Winter sports wrap up
Winter sports highlights
TOP MOMENT: Women’s 4x800 meter relay team overcomes fall to garner All-America status
The Concordia women’s 4x800 meter relay team of Jena Schwalenberg, Jenean Williams, Megan Letts and Kim Wood emerged as perhaps the most inspiring story of the 2013 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. The group survived a fall on the first leg of its preliminary race to win the heat and eventually finish fourth in the finals, placing in All-America territory. For a more detailed account of this story, and to see video of the races at nationals, click HERE.
Track and field earns 16 All-America performances at indoor nationals
A total of 15 individuals combined for 16 All-America performances at the indoor national championships for Concordia. The bulk of these individuals came from the Bulldogs’ three All-American relay teams, including the women’s 4x800 meter relay and the men’s 4x400 and 4x800 meter relay quartets. Senior Jena Schwalenberg earned All-America honors as part of the 4x800 meter relay and also in the one mile run. Stephanie Coley (shot put), Jamie Crouse (weight throw) and Brittany Erdmann (shot put) were the other individual All-Americans for Concordia. The complete list can be viewed HERE.
Women’s basketball advances to national tournament for fifth time in six years
Concordia women’s basketball continued its run as an elite program on the national level by advancing to the national tournament for the fifth time in the last six years and for the 12th time in program history. Head coach Drew Olson has appeared at the national tournament more times than any other coach in the history of Bulldog women’s basketball.
Conahan and Rich reach 1,000 career points scored
Senior Katie Rich and junior Kristen Conahan both surpassed the 1,000 career point mark during the 2012-13 season. Rich accomplished the feat on Nov. 6 with 11 points in a win over College of Saint Mary. Conahan flew by 1,000 career points with a career best 31 points in a victory over Midland on Nov. 27. Conahan will enter her senior season with 1,374 points. Rich ends her Bulldog career with 1,293 points in 124 games. They rank 10th and 13th, respectively, in school history in career points.
Porter Birtell finishes career with fourth-straight all-conference mention
Senior Porter Birtell endured a frustrating senior season due to nagging injuries that played a role in Concordia’s 6-22 finish. However, Birtell managed to average a team best 13.6 points per game while adding 5.2 rebounds in 20 contests. His season was cut short when he suffered a concussion at Doane on Jan. 23. His honorable mention recognition this season marked the fourth-straight all-conference mention. The Madison, Neb., native was tabbed a first team all-conference choice as a junior, honorable mention as a sophomore and was a second team pick as a freshman. He finishes his career with 1,390 points and 712 rebounds in 101 games in a Bulldog uniform. He averaged 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds and shot 61.8 percent from the field for his four-year career.
Limback named head men’s basketball coach
Ben Limback, a 1999 Concordia graduate, was officially announced as head men’s basketball coach on March 12. He served as head coach at Concordia-Ann Arbor from 2003-12 and holds the Cardinals’ school record for men’s basketball coaching victories with 115. He garnered Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Coach of the Year accolades in 2007. To read more about Limback, click HERE.
2012-13 record: 6-22, 2-18 GPAC (11th)
Top performer: Senior wing Beau Smith served as Concordia’s most dependable player throughout the balance of a difficult 2012-13 season. He averaged 12.9 points and a team high 6.1 rebounds per game on the way to earning honorable mention all-conference for the second-straight season. The McKinney, Texas, native shot 46.0 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from beyond the arc and 71.1 percent from the free throw line. Smith put up 648 points and 333 rebounds in 54 games over two seasons as a Bulldog since transferring from College of the Sequoias.
Season highlights: Wins were tough to come by in 2012-13 as the Bulldogs battled through a coaching change just weeks before the start of the season and then a number of injuries to key players. Despite the difficult circumstances, Concordia often played competitively against a conference loaded with talent. The Bulldogs defeated Concordia-Chicago at the Concordia Invitational Tournament and came within an eyelash of knocking off Concordia-Wisconsin in the championship game. Several young players like freshmen Robby Thomas and Max Wegener gained valuable experience during the transition year. With Concordia alum Ben Limback in place as head coach for 2013-14 and beyond, the Bulldogs expect to get back to their winning ways in the near future.
GPAC All-Conference: Porter Birtell (honorable mention); Beau Smith (honorable mention).
Thoughts from Coach Marty Kohlwey: The 2012-13 season was eventful. First, a coaching change and then a fast start going 5 -1. From there we experienced one injury after another and struggled to find a way to win. The players continued to fight and found a way to compete at a high level despite the multiple starters that were out of the lineup. We are excited about the 2013-14 season. The coaching staff will be complete and we will have a good recruiting class to add to the underclassmen that were able to get valuable playing time this year due to the injuries.
2012-13 record: 25-7, 16-4 GPAC (2nd)
Top performer: Concordia got great seasons from several players in 2012-13, most notably senior Katie Rich (10.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), junior Kristen Conahan (15.8 ppg, 3.25 spg) and sophomore Bailey Morris (14.6 ppg, 3.25 (spg). Rich earned GPAC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second-straight season in addition to being placed on the GPAC’s first team along with Conahan. Morris, who enjoyed a breakout season, moved up from honorable mention as a freshman to second team all-conference in 2012-13. Rich ends her career as one of the most accomplished players in program history, while Conahan and Morris will return next season to form the nucleus of another potent backcourt.
Season highlights: While the Bulldogs were disappointed with the first-round national tournament loss to Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), they still managed to win at least 25 games for the eighth time in the last 12 seasons. Concordia won its first 15 games of the season, marking the second best start in program history behind the 33-0 run made by the 2002-03 squad that finished 36-2. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad also perched itself atop the GPAC for much of the season before finishing second. The Bulldogs defeated conference champion Morningside twice while also notching big wins at home over Northwestern and on the road against Briar Cliff. Concordia was ranked No. 1 for the first four polls of the season and checked in at No. 9 in the final poll, once again positioning itself among the nation’s elite NAIA Division II programs.
All-Americans: Kristen Conahan (first team); Katie Rich (honorable mention)
GPAC All-Conference: Kristen Conahan (first team); Katie Rich (first team/Defensive Player of the Year); Bailey Morris (second team); Lori Laboda (honorable mention); Tracy Peitz (honorable mention).
Thoughts from Coach Drew Olson: This was another great season for the women’s basketball program. We had a high expectations going in, but I thought our team handled that well. Despite not reaching the ultimate goal of a national title, I am proud of our team. Twenty-five wins and another trip to nationals continues the legacy of this program. I am extremely proud of what our seniors accomplished this season and in their careers. Katie Rich, Beth Kohmetscher and Dawn Martin will be missed for sure. I am excited about the future of this team. With first team All-American Kristen Conahan and second team All-GPAC Bailey Morris returning, along with other key contributors like Tracy Peitz, Lori Laboda, Jericca Pearson and Kelsey Hizer, I know we will continue to be successful. I think we are adding some solid players to the program next season that will add to what we are doing.
Indoor Track and Field
Men’s finishes: 3rd at GPAC Championships; 27th at NAIA National Championships
Women’s finishes: 4th at GPAC Championships; 13th at NAIA National Championships
Top performers: The Bulldogs put forth 16 All-America performances at the National Championships in Geneva, Ohio. Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s squad also captured GPAC championships in six separate events. On the men’s side, Colin Morrissey led the way with three automatic national qualifying times throughout the indoor season. He fell just short of All-America honors in the 3,000 meter run. The Bulldog men had especially strong 4x400 and 4x800 meter relay teams – both were All-Americans. On the women’s side, junior Jamie Crouse shined throughout the season in the weight throw and finished third in the event at nationals. Senior Jena Schwalenberg was the only Bulldog to earn All-America status in more than one event.
Season highlights: There was no bigger highlight than the perseverance shown by the Concordia women’s 4x800 meter relay team at the national championships (one of the winter sports highlights above). The quartet rallied from a fall on the first leg of the preliminary race to earn All-America honors and emerge as perhaps the best story at the national championships. Jamie Crouse came up just short of winning a national title in the weight throw after leading the event most of the way. She is now a three-time All-American at Concordia. The consistent improvement of junior Andrew Malan also stuck out as a pleasant surprise for Einspahr. Malan was part of the All-America 4x800 meter relay team. Senior Colin Morrissey’s excellence across multiple events served as yet another season highlight.
All Americans: Jonathon Becker (4x400 meter relay); John Cartier (4x400 meter relay); Stephanie Coley (shot put); Jamie Crouse (weight throw); Brittany Erdmann (shot put); Benjamin Hinckfoot – 4x400 meter relay; Jared Hoffman (4x800 meter relay); Megan Letts (4x800 meter relay); Andrew Malan (4x800 meter relay); Taiheem Pleasant (4x400 meter relay); Adam Prahlow (4x800 meter relay); Jena Schwalenberg (one mile, 4x800 meter relay); Ben Sievert (4x800 meter relay); Jenean Williams (4x800 meter relay); Kim Wood (4x800 meter relay).
GPAC All-Conference: See complete list HERE.
Thoughts from Coach Kregg Einspahr: I thought we had a very good indoor season. We had some great individual performances. I think the highlight really was at the GPAC Championships where we had a number of individual champions. It makes a difference when you can finish the meet out winning that 4x4 like our men did in an exciting race. It gives everybody a good feeling to finish out the season. And then at the national championships I thought we had some tremendous performances, particularly from our relays and came away with 16 All-Americans. Jamie Crouse got third place in the weight throw. That was just a great effort on her part. That women’s 4x8 having such an incredible race in the prelims, having fallen behind and then to catch up – that will be a memory that will stand out probably for the rest of my career. Then the men’s 4x4 set the school record and finished in the top five at the national meet. (As for expectations for the outdoor season): We would like to finish better as a team from our indoor finishes of third on the men’s side and fourth on the men’s side. Although that’s a good performance in this conference, we have higher expectations than that. We’d like to improve and we think we can.
2012-13 dual record: 2-10, 1-5 GPAC (T-6th)
Top performer: While senior Brandon Starkey missed out on qualifying for the national championships for the fourth-straight time, he was the Bulldogs’ most consistent performer throughout the season. He posted the top record (18-16) on the team and completes his career as the program’s record holder in several major statistics. He owns school records for victories (71), matches wrestled (131) and tournament place finishes (12). Win No. 71 came over his brother Austin at the North Qualifying Group Tournament in Fremont, Neb. His biggest win of the season came when he upset Northwestern’s No. 7-ranked Zach Fishman at 165 pounds to key a dual victory over the Red Raiders.
Season highlights: The dual victory over Northwestern on Jan. 17 proved to be the season’s biggest highlight in a transition year. Brandon Starkey’s upset at 165 led the way to victory as Concordia snagged its first conference dual win of the season. Head coach Dana Vote also got a pin from Kale Hintz (174) and decisions from Alex Stepanek (141), Martin Dobler (149) and Nick Sheppard (174) to top the Red Raiders. In tournament action, the Bulldogs had 10 individual place finishes throughout the season, led by the four from heavyweight Frank Ayala. Brandon Starkey had three, Stepanek had two and Seth Crane had one. In addition, freshman Austin Starkey had a solid rookie campaign while wrestling at 157 and 165. With former NCAA Division III All-American Austin Mogg (125) in the fold for next year, combined with a strong anticipated recruiting class, Concordia should improve significantly in year two under Vote.
Thoughts from Coach Dana Vote: This was a rough year for us, but we gained a lot of experience. With the experience we gained and the new faces that will be in the lineup next year, I think we can make a little noise in 2013-14.
20 March 2013
Top winter sports moment: Concordia women's 4x800 meter relay (at left)
From left to right: Kim Wood, Jenean Williams, Jena Schwalenberg, Megan Letts.
Kristen Conahan (above) and the Concordia women's basketball team reached the national tournament for the fifth time in the last six years.
Brandon Starkey finished his Bulldog career with school records for victories (71), matches wrestled (131) and tournament place finishes (12).
Senior Beau Smith served as the most dependable performer for Bulldog men's basketball, averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds this past season.
Jonathon Becker (left) and Benjamin Hinckfoot (right) were both part of the Bulldog All-American 4x400 meter relay at the 2013 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships.