CRETE, Neb. – Scott Johnson and Samantha Liermann delivered individual conference titles while pacing the Concordia University track and field programs at this weekend’s (Feb. 16-17) GPAC Indoor Track & Field Championships hosted by Doane. From a team perspective, the Bulldogs placed in a tie for fourth on the men’s side (71 points) and fifth on the women’s side (83 points).
Had things broke more favorably, Concordia realistically could have placed in the top three or four on both sides. The women were just two points behind fourth-place Morningside.
“It was just kind of up and down,” said head coach Matt Beisel. “You can’t put us not getting third or whatever on any one person. With a team with as many moving parts as we have, if you have four or five people one point short of their projection, all of the sudden you’re in fourth or fifth instead of second or third. It shows me that we have a lot of work to do.”
Liermann came into the meet with the expectation of capturing a championship, but that wasn’t necessarily the case for Johnson, who was seeded behind a pair of Doane athletes in the triple jump. The event produced a great deal of tension with Johnson falling from first to third on the final set of jumps. On that final jump, Johnson leapfrogged both De’Andre Miller and Henry Arnold for the title. The winning mark checked in at 47’ 2 ½,” representing a personal best.
While some things may not have gone as planned, it seems Beisel and his staff can always count on their group of women in the shot put. Liermann notched her second career GPAC shot put title by throwing 48 feet. Concordia went 1-3-5-7 in the event with teammates Adrianna Shaw (46’ ½”), Johanna Ragland (44’ 6”) and Jodi Fry (43’ ¼”) coming in after Liermann. More than a quarter of the women’s team points came from this event alone.
In the men’s heptathlon, the present and the future is promising for freshmen Cody Williams and Blake Becher. Williams placed third with 4,667 points, just ahead of fourth-place Becher (4,560). Williams and Becher are now listed ninth and 16th, respectively, on the national leaderboard in the heptathlon.
Several Bulldogs placed in all-conference territory (top eight) in multiple events, including Liermann (shot put, weight throw) and Johnson (triple jump, long jump). Jessica Deterding, who has a shot to go to nationals as a multi-event athlete, placed fourth in the pentathlon and sixth in the triple jump. On the track, Josiah McAllister (third in the mile, seventh in the 1,000 meters) and Mika Brees (fifth in the 60 and 200 meter races) were two of the brightest standouts.
Of course there were some frustrations. Two-time GPAC pole vault champion McKenzie Gravo came into the meet as a favorite, but no-heighted on Saturday. In the 60-meter hurdles, Ben Hulett made the finals but false started and did not earn any points. Though Gravo missed the mark in the pole vault, the event yielded three Concordia all-conference performances on the men’s side and two on the women’s side.
Nothing comes easy in the throwing events in the GPAC. The lone Bulldog all-conference thrower on the men’s side was Jacob Cornelio, who finished sixth in the weight throw.
Both women’s relay teams (4x4 and 4x8) clocked in fourth. Other not previously mentioned top-four placements were claimed by the men’s 4x800 meter relay (second), Leah Larson (fourth in the triple jump) and Thomas Taylor (fourth in the 800 meters).
For the athletes who have qualified, the focus now shifts to the NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships, held in Pittsburg, Kan., March 1-3. More details on the national meet can be found HERE.
Said Beisel, “Our kids need to continue to grow and we need to continue to mentor and coach them and help them get there. It wasn’t the meet that we hoped for, but we have to have the attitude that we’ll do better at the outdoor conference championships.”