CRETE, Neb. – McKenzie Gravo and Samantha Liermann turned in event titles while leading the nationally-ranked Concordia University track and field programs at the Fred Beile Classic hosted by Doane on Saturday (Feb. 3). Among the highlights, senior Ben Hulett recorded a personal best ‘B’ standard qualifying time in the 60-meter hurdles and freshman Kara Stark achieved a ‘B’ mark in the high jump.
Second-year head coach Matt Beisel’s squads were mostly concentrated at the Fuhrer Field House. Hulett (60 hurdles), Josiah McAllister (one mile), Jake Rodgers (400 meters) and Thomas Taylor (800 meters) also took to the track at this weekend’s Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational.
“We had an overall good meet,” Beisel said. “In some event areas there were fantastic performances. We weren’t across-the-board great like we were last week. That could be for any number of reasons. If there’s any week not to be firing on all cylinders, it’s a couple weeks out from conference. We come back home next week with the home crowd and that’s going to be a really good venue for us to perform well.”
A native of Gary, Ind., Hulett appears to stand a strong chance of making a return to nationals in the hurdles. Although his time of 8.32 at Doane put him just shy of the automatic standard (8.27), he would rank in the top 10 nationally based on the NAIA leaderboard entering Saturday. Hulett finished second at the Beile Classic following a 15th-place finish (8.41) at the Bob Devaney Sports Complex.
In the women’s shot put, Liermann continues to compete like a national title contender each week. In her latest outing, she bested the field of 18 throwers with a season best mark of 46’ 11 ½,” placing her just in front of teammate Adrianna Shaw (46’ ¾”), the reigning GPAC field athlete of the week. Teammate Johanna Ragland (44’ 10 ¼”) also checked in at No. 6 in the event.
First-place finishes are also nothing new for Gravo, who vaulted 12’ ½” at the Beile Classic. She came into the weekend ranked third nationally in the pole vault, an event in which freshman Anna Baack has also qualified for nationals.
Stark, also a member of the volleyball team, leapt a PR of 5’ 5,” exactly equaling the threshold for a ‘B’ mark in the event. Stark’s contribution helps bolster the résumé of a women’s team that garnered a No. 9 national ranking this week. Collectively, the Concordia women have put up eight automatic national qualifying marks and another four ‘B’ standard marks.
McAllister continues to shine as one of the top runners in the program. He came up with a time of 4:21.58 on the banked track at the Husker Invite. With the conversion, McAllister’s time will come up shy of the ‘B’ standard of 4:22. Also in Lincoln, Taylor completed the 800-meter race in 1:57.93, an indoor personal best (19th place).
Next week’s Concordia Indoor Invitational (Feb. 10) will serve as the final tune up prior to the GPAC indoor championships, set to take place Feb. 16-17 at Doane. The Concordia Invite will mark the third home meet of 2018 for the Bulldogs.
“I’m real proud of our kids,” Beisel said. “I think we’ve got bigger things to do. Overall, it was a good meet but definitely signs that we have some higher marks to hit going into the next two weeks.”