CRETE, Neb. – Making their second official appearances of the 2017 season, the Concordia University cross country teams turned in place finishes of third on the women’s side and fifth on the men’s side at Saturday morning’s Deane White Invitational hosted by Doane. The Bulldogs were paced by senior Emily Deschaine and Thomas Taylor at a meet made up of mostly GPAC squads that galloped through sultry conditions.
Second-year head coach Matt Beisel guides teams that were ranked third (men) and sixth (women), respectively, in the latest official GPAC rankings. Though pleased with Saturday’s efforts, Beisel still believes the best is yet to come.
“I felt like the women exceeded expectations,” Beisel said. “I was hoping for a top five finish and they got third. Considering the only two teams to finish ahead of us are nationally ranked, it’s a huge boost for us. We’re very happy about it. The course at Doane is the slowest course we’ll run on all season. I told my kids not to worry about times. It’s about how you compete.
“On the guys’ side, we were hoping for something better. We wanted to be closer to the top three. The way teams were spaced out, we just got edged out on points. I thought the guys might be a little down about it but they just looked at me and said, ‘We’ve got this.’”
Concordia will count on Deschaine to play a starring role all season. She finished sixth out of 131 runners by clocking in at 19:56.22 on the 5k course. There’s plenty of potential in the group that followed Deschaine. Two freshmen came in next: Alyssa Fye (20:51:03) and Everett Elder (21:10.26), both top 25 overall finishers. Sophomore Rebekah Hinrichs (21:11.00) was close behind while improving her time by more than a minute, as compared to what she ran on the same course as a freshman. Lydia Cook (21:36.39) and Miranda Rathjen (21:36.69) ran neck-and-neck for the fifth and sixth positions on the team.
Taylor, a junior from Papillion, Neb., turned in a 10th place finish, reaching the end of his 8k race in a time of 28:16.40. Experience won out at the top for the Bulldogs. Junior Evan Asche placed 15th and clocked in at 28:38.06 and senior Pat Wortmann claimed 20th by finishing in 28:46.31. The team’s top five was rounded out by senior Kohlton Gabehart (29:28.82) and freshman Jordan Lorenz (29:31.52). Lorenz was one of nine freshmen to represent Concordia on the men’s side.
The Bulldogs will have another layoff before hitting the course at Adams Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, Iowa, on Oct. 7 for the Briar Cliff Invite. The meet will be one of two more before the GPAC championships take place on Nov. 4. Beisel is positioning his runners to be at their best when it matters the most.
“One of the things I explained to my team the other day is we just finished the most physically and mentally challenging phase of our training season,” Beisel said. “We put a lot of hard work in that will result in us being much better as we move into the next weeks. We’re going to work the system of our bodies and different ways and they’re going to suddenly find that they’ve got legs and ability to push.”