CRETE, Neb. – As evidenced by Saturday’s action in Crete, Neb., junior Samantha Liermann is ready to take on the role of the program’s most high profile thrower. The returning shot put national champion led the way as the Concordia University track and field squads made their 2018 indoor season debuts inside the Fuhrer Fieldhouse as part of Doane’s Scott Nisely Memorial Classic.
This marks the second year that the Bulldog programs have been headed by Matt Beisel. His first season at the helm saw Concordia turn in four top 10 national finishes, including an indoor runner-up claim by the men. Though the 2017 teams were highlighted by an accomplished senior class, this season’s first meet provided plenty of positive indicators.
“We are pretty satisfied with what happened. It was kind of what we expected,” Beisel said. “You have that many freshmen and you’re standing there and everyone’s watching. They get a little jittery. Afterwards some of the athletes were like, ‘I can do better than that.’ That’s just an experience thing, but overall they had some great performances. We had three NAIA ‘A’ standard qualifiers.”
It certainly appears that Liermann is in for another big year. She took home the shot put title at the Nisely Classic with a mark of 46’ 3 ¼.” Based on the national leaderboard entering the weekend, Liermann would rank No. 1 amongst NAIA competitors. She then proved she’s more than just a shot put specialist by turning in an automatic national qualifying weight throw toss of 54’ 4 ½,” good for third place on the day.
The women’s shot put should be an area of strength all year for the Bulldogs. Adrianna Shaw, a 2017 indoor national runner up, placed right behind Liermann on Saturday with her national qualifying mark of 45’ 9 ¼.” Johanna Ragland (42’ 8 ¾”; 8th) and Jazzy Eickhoff (39’ 2 ½”; 13th) also represented Concordia in the event. Shaw also checked in with a ‘B’ standard qualifying measurement in the weight throw.
Liermann was one of three Bulldogs to pick up event titles at the Nisely Classic. The other winners were Tyrell Reichert in the pole vault (14’ 7 ¼”) and Josiah McAllister in the 1,000 meter run (2:34.90). Runner-up finishes came from Simon Brummond in the pole vault (14’ 7 ¼”), Jessica Deterding in the triple jump (35’ 11 ½”), McKenzie Gravo in the pole vault (11’ 4 ½”), Shaw in the shot put, Cody Williams in the high jump and the men’s 4x800 meter relay team (8:12.44) of McAllister, Thomas Taylor, Christian Van Cleave and Patrick Wortmann (placed fourth in the 1,000 meter run).
One newcomer with loads of potential is freshman Cody Williams (Imperial, Neb.). Williams recorded marks of 6’ 6” in the high jump (‘B’ standard) and 20’ 6 ¼” in the long jump (11th place). He also ran a leg for Concordia’s 4x400 meter relay and competed in the 60 meter hurdles. In the jumps, Williams has senior Scott Johnson to look up to. Johnson began his season by placing third in the triple jump (45’ 10 ½”) and fifth in the long jump (22’ 1”).
The program’s vaunted throws group will have a different look to it after graduating the likes of national champions Cody Boellstorff and Zach Lurz and another big point scorer in Kali Robb. While Liermann set the standard for the women on Saturday, the men were topped by sophomore JC Cornelio in the weight throw (50’ ¾”; 8th) and by freshman Jake Dack in the shot put (47’ 7 ¾”; 6th).
Seward High School alum Mika Brees put her sole focus on the 200 meter dash on Saturday. Her time of 26.68 placed her fourth in a field of 37 and represented a career best. Brees was a two-time state gold medalist during her career as a Bluejay. She was one of several Seward High products to compete at the college level for the first time.
“We would expect things to really start clicking by our Concordia Indoor Invite, which is two weekends away,” Beisel said of the team as a whole. “That gives them a week or two to get their legs back under them coming off of Christmas. We’re working them really hard right now. If they felt great today, then they didn’t work out hard enough this week. We really needed to get some work done coming off the break. We knew there was going be some fatigue and soreness. The kids still competed very well.”
The Bulldogs will now get ready to play the role of host for the first time in 2018. The Polar Dog Invite will get started at 4 p.m. CT inside the Fieldhouse this coming Friday (Jan. 19). It will be the first of three Concordia home meets during the indoor season.