Andra (Wilhite) Lahner is the first woman inducted into the Grizzly Athletic Hall of Fame.
Lahner was a track and field star during 1987-88 and 1988-89 school years at Butler.
“I was a little surprised, but I’m more honored,” Lahner said. “To be recognized and be inducted into the hall of fame of a college you went to, it’s an honor. It’s an honor and a validation.”
She had been a state champion in high school, winning the 300 hurdles as a freshman. As a senior, she won the 300 hurdles again, was a part of the winning 4x400-meter relay and set the state record (five feet, 5.5 inches) in the high jump. Those 30 points helped Douglass tie for the 3A state title.
That performance also gave Lahner her choice of colleges. She turned down track and field scholarships from larger schools, such as Wichita State and Pittsburg State, to attend Butler.
“Butler offered me the best deal,” she said. “My grandparents lived in town, and it was a good transition from a small high school to a small college and it prepared me to step into a big university.”
At Butler, she competed in numerous events, including the 400 meter hurdles, the 100 meter hurdles and high jump, as well as the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. She also competed in the heptathlon. That is made up of seven events: the high jump, long jump, shot put, javelin, 100 hurdles, and the open 200 and 800 meter runs.
“When you are a jack of all trades, but master of none, that’s how you end up being a heptathlete,” Lahner said.
After Butler, Lahner ran track and attended the University of Texas-Arlington for one year and finished her schooling at Texas Women’s University.
Lahner worked for Ford Credit for 10 years, where she gained her first exposure to management.
She then took a position with Sprint’s leadership development program, and has worked for the Kansas City-based company for the past four years.
Along the way, Lahner was in the Navy reserves for more than 10 years and married Pete Lahner. The couple had their first children in July – twins named Morgan and Vienna.
Lahner’s competitive fire didn’t die down after college. For a while, she took up competitive bodybuilding. Then in 1996, she started doing obstacle course competitions in California and Florida.
“I was still living the life of being an athlete,” Lahner said. “I missed track and field, but it’s not as easily accessible as those other sports were.”
Lahner continued to train as long as she was able through her pregnancy. Now she is back to her training and plans to participate in an obstacle course competition in July in Las Vegas.