NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. – Senior Emily Deschaine and junior Thomas Taylor continue to establish themselves as frontrunners with three meets now in the books for the 2017 Concordia University cross country squads. In Saturday’s muddy outing at the Briar Cliff Invitational, the Bulldog women placed fifth out of 13 teams and the men finished seventh amongst a field of 14 squads. More than 300 runners paced the soggy trail at Adams Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, S.D.
Concordia also took part in the Dordt College Classic (Sept. 9) and the Dean White Invite (Sept. 23) prior to Saturday. Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads entered the meet ranked fifth in the GPAC on both sides, according to the official NAIA rankings. The water logged grounds made this a much different experience.
“We got good performances,” Beisel said. “We ended up placing pretty well. The women had a phenomenal day. Almost every girl ran a personal best or a season best in spite of the mud. The girls as a whole did really well.
“On the guys’ side we also had some great performances. I think the mud and the length of the race wore some guys down at a certain point. Thomas Taylor was our No. 1 guy. If we had just been running against GPAC runners he would have been 10th. It was one of the top races of his life. Overall we’re pretty satisfied with the results.”
Deschaine, a 2016 individual national qualifier, has placed inside the top 15 of each of the first three meets this season. On the course that measured in at approximately 200 meters longer than a 5k at Adams Nature Preserve, Deschaine clocked in at 20:07.83, placing her 14th out of 162 female runners. Her 5k time was measured at 19:24. She also crossed the finish line in sixth place at the Dean White Invite and eighth at the Dordt Classic.
Next in line behind Deschaine on the women’s side were freshman Alyssa Fye (20:19.05; 21st), sophomore Rebekah Hinrichs (20:34.67; 34th), freshman Everett Elder (21:16.23; 46th) and junior Jacy Johnston (21:19.15; 50th). Eighteen females represented the Bulldogs at the meet. Concordia is still awaiting the return of junior Taylor Grove, a 2017 NAIA outdoor track and field national qualifier in the marathon. Fye and Hinrichs posted 5k times under 20 minutes while sophomore Miranda Rathjen (21:32.79; 55th) continues to make big gains.
Beisel also made special mention of Emily Boyer, a freshman from Mullen, Neb. Boyer did not run cross country during high school and dealt with surgery during her senior year of high school. Saturday marked her first ever 5k race. She registered a 5k time of 23:01 in North Sioux City. Said Beisel, “She was just so ecstatic. That was a great story.”
On the heels of 10th-place finishes at the first two meets, Taylor checked in at 19th on Saturday. He navigated the 8k distance in a time of 26:55.69 for a season best by roughly 10 seconds. The rest of the team’s top five included senior Kohlton Gabehart (27:21.10; 30th), junior Evan Asche (27:55.93; 48th) and freshmen JP Reynolds (28:00.16; 50th) and Jordan Lorenz (28:11.18; 53rd). The men’s field featured 153 runners.
Ten GPAC female and nine GPAC male institutions sent teams to the meet. On the women’s side, the Bulldogs beat out Midland, Doane, College of Saint Mary, Mount Marty and Briar Cliff. On the men’s side, Concordia outran Midland, Hastings, Briar Cliff and Mount Marty.
The Mount Marty College Invite (Oct. 21) is the only meet standing between the Bulldogs and the GPAC championships on Nov. 4. The meet hosted by Mount Marty is set to get underway at 10 a.m. CT in Yankton, S.D.
“We’re shifting our training now to more of a championship cycle,” Beisel said. “They’re feeling a lot better in practice. I think it’s really going to culminate when we want it to at the GPAC championships.”