CRETE, Neb. – While competing for the second Saturday in a row Concordia University cross country teams went to nearby Doane and claimed top five finishes at the Dean White Invitational (Sept. 22). The Bulldog men placed third (112 points) out of 11 teams while the women finished fifth (107 points) out of 15 squads in the field.
The Dean White Invite marked the third official meet of the 2018 season for third-year head coach Matt Beisel’s squads. The Concordia men claimed a meet championship at last week’s Bronco Stampede in Hastings.
“Both teams put into practice what we worked on, which was staying together as a group, as long as possible and competing,” Beisel said. “That’s really what it’s been about this season. Our guys placed third solidly and were only 14 points away from Northwestern. It’s a great feeling to know that we didn’t run as well as we will down the road, but we had some solid races today. We need to bring our top six or seven closer together in order to make some significant breakthroughs.
“On the girls’ side it was a great effort. We were only three points away from beating Morningside (fourth place). Those are some of the most relevant teams in the conference. I’m excited about the next two weeks of training and what that’s going to bring.”
The only teams to defeat the Bulldog men were 19th-ranked Dordt and Northwestern, a team receiving votes in this week’s NAIA national poll. Concordia knocked off conference rivals Morningside (fifth), Doane (seventh), Hastings (eighth) and Mount Marty (11th). This was another indicator of the program’s improvement since it placed sixth at the 2017 GPAC championships.
For the second meet in a row, senior Josiah McAllister paced the men’s team. He placed 12th, navigating the 8k course in 27:11.55. Fellow senior Taylor Thomas jumped in line next, clocking in at 27:43.89 (20th). The team’s top seven also featured freshman Wyatt Lehr (27:48.05; 21st), sophomores Christian Van Cleave (28:02.15; 29th) and Jordan Lorenz (28:39.82; 38th), senior Evan Asche (28:56.37; 48th) and freshman Ethan Pankow (29:14.87; 54th).
Meanwhile, the Concordia women defeated four GPAC foes: Dakota Wesleyan (seventh), Doane (eighth), Mount Marty (11th) and College of Saint Mary (12th). While finishing fifth among GPAC competition, the Bulldogs slotted in at the exact same spot they appeared in this week’s official conference ratings.
Senior Taylor Grove continues to lead the pack on the women’s side. She finished ninth in a time of 19:52.40 on the 5k course. Grove has been the team’s top runner at each of the first three meets this season. The rest of the top seven for the Bulldogs included junior Rebekah Hinrichs (20:10.76; 15th), freshman Abi DeLoach (20:11.11; 16th), junior Hannah Rebmann (20:52.24; 30th), sophomores Lydia Cook (21:08.72; 40th) and Alyssa Bierwagen (21:21.50; 47th) and senior Jacy Johnston (21:28.27; 53rd). It marked the first race as a Bulldog for Rebmann, who transferred from NCAA Division II Pittsburg State University (Kan.).
Both Concordia teams now have an idea of where they stand as compared to their GPAC rivals.
“I think our guys have a chance to be a top-three team in the conference,” Beisel said. “It’s going to take something special with their individual efforts and with the team synergy to make that happen over the next few weeks. I think our girls have a chance to be a top-four team and maybe even a top-three team if they continue to improve and gain confidence.”
The Bulldogs will have next weekend off before getting back to meet action on Saturday, Oct. 6 when they compete at the Briar Cliff Invite. The event is set to get underway at 10 a.m. CT from Adams Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, S.D.