GULF SHORES, Ala. – A pair of eighth-place finishes in the hammer throw allowed both Concordia University track and field programs to put a point on the board as part of the opening day of the 2018 NAIA Track & Field National Championships. The latest All-American Bulldogs, Jacob Cornelio and Johanna Ragland, were two of 14 athletes who represented Concordia in Thursday (May 24)’s action at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala.
While Cornelio and Ragland ensured that the Bulldogs would not leave Alabama without some hardware, multi-event athletes Blake Becher, Jessica Deterding, Kennedy Mogul and Cody Williams jockeyed for positioning in hopes of tasting All-American glory on Friday. In sum, Thursday yielded some good and some bad.
Said head coach Matt Beisel, “I’m super proud of our two throwers who were All-Americans. We had a 4x8 guys team that came in and ran the race of their life. They ran a phenomenal race and just barely missed getting into finals. Some of the splits they ran were amazing, especially Josiah (McAllister) and Thomas (Taylor). Also really proud of our multi-event athletes.
“I know there was some disappointment in the girls’ hammer. We came in ranked pretty high and came away with one point. The girls are probably pretty hard on themselves right now, but it just didn’t happen. Now we just have to do it in other ways. We have two more days to get it done.”
Beisel and his staff had hoped for better point scoring in the women’s hammer throw, an event that featured Ragland and four of her teammates. Ragland and Samantha Liermann (ninth place) reached the finals. However, Adrianna Shaw (12th), Carley Skorepa (15th) and Madison Holt (17th) fell short. Ragland actually turned in the same mark of 168’ 2” achieved by Liermann. Ragland was awarded eighth place based on the tiebreaker (second best throw).
A native of Rocky River, Ohio, Ragland is following in the footsteps of her father John, who was also an All-American thrower at Concordia.
“It was a lot of hard work this season,” Ragland said. “It didn’t start off so great but then I kind of got my stuff together and good things just started happening. You really just have to trust the process.”
His second throw of the day proved to be his best. Cornelio let it fly a distance of 187’ 1,” sewing up his second career All-America award in the midst of his third appearance at a national championship meet. A native of Elk Grove, Calif., Cornelio is carrying the mantle for the men’s throws group at this weekend’s meet. He will also compete in the discus on Friday. Cornelio continues to get better as his experience grows.
“Tremendously,” responded Cornelio when asked how advantageous it is to have been on this stage before. “Last year did not go great. It took over my PR just to make it to finals. It was another competition with Cody (Boellstorff), (Zach) Lurz and Phil (Kreutzer) and all the guys we had last year. Having that experience translated into (more success) this year. I was able to compete and keep clear headed.”
Williams (seventh; 3,365 points) and Becher (ninth, 3,332) are both within range of earning All-America honors with five events completed in the decathlon. Williams won the high jump by clearing nearly two meters. Meanwhile, Becher placed third in both the 100 meters and the shot put. Deterding (14th; 2,542 points) and Mogul (15th; 2,447 points) will need big efforts on Friday in order to put themselves on the podium.
The day wrapped up for Concordia with the men’s 4x800 meter relay. The quartet of Christian Van Cleave, Thomas Taylor, Nathan Matters and Josiah McAllister made a valiant push for a spot in the finals. They clocked a season best of 7:37.74 (previous best was 7:45.84) and placed 10th out of 22 relay teams at the meet. The group entered the meet ranked 19th on the national list.
An early afternoon storm adjusted the schedule only slightly. The delay lasted for about one hour and 20 minutes. The heptathlon shot put was contested despite a pit that was flooded with rain water.
Fourteen Bulldogs will be in action on the second day of the national championships. Liermann will take aim at her third career shot put national title when the competition begins at 1 p.m. on Friday. The first Concordia athletes to take the stage will be multi-event performers beginning at 10 a.m. Live results can be followed HERE. Stretch Internet, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the events on www.NAIANetwork.com. A subscription package to view the entire three-day event is $19.95. For more information, including how to register and sign-up for an account, CLICK HERE. Also keep up with the meet by following @cunebulldogs on Twitter.
Bulldogs competing on Friday at national championships
10 a.m. – Decathlon (Blake Becher, Cody Williams)
10:30 a.m. – Heptathlon (Jessica Deterding, Kennedy Mogul)
1 p.m. – Women’s shot put (Samantha Liermann, Johanna Ragland, Adrianna Shaw)
1 p.m. – Men’s long jump (Scott Johnson)
5 p.m. – Men’s discus (Jacob Cornelio)
5:30 p.m. – Women’s triple jump (Jessica Deterding, Leah Larson)
7:45 p.m. – Women’s 4x400 meter relay prelims