Nancy Holovnia is a former NDSU Bison track and field star and now works for REM and MENTOR Network
Cross Country

Double Checking the Record Book with Nancy Holovnia

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Not many distance records were left standing after NDSU’s Erin Teschuk concluded her career at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championship meet. The seven- time first team All-American broke eight Bison running records in cross-country and track and field during her illustrious career. The only survivor from the Teschuk wave is Nancy (Dietman) Holovnia. But there are two caveats to the survival of her 3,000-meter and 10,000-meter records.

The outdoor 3,000-meter is no longer a recognized event by the Summit League or NCAA. The 10,000-meter is still run to this day, but Teschuk never participated. The only student-athlete to come close to Holovnia’s 10K record was Brecca Wahlund when she won the 2013 Summit League title with a time of 35:35.27, 23 seconds slower than Holovnia.


“I never keep track of it,” said Holovnia. When her two records are reported back to her, she can’t help but sarcastically “oo” and “ahh.” Although she’s proud of Teschuk’s accomplishments, she could care less that her name remains in the NDSU record book. “Not that I didn’t appreciate the awards and things I got. To me, there’s a place in life for everything. If I was still living my glory days then that wouldn’t be good. I’ve really moved on from those days.”

Fitness is still at the core of who Holovnia is today. Whether it’s her weekly runs with her cousin, who also went to NDSU, or biking centuries with the Twin Cities Bike Club, Holovnia estimates she gets active at least five days out of the week.


“I wanted to make sure I could run until I was old and gray, so I cross train,” Holovnia said. “I’m looking into thinking like, ‘How can I serve my neighbor, get exercise and be outside?’ So I signed up for the Habitat 500, which is a bike ride in July. I’m going to go Wednesday through Saturday, and I think it’s 300 miles.”

The 1985 NCAA 3,000-meter indoor champion still finds joy in her running. Now living in Plymouth, Minn. with three children out of the house, she’s found more time to feed her active lifestyle, which in turn gives her a boost professionally.

“I just read something yesterday. If you reduce your goal, you diminish your effort,” Holovnia said. “I’ve been told that my standards at work are up here (raises hand). If you look at that, your performance is going to possibly be a little less from the rest of your staff. But if your standard is here (lowers hand), it’s probably going to be a little less than that. If you look at it from that perspective, and I’ll be the first to say, I hold myself to the top standard.”

Holovnia is a director of information services, which she admits sounds dated. Holovnia works at REM MN, Inc., in Edina, Minn. She just celebrated her 25th anniversary.

REM was purchased by the MENTOR Network in 2003 and now expands over 36 states. The MENTOR Network’s mission is to provide services to adults and children with developmental disabilities or acquired brain injuries, children with emotional, behavioral and medical complexities and elders in need of home care. Holovnia manages a team of 10 in the regional office to offer billing assistance to individuals that are served through REM.

“I don’t directly serve them in the program or operation side and I really respect the work that the people who do do that,” Holovnia explains. “But from a financial side of it, we try to make sure that the individuals get the funding they’re supposed to be receiving to pay the bills so that they can be taken care of financially, as well as programmatically. I take pride in that and understanding all the state and federal and local policies.”

Holovnia ran the Twin Cities marathon after having the second of her three children in 1991. She ran it in three hours on her first attempt. To put this amazing feat in perspective, 1,490 people ran the Fargo Marathon this spring, only 17 finished under three hours.


A pro running career never crossed the mind of the eight-time All- American Holovnia. After her career at NDSU, she got engaged and moved to St. Could, Minn., with her husband in 1987.

Holovnia has three children who are all over the U.S. and she would rather talk about them than her track and field career at NDSU. Her oldest is Amanda, who lives in Minneapolis. Kayla lives in Hawaii and Andrew, a University of Minnesota graduate is pursuing a dental career at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Holovnia spent the first half of her summer traveling to Hawaii and Florida to see her kids. In July, she’ll attempt to ride 300 miles in four days and continue to reach out to her community any way she can. Once the track season begins, her records will be the least of her worries. She did offer a piece of insight into how anyone could beat her 10K record that’s still within grasp at NDSU. And it’s not about how to properly fuel before races or how many miles you run in training.

“I think it’s what’s inside a person that drives them. Someone can have the ultimate nutrition, the ultimate workout, but if they don’t have the heart to win, they’re not going to win,” Holovnia said. “I can’t imagine my record will stay for too long.”

Double Checking the Record Book with Nancy Holovnia
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