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Indoor track photo

Members of the University of Mary indoor track team are photographed with the women's team's fourth-place trophy on Saturday in Pittsburg, Kan. It was the best finish at the NCAA Division II national indoor meet in program history.

For 12-time NCAA All-American Lexi Zeis, it's not about the individual accolades. Far from it, in fact.

The University of Mary star distance runner said the fourth-place team trophy the Marauders brought back to Bismarck -- best in school history -- was as special as anything she did on her own.

"If people ask me about it the things I like to talk about are the trips I get to go on, the amazing memories with my friends and the types of stories that are behind all these great things that have happened," said Zeis, a Bismarck High grad. "There is an individual aspect to it, of course, but it's so much more enjoyable when you can enjoy it with your teammates. Those types of things are what you'll remember forever. I really believe that."

Zeis's individual achievements will stand the test of time as well.

Last weekend in Pittsburg, Kan., she further cemented her legacy in Marauder lore. On Friday, Zeis won the 5,000-meter run for the second year in a row and her third individual national championship. Then on Saturday she finished second in the 3K, missing the sweep by just 26-hundredths of a second.

"It's something I didn't see myself as being able to do," Zeis said, reflecting on her 12 All-American awards. "It's a combination of many things. I have worked really hard, just like my teammates. You need the right coach. I've been fortunate to have great coaching, great leadership and a program where we set high goals individually and for our team."

Zeis recounted with great detail what it took for the Marauders to finish fourth.

"We came into the meet 11th and our goal was to have the best finish (U-Mary) has had. After the first day we had 15 points, which was huge and we still had TP (Tonie-Ann Pandohie) in the 60 hurdles, me in the 3K and the 4x4 relay," Zeis said. "Like coach (Dennis) Newell says, we went out and made some Marauder magic happen."

Pandohie finished sixth overall in the 60 hurdles, earning All-American honors. Zeis, of course delivered, and the 4x4 relay team of Abbey Zastrow, Julia Hammerschmidt, Nicolyn Brown and Pandohie placed fourth. Zastrow, a freshman, was called to fill in after Nelecia Brown was forced to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.

It was the second Marauder relay to earn All-American honors at nationals. One day earlier, Zastrow, Bree Erickson, Jaiden Schuette and Taylor Hestekin combined to place fourth in the Distance Medley Relay.

"We placed fourth as a team because we all did our jobs. That's what made it so special," said Zeis. "When you're up there with those high-end teams, it takes a pretty incredible effort."

Zeis, a senior, took a couple of days off for physical and mental recovery but is already targeting her final outdoor season in the, "10 and 5" as she called it.

"At the end of the meet when you see us up there with West Texas A&M and Western Colorado State and Adams State and Pittsburg State, I was having a little panic attack because I never would have imagined in indoor track we would have had enough people to be up that high," Zeis said. "But yeah, wow, there we were. It was pretty incredible and what an amazing experience for our team."

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Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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Sports Editor