HASTINGS, Neb. – Ranked sixth in the GPAC for both men and women entering the race, the Concordia University cross country teams simply validated that rating. Paced by juniors Emily Sievert and Pat Wortmann, Concordia’s men’s and women’s teams placed sixth at Saturday morning’s GPAC championships held at Elks Country Club in Hastings, Neb.
The men finished with a total of 169 while the women finished with 153. Conference championships were claimed by the Northwestern men and Morningside women.
“Our efforts were truly great, just not enough to break into the upper echelons of the GPAC,” said first-year head coach Matt Beisel. “We are not satisfied with sixth, but we have a young team (will lose only two senior men and one senior woman), a year to work and prepare and a swiftly growing awesome recruiting class. I was truly pleased with our season and I think our teams were, too.”
Sievert clocked in at 18:20.96, allowing her to place ninth and to lock up all-conference honors, which require a top-15 finish. Her performance gives her an outside shot at earning a bid to the national championships. An official announcement will come on Sunday.
Sievert was just nine seconds off a personal best at the tail end of a week that had her on crutches due to a bone bruise in her knee. Said Beisel, “For her to accomplish what she did was extraordinary.”
Of the 20 Bulldogs to compete in Hastings, 17 ran either season or personal bests. On the men’s side, Wortmann’s time of 26:42.80 put him in 28th place out of 89 competitors in the 8K race. He narrowly beat out teammate Thomas Taylor, who finished 29th (26:42.80). The team’s top-seven runners were separated by only 56 seconds. The rest of the men’s top five included Kohlton Gabehart (36th, 27:04.93), Evan Asche (42nd, 27:19.56) and Chris Shelton (44th, 27:20.89).
The Bulldog women were slightly more spread apart with 1:45 representing the gap between Sievert and the team’s No. 5 runner. University of Nebraska-Kearney transfer Shelbi Hackbart came in next in line with a 29th-place time of 19:05.58 on the 5K course. The rest of the women’s top five was made up of Taylor Grove (31st, 19:07.69), Marti Vlasin (44th, 19:50.07) and Jacy Johnston (20:01.87).
Unless Sievert receives an invite to nationals, the Concordia cross country season has come to an end. The GPAC championships marked the fifth meet of the 2016 season for the Bulldogs.