each day with your family, Griva embraced the opportunity.
"I really liked it," Griva said. "I think it was good for me, it brought me to the point where I am always looking to do better and am never satisfied. There are times where I feel like it what I am doing is good, but I still need to work. I know it is not the highest point of my whole result."
Griva used the opportunity of having her dad as her coach as a time to grow, learn and become a successful athlete.
"It was really nice because he knows me the best," Griva said. "He knows what I should do and what I shouldn't do. That really helped me."
Griva recently made a name for herself a the 2011 Big 12 Indoor Track Championship as she became the first jumper to sweep the long and triple jump titles at the conference meet since fellow Latvian and Husker Ineta Radevica achieved the feat in 2004. She entered the meet ranked third in the conference in both events, but a pair of personal-best jumps were too much for the competition. She first cleared 20-10 in Friday's competition to win the long jump and then posted a 43-3 ¼ mark in the triple jump on Saturday. Nationally, both marks are tops by a freshman this season, while she ranks ninth overall in the long jump and fifth in the triple jump.
"It was definitely unexpected," Griva said. "When I went to the competition thought I needed to fight for third place. The other girls didn't do as well and I did better. "
Upon coming to Nebraska Griva had mixed feelings as to whether she made the right decision in leaving her family and country. Moving from Latvia to the Cornhusker State was a challenging and instrumental time for her.
"At first it was really exciting," Griva said. "Then over time I started to wonder if it was the right choice. I thought I was doing pretty good back home; I just began to doubt everything here a bit. I tried to do everything I need to do, but at the same time I was comparing. Then I just tried not to think about it. Looking back at it now, I think it has turned out pretty good."
Pretty good may be an understatement for an athlete who was just tabbed the Big 12 Outstanding Freshman of the Year. She is the fourth Husker woman to earn outstanding freshman honors indoors, as she joins Jenny Green (2004), Becky Breisch (2002) and Dalhia Ingram (1997).
"I really didn't expect (to receive the award)," Griva said. "I hadn't heard about it before, it was a surprise and really nice."
When choosing between the two events Griva prefers long jump solely because she has been competing in that event the longest. Whether it's long or triple jump that she is working on, her focus stays the same.
"The biggest goal I have is to just continue to do better with each season," Griva said. "If I keep getting better with my results and keeping achieving personal bests, then everything else should take care of itself and work out."