PREVIEW: Track and field begins national championships on Thursday
SEWARD, Neb. – The 49th annual men’s and 34th annual women’s NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships get underway on Thursday at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Concordia, which boasts the No. 7 nationally-rated women and the eighth-ranked men, will be represented by a total of 35 athletes at the event.
After a GPAC men’s indoor title and a women’s runner-up finish, 22nd-year head coach Kregg Einspahr has high hopes for his teams on the national stage.
“Both our men and women project to score around 17 or 18 points on paper, which is usually a top 15-20 finish,” Einspahr said. “Our goal every year is be in the top 15. Some years we’ve been able to get into the top 10 and I think we have that ability. We have a lot of people who could come out and score better than what it looks on paper. A lot of different things can happen at the national championships.”
Time has proven that lofty conference finishes do not necessarily translate to top national finishes, and vice versa. As Einspahr pointed out, his 2000 men’s team that placed runner up at the indoor national championships following a third-place conference finish.
“We have two very good conference type of teams,” Einspahr said. “That’s different than having teams that can finish high at nationals. The year we were runner up we had some extraordinary individuals that gave us some really big points.”
Based on the national leaderboards heading into the championship meet, Concordia’s biggest potential point scorers are senior Jamie Crouse (currently second in the NAIA in the weight throw), sophomore Cody Boellstorff (sixth in the weight throw) and senior Carson Farr (second in the pole vault). In addition, the Bulldog men’s 4x400 is seeded fourth in the NAIA.
Senior John Cartier, who will be part of the men’s 4x4, appears to be hitting his stride at the right time. He won the GPAC 400 meter dash in conference meet record time and has his sights set on an All-America claim in that event. He achieved that feat in 2011 in the 400 meters.
“John Cartier is running and sprinting better than he ever has,” Einspahr said. “He’s running that last 100 meters of the 400 very well. He could really come through with a big performance.”
No one on the women’s side will be busier than sophomore Kim Wood, who recorded national qualifying times in four different running events throughout the season. At the national meet, the native of Greeley, Neb., will concentrate on 1,000 meter and one mile runs along with the Concordia 4x800 meter relay, which claimed an All-America finish a year ago.
Of the 15 Bulldogs who earned All-America status at the indoor national championships in 2013, 11 return in 2014 in hopes of defending those honors. Crouse, a three-time GPAC champion in the weight throw, will aim for her third-consecutive All-America finish at the indoor meet.
For the Concordia men, 14 of the 19 qualifiers bring previous national championships experience. Eight of those 14 have earned past All-America honors. Out of the entire pool, nine are seniors, three are juniors, four are sophomores and three are freshmen.
The Bulldog women will travel 16 athletes to nationals, including 10 who have performed at past national championships. Eight of those 10 have garnered All-America status in one or more events throughout their careers. The women’s national qualifier list is made up of four seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.
Concordia indoor track and field history
The Bulldog men’s program has totaled 17 individual NAIA indoor national titles in history. On the women’s side, Concordia has had two individual champions and one relay title. Since 1997, the Bulldog men have placed inside the top 25 on 13 occasions, including six top 10 finishes. During that same time period, the women have finished in the top 25 a total of 11 times with three top 10 placements.
At last year’s indoor championships, the Concordia women placed 13th and the men finished 27th.
NAIA meet info
There are over 130 NAIA men's and women's teams that will make the trip to Geneva. The championships begin on Thursday with the women's pentathlon at 1 p.m. EST and the men's heptathlon at 1:30 p.m. Last year, the Oklahoma Baptist men and women swept the team competition.
NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting all sessions of the national championships. Packages can be purchased for $5.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
For the schedule of events, click here
Men's Qualifiers - by School | click here
Men's Qualifiers - by Event | click here
Women's Qualifiers - by School | click here
Women's Qualifiers - by Event | click here
4 March 2014
Senior Jamie Crouse
Senior John Cartier
Senior Carson Farr