Pair of former Mavericks take on Tokyo


Jordan McAlpine

Mike Rostampour spent two seasons with the Omaha men’s basketball program. He is now the fourth Maverick to qualify for the Olympics. Rostampour and Maja Mihalinec Zidar have both been competing in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

As sports fans turned their television to NBC and other networks to watch Olympic coverage this year, there might have been a pair of faces that looked all too familiar. Whether you saw them walking around campus or competing in an Omaha uniform, two former Maverick athletes have been competing for their country in Tokyo—Maja Mihalinec Zidar and Mike Rostampour.

Mihalinec Zidar was a member of the Maverick track and field program from 2008-13. During her time in Omaha, she set personal-best times in both the 100-meter (11.71) and 200-meter dash (24.09).

Competing in Tokyo is just the latest accolade on her resume since she’s left UNO. Mihalinec Zidar was named the Female Athlete of the Year by the Athletic Federation of Slovenia in 2015 and the Slovenian Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2019.

It’s a continuation of her successful national career. Prior to coming to UNO, she was the Slovenia national junior record holder for both the 60m and 100m. She was also the national indoor champion in the 60m in 2007.

Mihalinec Zidar ran in both the 100m and 200m. She placed fifth and fourth respectively in those races. This was her second Olympic appearance, as she also competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She represented Slovenia in both.

As for Rostampour, the six-foot-eight forward played men’s basketball for the Iranian National Team in Tokyo. He scored two points and added four rebounds over the first two games. However, he did not play in Iran’s third game against France. This was his first Olympic appearance.

Rostampour transferred to Omaha after spending his first two years of NCAA basketball at the junior college ranks. He started all but one game as a junior while averaging 9.2 points and 7.5 rebounds a game with the Mavericks.

His best showing as a Maverick came in the first round of the College Insider Tournament against North Dakota. Rostampour scored 16 points and had a career-high 21 rebounds, which tied the CIT single-game record. During the 2014 postseason, he led the nation with an average of 16.5 rebounds per game.

As a senior, he was named the All-Summit League honorable mention. He raised that average to 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while also leading the conference in offensive rebounds and was second in total rebounds per game.