2014-15 Indoor Track and Field

DECEMBER

  Dec. 12 Blue-White Intrasquad Fieldhouse Seward, Neb. Schedule

JANUARY

  Jan. 17 Scott Nisely Memorial Classic Webcast Scheduled Doane Crete, Neb. Results
  Jan. 23 Prairie Wolf Invite Devaney Center Lincoln, Neb. Results
  Jan. 30-31 Concordia Classic Fieldhouse Seward, Neb.

Results

FEBRUARY

  Feb. 6-7 Sevigne Husker Invite Devaney Center Lincoln, Neb. Results
  Feb. 7 Fred Beile Classic Doane Crete, Neb. Results
  Feb. 12 Concordia Indoor Invitational Concordia webcast scheduled Fieldhouse Seward, Neb.

Results

  Feb. 20-21 GPAC Indoor T&F Championships Concordia webcast scheduled Fieldhouse Seward, Neb. Results

MARCH

 

March 5-7

NAIA National Championships Concordia webcast scheduled SPIRE Institute Geneva, Ohio

Results

 
All Home Meets in BOLD


2015 Outdoor Track and Field

MARCH

  March 28 Wayne State Wildcat Classic Wayne State College Wayne, Neb. Results:
Men | Women 

APRIL

  April 4 UNK Loper Invite Univ. of NE-Kearney Kearney, Neb. Results
  April 11 Concordia Outdoor Invite Concordia webcast scheduled Concordia University Seward, Neb. Results
  April 17-18 Jim Dutcher Memorial Doane College Crete, Neb. Results
  April 22 Concordia Mid-Week Challenge Concordia University Seward, Neb. Results
  April 23 Nebraska Wesleyan Spring Invite NWU Lincoln, Neb. Results
  April 23-25 Drake Relays Drake University Des Moines, Iowa Results

MAY

  May 1-2 GPAC Championships Dordt Sioux Center, Iowa

Results

 

  May 8 Concordia Twilight Meet Concordia University Seward, Neb. Results
  May 21-23 NAIA  National Championships Concordia webcast scheduled Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium Gulf Shores, Ala. Results

 
All Home Meets in BOLD

2014-2015 Men's Track and Field Roster

Name Event Year Hometown High School
Josh Allwardt Distance Sr. Frederick, Md. Urbana
Adam Aschenbrenner Throws Jr. Malcom, Neb. Malcolm
Jack Babbitt Pole Vault So. Paxton, Neb. Paxton
Trey Barnes Throws Fr. Seward, Neb. Seward
Levi Betten Jumps Fr Olathe, Kan. Olathe East
Garrett Blomstedt Sprints/Jumps Sr. Sutherland, Neb. Sutherland
Charles Bloomfield Mid Distance Sr. Blair, Neb. Blair
Cody Boellstorff Throws Jr. Waverly, Neb. Waverly
Brock Braniff Throws Jr. Tekamah, Neb. Tekamah-Herman
Trevor Bresson Hurdles Jr. Colorado Springs, Colo. Classical Academy
Travis Brown Jumps Jr. North Platte, Neb. North Platte
Simon Brummond Pole Vault Fr. Norfolk, Neb. Norfolk
Matthew Chapa Hurdles Sr. Buffalo, Minn. Mayer Lutheran
Coleman Cogswell Distance So. McCool Junction, Neb. McCool Junction
Brandon Cook Hurdles So. Waverly, Neb. Waverly
Caleb Daniels Sprints Fr. Leander, Texas Leander
Christian Egger Hurdles So. Galva, Iowa Ridge View
Nathan Elbert Throws Fr. Albuquerque, N.M. Hope Christian
Trey Farmer Throws Sr. Seward, Neb. Seward
Kohlton Gabehart Distance Fr. Pleasant Dale, Neb. Milford
Ryan Gross Pole Vault So. Riverside, Calif. Riverside Poly
Thomas Hinrichs Hurdles Jr. Auburn, Neb. Auburn
Ethan Hughes Throws Fr. Leawood, Kan. Blue Valley North
Jacob Kettner Sprints/Jumps Jr. Salem, Mo. Salem
Philip Kreutzer Throws So. Kearney, Neb. Kearney
Kalvin Lankford Pole Vault Fr. Seward, Neb. Seward
Zachary Lurz Throws So. Torrington, Wyo. Torrington
Ben Montgomery Mid Distance Jr. North Platte, Neb. Norht Platte
Daniel Moore Jumps Sr. Fuita, Colo. Central
Chris Mosely-Hendricks Sprints So. Cedar Park, Texas Leander
Taylor Mueller Distance Jr. Cedar Rapids, Iowa Thomas Jefferson
CJ Muller Sprints So. Omaha, Neb. Millard West
Andrew Mussell Throws So. Buffalo, Minn. Buffalo
Creighton Pearse Distance Sr. Kearney, Neb. Kearney Catholic
Taiheem Pleasant Hurdles Sr. Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln Northeast
Jake Polk Throws So. Clarkson, Neb. Silver Lake
Jordan Potrzeba Distance Jr. Hastings, Neb. St. Cecilia
Brandon Ramos Multi Events Jr. Kihei, Hawaii St. Anthony
Tyrell Reichert Multi Events Fr. Benkelman, Neb. Dundy County-Stratton
Luke Riley Distance Jr. Hickman, Neb. Lincoln Christian
Casey Roberts Distance Sr. Wamego, Kan. Wamego
Jose Rojas Throws Jr. Nogales, Ariz. Nogales
Austin Schafer Pole Vault Fr. Milford, Mich. Walled Lake Community
Aivery Scheffer Sprints Fr. Cedar Park, Texas Leander
Benjamin Schulteis Throws Jr. Greenfield, Iowa Greenfield 
Chris Shelton Distance So. Minden, Neb. Kenesaw
Ethan Shotkoski Throws Fr. Fullerton, Neb. Fullerton
Ben Sievert Distance Sr. Frankenmuth, Mich. Frankenmuth
Joshua Slechta Throws Jr. Kennard, Neb. Creighton Prep
Zachary Spresser Jumps Fr. Hoxie, Kan. Golden Plains
Jaap van Gaalen Sprints So. Kaiserslautern, Germany Ramstein
JT Vecera Distance Fr. Fremont, Neb. Archbishop-Bergan
Dylan White Hurdles/Jumps Fr. Lexington, Neb. Overton
Lucas Wiechman Multi Events So. Pilger, Neb. Wisner-Pilger
Cole Wohlgemuth Distance Fr. Alton, Iowa Mac Floyd Valley
Matthias Wollberg Distance Sr. Kearney, Neb. Kearney 
Pat Wortmann Mid Distance Fr. Hartington, Neb. Hartington
John Woruo Sprints Fr. Omaha, Neb. Benson

2014-2015 Women's Track and Field Roster

Name Event Year Hometown High School
Andrea Anderson Pole Vault Fr. Omaha, Neb. Millard West
Tanel Baehr Mid Distance Sr. Mesa, Ariz. Mountain View
Kierstyn Besel Multi Events Sr. Broomfield, Colo. Denver Lutheran
Anna Beune Sprints/Multi Events Fr. Dodge, Neb. Wisner-Pilger
Christine Beune Sprints So. Dodge, Neb. Wisner-Pilger
Breanna Brockhaus Mid Distance Jr. Humphrey, Neb. St. Francis
Jordyn Brummund Sprints Fr. Doniphan, Neb. Doniphan-Trumball
Megan Burma Distance Jr. Platte, S.D. Sunshine Bible Academy
Ashley Canfield Distance So. Crete, Neb. Lincoln Christian
Kattie Cleveland Throws Jr. Petersburg, Neb. Boone Central
Stephanie Coley Throws Jr. Gering, Neb. Gering
Hope Colwell Springs/Hurdles So. Springfield, Mo. Saint Pauls Lutheran
Michaela Curran Distance Jr. Wahoo, Neb. Wahoo
Alayna Daberkow Sprints/Hurdles So. Madison, Neb. Madison
Morgan Eggert Mid Distance Fr. Atkins, Iowa Benton Community
Talitha Elbert Mid Distance Jr. Kaiserslautern, Germany Ramstein American
Brittany Erdmann Throws Sr. Chanhassen, Minn. Mayer Lutheran
Ericka Fischer Hurdles Sr. Hartington, Neb. Cedar Catholic
Paige Getz Jumps So. Paola, Kan. Paola
Rianne Gross Pole Vault Sr. Riverside, Calif. Riverside Poly
Brianna Hallmark Sprints So. Longmont, Colo. Mead
Haley Harpham Distance Sr. McCook, Neb. McCook
Shelby Hohnholt Distance Sr. Saratoga, Wyo. Saratoga
Randi Janzen Sprints So. Hampton, Neb. Giltner
Melanie Jochimsen Sprints Jr. Cedar Rapids, Iowa Linn-Mar
Alayna Kavanaugh Throws So. Roca, Neb. Lincoln Christian
Elizabeth King Throws So. Billings, Mont. Billings West
Alexandria Kolpin Sprints/Hurdles So. Overland Park, Kan. Blue Valley Northwest
Fallon Kostbahn Pole Vault So. Grand Island, Neb. Grand Island
Sydney Meyer Throws Fr. Campbell, Neb. Silver Lake
Cynthia Mick Pole Vault So. Carleton, Neb. Shickley
Cassandra Nagel Sprints Fr.    
Candace Norman-Kolling Sprints Jr. Crawford, Neb. Crawford
Lauren Pankow Distance Jr. Milwaukee, Wis. Milwaukee Lutheran
Jericca Pearson Sprints/Jumps Sr. Gibbon, Neb. Gibbon
Tracy Peitz Jumps Sr. Hartington, Neb. Cedar Catholic
Nicole Perry Throws Jr. Menifee, Calif. Paloma
Naomi Pfeil Multi Events Fr. Hiawatha, Iowa Cedar Rapids Kennedy
Marielle Plunk Sprints So. Cedar Park, Texas Leander
Beth Rasmussen Mid Distance Fr. Omaha, Neb. Concordia
Kali Robb Throws So. Sidney, Neb. Sidney
Erika Schroeder Mid Distance Sr. Davenport, Neb. Bruning-Davenport
Jill Schroeder Sprints/Jumps Fr. Davenport, Neb. Bruning-Davenport
Karissa Segelke Sprints/Hurdles So. Sidney, Neb. Sidney
Katelyn Shoup Jumps Jr. Clarks, Neb. High Plains
Emily Sievert Distance Fr. Frankenmuth, Mich. Frankenmuth
Cassie Starks Sprints/Pole Vault Sr. Haigler, Neb. Dundy County-Stratton
Angela Steinbacher Mid Distance So. Saint Charles, Mo. Agape Lutheran
Jan Steinbrueck Mid Distance Fr. St. Louis, Mo. Lutheran South
Shelby Stolze Sprints/Hurdles Jr. Norfolk, Neb. Lutheran Northeast
Jordyn Sturms Mid Distance Fr. Parker, Colo. Lutheran
Jenny Suing Sprints Sr. Crofton, Neb. Crofton
Katricia Svoboda Throws So. Norfolk, Neb. Norfolk
Marti Vlasin Sprints/Hurdles Fr. Seward, Neb. Seward
Allison Wiebe Throws So. Malcolm, Neb. Malcolm
Lauren Wilcox Distance Fr. Seward, Neb. Seward
Renee Williams Distance Sr. Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln Christian
Kim Wood Mid Distance Jr. Greeley, Neb. Greeley-Wolbach

Season preview: 2015 Concordia indoor track and field

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant

At a glance
Head coach: Kregg Einspahr (23rd year)
2014 men’s indoor GPAC finish: 1st
2014 men’s indoor national finish: 17th
2014 women’s indoor GPAC finish: 2nd
2014 women’s indoor national finish: 11th
2014 men’s indoor All-Americans (7): Jonathon Becker (4x400 meter relay), Cody Boellstorff (weight throw), John Cartier (4x400 meter relay), Carson Farr (pole vault), Alex Heiden (4x400 meter relay), Zach Lurz (shot put), CJ Muller (4x400 meter relay)
2014 women’s indoor All-Americans (8): Stephanie Coley (shot put), Jamie Crouse (weight throw), Lydia Pomerenke (pentathlon), Erika Schroeder (4x800 meter relay), Marti Vlasin (4x800 meter relay), Jenean Williams (4x800 meter relay), Kim Wood (4x800 meter relay, 1,000 meter run), Shelby Yelden (pole vault)

Outlook
A year removed from capturing the program’s first ever men’s track and field GPAC championship, the Bulldogs are preparing once again to make another run at the conference title. With both the men’s and women’s teams boasting balanced squads, expectations remain high.

Head coach Kregg Einspahr returns for his 23rd year as the head coach for the Bulldogs, taking the reins once again of a program that has had substantial success in sending numerous athletes to the national meet. With a core group of well-seasoned athletes returning, attaining the conference title and notching several national qualifying marks are realistic goals.

“We have a real good bunch coming back from last year and they, overall, are improved,” Einspahr said. “We have a pretty balanced team. We’ve got a really good throwing group, some good multi eventers and pole-vaulters who have improved over the last year. I think our long distance and middle distance look pretty good. Hopefully we can fill in with the distance and score some points there as well. We’re a balanced team and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

Defending national javelin champion Liz King sees bright things in the near future for a women’s squad that returns 11 individuals who garnered all-conference honors as well four athletes who earned All-American status.

“I think we have a really good shot to be at least top three in the conference and I think we have a really good chance to battle it out to be the conference champ,” King said. “That would be a goal I have for our team. We need to have everyone stay healthy and get a lot of high places at the conference meet. I think we’re going to be a well-versed team. We just need to be up there in the top sixes to score points.”

King went on to explain that it will be crucial for the team to not lean too heavily on a few select groups or individuals, but that it will take a total team effort if they want to win the conference championship.

“We’re going to need everybody,” King said. “We’re going to need a wide variety; we just can’t rely on one single group. We can’t rely on only the runners, we can’t rely on only the jumpers, we can’t rely on only the throwers. We all need to step up our games.”

Coming off All-Conference honors in cross country, junior sensation Kim Wood will provide a significant lift. After winning the conference 1,000 meter and one mile titles, Wood claimed All-American honors in the 1,000 meter run last season as well as in the 4x800 meter run alongside senior Erika Schroeder and sophomore Marti Vlasin. Junior All-American Stephanie Coley will return to the throwing ring with her eyes on a conference title after finishing third 3rd at the conference meet and sixth at the national meet a year ago.

The 4x800 meter relay team will look to improve on their second-place conference finish from a year ago as they return three members of the team in Schroeder, Vlasin and sophomore Angie Steinbacher.

The shot put will provide plenty of in-team competition as senior Brittany Erdmann and sophomore Kali Robb finished seventh and eighth, respectively, at last year’s conference meet.

Despite losing several key contributors to graduation, the men’s squad also returns numerous individuals who were influential in the team’s title run a year ago.

Although experience certainly helps, Einspahr noted that improvement from a year ago will be crucial if the team hopes to attain more success again this season.

“Well every year you hope that the guys who were freshmen, sophomores and juniors last year are going to be better and more experienced,” Einspahr said. “It didn’t always happen overnight for some of the guys that just graduated. They got better and better every year. We’re looking to have a lot of our returners improve and score one or two more places better at the conference meet. That would be a major help for us. We’ll just have to see how we fill those spots.”

Stepping in to fill one of those roles will undoubtedly be junior Jaap Van Gaalen who claimed the 600 meter crown last season and was a member of the 4x800 meter relay team that finished third at the conference meet.

A native of Enschede, Holland, the “flying Dutchman” is excited to see what his team will do this year.

“I feel pretty confident with what we have,” van Gaalen said. “It’s kind of a rebuilding year because we lost a lot of seniors, but if everyone steps it up and shows up to practice, we should be able to repeat as GPAC conference champions. I think we have more depth in the field events this year. We definitely need to step it up in our sprinting events to be able to repeat the successful year we had last year.”

Having been in training mode since early September, van Gaalen commented on the team’s outlook, and what he has seen up to this point.

“So far we are pretty good,” van Gaalen said. “We’ve had minimal injuries so far and we have different running groups that are becoming more in sync in terms of running the same times at practice. Everyone’s getting in better shape and getting stronger.”

The men return 15 individuals who earned all-conference recognition last season as well as All-American throwers Zach Lurz and Cody Boelstorff.

A loaded 600 meter field should provide plenty of entertainment as Concordia returns four individuals who placed in the top six in the conference meet last season. Led by van Gaalen, the remaining field includes senior Matthew Chapa and juniors Jacob Kettner and Trevor Bresson.

Do-it-all distance phenom Ben Sievert will look to finish his storied career strong. Sievert placed in the top three in the mile, 3000 meter and 5000 meter runs at the conference meet last season.

An area of the team to certainly keep an eye on will be the 4x400 meter relay team who returns just one individual in sophomore CJ Muller from last year’s championship squad and third place finish at the national meet.

Though a chance at another title run is on everyone’s mind, Einspahr noted that at this point in the very young season, it is difficult to make any bold predictions as how the fiercely competitive GPAC will stack up. The main emphasis on Einspahr’s mind is ensuring that his team improves and puts in the work and effort to prepare for the opening meet.

“I think we’re in a position where we’d like to be able to compete for the conference championship,” Einspahr said. “We don’t know how things are really going to shake out yet. It depends on what other schools bring to the table and obviously you can’t control that. I think as competitive as this conference is, it’s just real early to speculate, to project where we’re going to be in two-and-a-half months. Part of that is that we don’t know who other (teams) have, who has improved considerably from last year that they’re bringing back. There’s always some major surprises and new recruits that are coming in from other schools. It’s awful early to say how things are going to shape up for the conference championship.”

“For us, we need to have a good winter break of training where our student-athletes go home over Christmas,” Einspahr said. “It’s important that they go home and maintain their fitness levels. I think it’s always extremely important to try and stay healthy during the season; that’s a major key. That helped us last year as we were able to get to the ends of the indoor and outdoor seasons in really good shape.”

Nine automatic national marks highlight season-opening meet

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant

CRETE, Neb. – The 2015 indoor track season is officially underway as the Concordia University track and field teams trekked to Crete, Neb., to compete in the Scott Nisely Memorial Meet at Doane College on Saturday. The Bulldogs’ talented group of throwers turned in five automatic national qualifying marks and another three came from pole vaulters as part of a solid kickoff to the new campaign.

“We’ve got some rusty places to work on,” head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “You can tell that we’ve been off for a while with break and we just need a little more consistency in practice now so we can get back in a routine. Overall it was a very promising start to our season.”

Numerous Bulldog athletes started the season with impressive performances.

As the season progresses, the women’s 600 meter run should provide plenty of entertainment as sophomores Randi Janzen and Marti Vlasin raced to second and third place finishes in 1:40.23 and 1:40.98 respectively.

Senior Erika Schroeder claimed first place in the women’s 800 meter run with her time of 2:30 while junior Katelyn Shoup nailed a national qualifying mark in the triple jump with her effort of 36’10 1/4.”

Einspahr also noted that senior Cassie Starks and sophomore Kali Robb had “very good starts to the season.” Starks took third in the pole vault competition with her clearance of 11’ 9” (automatic national qualifying mark) while Robb earned third place honors in the shot put with a toss of 46’ 6 ¼” and fourth in the weight throw with a mark of 55’ ¾” as she qualified for nationals in both events.

Robb was part of an impressive group of Bulldog women’s shot put competitors. Robb, senior Brittany Erdmann (44’) and junior Stephanie Coley (43’ 10 ¾”) each punched tickets to the national championships with automatic marks.

The 4x400 meter relay team of sophomores Janzen, Vlasin, Marielle Plunk and Christy Beune raced to a second place finish in 4:03. The 4x800 meter relay team of Schroeder, Junior Tallie Elbert and sophomores Elizabeth Rassmussen and Angie Steinbacher claimed second place as well in 10:25.

Einspahr was pleased with the performances of several male individuals as well.

Concordia placed five individuals within the top seven places of the 600 meter run in a race that should provide plenty of excitement and in-team competition in the meets to come. Sophomore CJ Muller placed second in the race in 1:22 while fellow teammate and senior Matthew Chapa took third in 1:24.

In a thrilling and nail-biting 4x400 meter relay Concordia came from behind to edge out Doane by .23 seconds as junior anchor Jaap Van Gaalen kicked into high gear to pass a Doane athlete with just meters to go. Muller, Chapa and junior Jacob Kettner filled in the rest of the relay squad.

“I’m very pleased with our long sprinters and our short distance guys,” Einspahr said. “In the 600 and the 4x400 (meter relay) we looked real sharp.”

Freshman Patrick Wortmann started his indoor Bulldog career well with a third place finish in the 1000 meter run in 2:39 while junior Jordan Potrzeba gutted out a second place finish in the 3000 meter run in 9:09.

Sophomore Lucas Weichman and junior Brandon Ramos both cleared 15’9” in the pole vault to earn third and fourth place, respectively, with automatic national qualifying clearances. Meanwhile sophomore Zach Lurz had a phenomenal day in the ring, taking first in the shot put with a throw of 54’ 3 ¼” (ranked second nationally) and third in the weight throw with a heave of 56’ 4 ¾”.

“Our throwers looked good today,” Einspahr said. “You can tell that our throwers put in some good time over Christmas break so I think they’re ready to get going.”

Concordia will look to improve on their solid start when they compete in the Prairie Wolf Invite at Devaney Center in Lincoln on Friday (Jan. 23).

A year later, Bulldogs as motivated as ever

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

A year after sweeping indoor and outdoor GPAC titles, the Concordia University men’s track and field team isn’t resting on the laurels of the program’s first-ever conference championships. Some accomplished stalwarts such as Jonathon Becker, John Cartier, Carson Farr and Ben Hinckfoot have graduated and moved on, but a rock-solid tradition and nucleus of impressive athletes remain in place.

But before looking ahead, how about looking back at those thrilling 2014 GPAC titles, both of which came on the campus of rival Doane, which possessed a stranglehold on the top spot in recent years. The unseating of Doane marked the achievement of a goal last year’s senior class finally saw through. For current senior Tai Pleasant, life doesn’t get much better.

“It was one of the greatest feelings of my life,” said Pleasant, a 12-time all-conference honoree. “The fact that I got to win a championship with all the guys that I came to this school with was amazing. It always seemed like we would be able to win a title, but we never had all the pieces to do it. Last year we finally had all the right pieces.”

Already one indoor meet into the 2015 season, 23rd-year head coach Kregg Einspahr fields another group with top-of-the-GPAC aspirations. Last season’s breakthrough may help blaze a trail for a string of runs at the conference crown.

“I think it helps give you a certain amount of confidence,” Einspahr said of the 2014 successes. “Track and field can be a little difficult sometimes to develop a team feeling to it. There are so many moving parts and different aspects to it. I think there’s a very strong team aspect to it.

“I think that sense of pride and confidence (from winning GPAC titles), to a certain degree, can carry over having experienced it already. To have a feeling like you’re part of a successful team gives things a different flavor.”

While Einspahr says it’s not typical for freshmen to make or break your season, sophomore standout CJ Muller served as an exception in aiding Concordia’s rise to the top last season. Muller earned all-conference honors in the 200 and 400 meter dashes and as part of the 4x400 meter relay at both the 2014 GPAC indoor and outdoor meets.

Muller, a native of Omaha and former Millard West High School prep, says he learned from the likes of Becker, Cartier and others who worked tirelessly towards last season’s achievements. But the world didn’t stop just because last year turned into a special season.

“After winning the championship it really has motivated everyone, girls and guys,” Muller said. “We gained a lot of experience from last year, and we are ready to write our own story. Training has been stepped up to a whole new level, making sure we achieve our ultimate goal of repeating as GPAC champs.”

Einspahr admits that the points lost in the hurdles and sprints from the departures of Becker, Cartier and Hinckfoot will not be easily made up. Blows like that should be offset by other areas of strength, such as the throws. Assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s group might just turn out to be historic.

The ringleader is redshirt sophomore Zach Lurz, who might just have the physique to play Thor’s body double. The native of Torrington, Wyo., holds the school’s outdoor shot put record (57’ 3”) and ranks No. 2 on the discus list (177’ 9”). Teammate Cody Boellstorff owns the hammer throw record (203’ 4”) and is another in a long line of throwers expected to again score big points.

It’s such a talented group that modesty sometimes gets thrown to the wind.

“This is the best group of throwers this school has ever seen,” Lurz said. “Just look at the all-time lists. That alone can speak for itself. By the time I graduate from here, I will most likely have seen every single throwing record broken. Other schools hate throwing against us. We take too many people to the finals. Other schools in the conference might have one or two people make the final at any given meet, but we usually have five or six. Plus we have Liz King (2014 javelin national titlist).”

The prowess of Concordia’s throwers has become a given, along with another area of strength: the pole vault. Farr, a former GPAC pole vault champion, has used up his eligibility, but junior Brandon Ramos and sophomore Lucas Wiechman are rising stars and have qualified for the national championships in the pole vault. Einspahr believes both are breakout candidates coming off of already stellar 2014 campaigns.

Plus senior Ben Sievert, an All-American on the track and on the cross country trail, and another nice stable of 400 meter runners cannot be forgotten. Sievert is one of many accomplished Bulldogs on the roster. Now it’s time for several others to make their names.

“Guys have realized they can no longer be at the back of the pack and they have to carry their own weight,” Pleasant said. “This year's team really works on pushing each other to the max every day in practice. It's been paying off. We have some guys running faster and jumping higher and farther than they ever have.”

Improvement will be paramount in a conference Einspahr often refers to as the finest in small college track and field. Concordia will be one of the favorites, but nothing will come easy in the GPAC.

“We’d like see what we can do,” Einspahr said. “We should be in the top three of the conference. It’s a little early to see what some other schools have.

“We have some guys who I think are going to be considerably improved over last year. They have another year of confidence under their belts and I think some of them will open some eyes. Some are already pretty well-regarded in the conference and they’re just going to be that much better this year.”

Einspahr and his athletes seem to be on the same page. Last year was last year. Concordia has begun a new chapter.

“It’s a pretty common topic of conversation,” said Lurz of winning another conference title. “Being able to repeat as GPAC champs would just be another reminder as to just how good this team is and can be.”

Women show well in opening meet

Led by sophomore Kali Robb, the Bulldog women also have lofty expectations. Robb rang in the 2015 season with automatic national qualifying marks in both the shot put and the weight throw at last week’s Scott Nisely Memorial Classic hosted by Doane. Four additional Concordia women turned in national qualifying marks: Stephanie Coley (shot put), Brittany Erdmann (shot put), Katelyn Shoup (triple jump) and Cassie Starks (pole vault) for a balanced squad.

“I think we’re going to be a better team, but we’re probably going to need to improve in the middle distances and distances,” Einspahr said. “We’re a better long sprint and short-middle distance team than we were last year. We’ll have a very good throws group and a good pole vault group, as well as an excellent group of multi-eventers. We’ll see how that shakes out.

“I think we’ll be in the hunt for the top three spots in the conference on the women’s side as well.”

Wood, men’s weight throw shine at Prairie Wolf Invite

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant

LINCOLN, Neb. – There was plenty of excitement and action at a packed Bob Devaney Center, the sight of the Prairie Wolf Invite in Lincoln on Friday. In just their second meet into the young season, the Concordia University track and field teams came through with a few notable performances and were able to punch several more tickets to the national meet.

Though head coach Kregg Einspahr noted that there were “a few rough areas,” he remained optimistic.

“We made some progress in some events and overall we had a good day,” Einspahr said. “It’s still a little early in the season but we made some strides today.”

Junior Kim Wood was the sole female athlete to hit a qualifying mark for the first time this season at the meet. Wood cruised past the national qualifying mark by four seconds with her second place overall finish in 2:14 in the 800 meter run.

Freshman standout Emily Sievert finished just shy of the national qualifying mark in the mile run with her final time of 5:15 and third place overall finish.

The women’s 4x400 meter relay put together a solid effort of their own, shaving off four seconds from their time a week ago to move within national qualifying range. The relay team of Wood and sophomores Marielle Plunk, Randi Janzen and Marti Vlasin finished just .19 seconds away from the automatic qualifying time.

Sophomore Kali Robb continued her strong start to the season with a second place finish in the weight throw with a toss of 54’ ½”. Likewise, senior Cassandra Starks was impressive with her first place finish in the pole vault, clearing 11’ 8”.

On the men’s side, it was more of the same with strong showings from several throwers.

Sophomore Zach Lurz qualified in both the shot put and weight throw with tosses of 53’ 7 ½” and 55’ 6 ¼”, respectively. Lurz took first in the shot put and fourth in the weight throw.

Junior Joshua Slechta and senior Trey Farmer came up just short of automatic national qualifying marks in the weight throw with tosses of 56’ 1 ¾” and 53’ 10 ¼”. Slechta took third in the event while Farmer placed fifth.

The men’s 4x400 meter relay team placed second to end the long day, as they were unable to pull off another come-from-behind victory, this time falling short by .02 seconds to Hastings College. The relay team of senior Matt Chapa, juniors Trevor Bresson and Jaap Van Gaalen and sophomore CJ Muller finished in 3:22.

As the Bulldogs prepare to host their first meet of the season, Einspahr noted that there is room to improve, though he remains hopeful.

“We need to get some consistency in our practices,” Einspahr said. “Having some good practices this week and getting into a few more meets will help. We’ll be alright.”

Concordia will be back at it on Jan. 30-31 when it hosts the Concordia Classic in the Walz Fieldhouse.

Lurz locks up GPAC weekly recognition

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Recipient of the GPAC outdoor track and field athlete of the year award, redshirt sophomore Zach Lurz has been named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Week, as announced by the conference on Wednesday.

A 2014 All-American in the discus (outdoor) and shot put (indoor), Lurz won the shot put competition at the Prairie Wolf Invite on Jan. 23 with another automatic national qualifying mark of 53’ 7 ½”. He also placed fourth in the weight throw with a toss of 55’ 6 ¼”. On the season, the native of Torrington, Wyo., ranks second on the NAIA national leaderboard in the shot put (54’ 3 ¼”). He also sits fourth in the weight throw (56’ 4 ¾”).

Lurz is the program record holder in the outdoor shot put (57’ 3”). In addition, he ranks second on the outdoor discus list (177’ 9”), third in the indoor shot put (54’ 3 ¼”), fifth in the hammer throw (186’ 3”) and eighth in the weight throw (56’ 4 ¾”).

Lurz and the Bulldogs will compete at home for the first time this season when they host the Concordia Classic on Friday and Saturday inside the Walz Fieldhouse. View the complete event schedule HERE.

2015 GPAC men’s indoor field athletes of the week
Jan. 28 – Zach Lurz, Concordia
Jan. 23 – Levi Hillman, Doane
Jan. 16 – John Clouse, Doane

Track and field hosts Concordia Classic Friday and Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time this season, the Concordia University track and field programs will serve as a host when action gets underway inside the Walz Fieldhouse at annual Concordia Indoor Classic on Friday and Saturday. The event will get started with multi events at 3 p.m. on Friday before the bulk of the meet takes place on Saturday when field events get going at 11 a.m. and running events at 12 p.m. A total of 12 teams will make up the Concordia Classic field.

View the Concordia Classic event schedule HERE.

The first two meets of the season (Scott Nisely Memorial Classic and Prairie Wolf Invite) have produced 10 automatic national qualifying marks and five ‘B’ standard qualifying marks for the Bulldogs. Sophomore thrower Kali Robb is off to a sterling start with ‘A’ tosses in both the shot put (46’ 6 ¼”) and weight throw (55’ ¾”). On the men’s side, Zach Lurz, named GPAC field athlete of the week on Wednesday, ranks in the top five nationally in the shot put (54’ 3 ¼”) and weight throw (56’ 4 ¾”).

Of Concordia’s 15 marks reported on the national list, nine come from assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s throwers. Three ‘A’ marks have been turned in by assistant coach Jason Berry’s pole vaulters. Meanwhile, juniors Katelyn Shoup (triple jump) and Kim Wood (800 meter run) have also booked trips to the indoor national championships.

In the first NAIA national team rankings released Wednesday by the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, both Concordia teams earned top ten rankings with the men at No. 7 and the women checking in eighth. Other ranked teams at the Concordia Classic include the Baker University men (22nd), the Doane men (2nd) and women (2nd), the Hastings women (13th), the University of Nebraska-Kearney men (23rd in NCAA DII) and the Nebraska Wesleyan women (21st in NCAA DIII).

Former Bulldog men’s athletes hold Concordia Classic meet records in the 400 meter dash (John Cartier, 49.48), 1,000 meter run (Jared Hoffman, 2:34.32) and 3,000 meter run (Dana Schmidt, 8:37.11). Similarly, former Concordia women’s athletes possess meet records in the 600 meter dash (Bethany Sutton, 1:35.81), 5,000 meter run (Sarah Kortze, 17:54.86), long jump (Sloan Brandon, 18’ 1”) and weight throw (Jamie Crouse, 60’ 7 ¼”).

Teams at Concordia Classic
*National rankings in parentheses
Baker University – M (22)
Bethany College
Concordia – M (7), W (8)
Doane – M (2), W (2)
Hastings – W (13)
Kansas Wesleyan University
Midland
University of Nebraska-Kearney – M (23 in NCAA DII)
Northwest Missouri State University
Nebraska Wesleyan – W (21 in NCAA DIII, 19 in NAIA)
Ottawa University
Sterling College 

Concordia national marks

  • Women’s 4x400 meter relay – B (4:02.19)
  • Stephanie Coley – A; shot put (44’ 3 ½”), B; weight throw (53’ 7 ½”)
  • Brittany Erdmann – A; shot put (44’)
  • Trey Farmer – B; weight throw (55’ 11”)
  • Zach Lurz – A; shot put (54’ 3 ¼”), B; weight throw (56’ 4 ¾”)
  • Brandon Ramos – A; pole vault (15’ 9”)
  • Kali Robb – A; shot put (46’ 6 ¼”), A; weight throw (55’ ¾”)
  • Katelyn Shoup – A; triple jump (36’ 10 ¼”)
  • Josh Slechta – B; weight throw (56’ 1 ¾”)
  • Cassie Starks – A; pole vault (11’ 9”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – A; pole vault (15’ 9”)
  • Kim Wood – A; 800 meter run (2:15.10)

Multi eventers kick off Concordia Classic

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia’s first official home meet of the season got underway as the heptathlon competition kicked off the Concordia Classic in the Bulldog classic.

In a relatively quiet first of two days for the multi-event athletes, senior Brandon Ramos and sophomores Lucas Wiechman and Brandon Cook started their meets with respectable performances.

Ramos edged out Wiechman in the 60 meter dash to take second place in 7.33 seconds as Wiechman settled for third in 7.39 seconds. Wiechman notched a third place finish in the long jump as well, hitting a mark of 21’ 1 ½.” Cook earned the highest honors in the shot put with his toss of 39’ 1 1/4.”

At the end of day one, Wiechman currently sits in third place with 2646 points with Ramos and Cook in fourth and fifth with 2595 and 2514 points respectively.

The heptathlon competition will conclude tomorrow with the 60 meter hurdles, the pole vault and the 1000 meter run.

The rest of the Bulldog squad will be back in action tomorrow as well with field events commencing at 11:00 a.m. and running events at 11:30 a.m.

Concordia Classic produces more automatic national marks

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant

It was a busy, exciting and action packed day in the Bulldog Fieldhouse as Saturday concluded Concordia’s first home indoor meet. There was no shortage of exceptional performances as nine more Bulldogs hit national qualifying marks in a total of 10 events.

“We had a very good meet this weekend,” head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “I thought that overall, we competed very well.”

Junior Kim Wood headlined a list of four Bulldog women who punched their tickets to the national meet. Wood raced to a first place finish in the mile run with a time of 5:07 and a second place finish in the 1000 meter run in 2:59. Both of these feats were automatic qualifying times.

Junior Cynthia Mick will join Wood in Geneva, OH as she cleared 11’05” in the pole vault competition to claim fourth place. In the throwing ring, juniors Stephanie Coley and Kattie Cleveland hit qualifying marks as well in the weight throw with tosses of 57’01 1/2” and 54’09 1/2 that were good for second and fifth place respectively.

Several other Bulldog athletes had notable performances as well, a couple of whom are on the cusp of hitting national qualifying marks.

Senior Cassie Starks continued her phenomenal season with a clearance of 11’10 3/4” in the pole vault which landed her in a three-way tie for first. Sophomore Randi Janzen took third in the 600 meter run with a time of 1:40 while freshman standout Emily Sievert missed qualifying for the national meet in the 3000 meter run with her time of 10:33, just three seconds off the “A” standard.

The 4x400 meter relay team of sophomores Marielle Plunk, Christy Beune, Marti Vlasin and Randi Janzen took third in 4:04 while junior Katelyn Shoup flew through the sand pit to finish third in the triple jump with a landing that marked 35’09.” Back in the ring, sophomore Kali Robb continued to build her exceptional season with a toss of 46’00 3/4” in the shot put, taking second place.

The men had a few solid performances of their own.

Racing for the first time this season, and seemingly not having missed a beat, senior Ben Sievert gutted his way to a third place finish in the 3000 meter run with a time of 8:49.

“We got Ben Sievert on track,” Einspahr said. “He really had a surprisingly good race today. He’s coming off some sore Achilles from after cross country so it was great to see him getting going.”

Sophomore CJ Muller and junior Jaap Van Gaalen went 1-2 in the 600 meter run, dashing to final times of 3:22 respectively. Senior Tai Pleasant placed third in the 400 meter run with a time of 50.44 and then joined up with Van Gaalen and Muller as well as senior Matt Chapa to take second in the highly anticipated 4x400 meter relay. The four man squad missed the national qualifying mark by one second with their time of 3:22.

In the ring, the men took three of the top four places in the shot put competition, as sophomore Zach Lurz took first with his toss of 55’02 1/4.” Senior Trey Farmer and junior Jose Rojas tacked their names onto the national qualifying travel list with throws of 52’07 1/4” and 51’09” that earned them third and fourth place respectively.

Each of Concordia’s male heptathlon athletes qualified for national in the event as well. Sophomore Lucas Wiechman finished in second place with 4932 points, followed by senior Brandon Ramos who took fourth with 4752 points and sophomore Brandon Cook who finished in sixth with 4517 points.

“In the heptathlon, Lucas Wiechman had a really excellent two days,” Einspahr said. “He looks like he’s on track to get to the national meet and compete for All-American honors.”

After the meet, Einspahr expressed gratitude for the help that the program received in putting on the meet.

“We had a very big meet today and we really want to thank all of our volunteer workers,” Einspahr said. “They did a tremendous job. It takes anywhere from 40-60 volunteers to help run a big meet like this off. We certainly appreciate all the help we had from our student athletes that pitched in where they were needed.”

Lurz sets new program standard in indoor shot put

SEWARD, Neb. – Already the program record holder in the outdoor shot put, redshirt sophomore Zach Lurz added another record-breaking toss at Saturday’s Concordia Indoor Classic with a first-place mark of 55’ 2.25” in the indoor shot put.

The 2014 GPAC outdoor athlete of the week, Lurz leads all NAIA performers in the shot put. The native of Torrington, Wyo., currently ranks fourth in the weight throw with a measurement of 56’ 4 ¾”. Lurz won 2014 GPAC outdoor titles in the shot put and discus. He’s a two-time All-American.

The reigning GPAC field athlete of the week returns to action with his Bulldog teammates next weekend. Concordia will take part in both the Sevigne Husker Invite (Feb. 6-7) and the Fred Beile Classic (Feb. 7).

Twenty-nine Bulldogs officially named to list of indoor national qualifiers

SEWARD, Neb. – A group of 29 combined men’s and women’s Concordia University track and field athletes will head northeast to the 2015 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. The 50th annual men’s and 35th annual women’s event is set to take place March 5-7 at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.

Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s fourth nationally-ranked men’s squad will travel 14 athletes to the national championships. Six of the 14 Bulldogs return to the grand stage after appearing at the 2014 indoor championships. That list includes sophomore Zach Lurz, who currently leads the NAIA in the shot put. Last season Lurz placed eighth at indoor nationals to earn All-America status. In addition, sophomore CJ Muller ran the leadoff led for the All-America men’s 4x400 meter relay.

Meanwhile, the seventh-ranked Concordia women will take 15 athletes to Geneva. Among the group, eight appeared at the 2014 indoor national championships. At last year’s event, Kim Wood raced to All-America honors in the 1,000 meter run and ran the anchor leg for the All-America 4x800 meter relay that included 2015 qualifiers Erika Schroeder and Marti Vlasin. In addition, then sophomore Stephanie Coley placed sixth in the shot put for one of her three career All-America honors in the event.

There are over 140 men's and women's teams that will make the trip to Geneva. The championships begin on March 5 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 women repeated for the second-straight season and the Indiana Tech men earned their first-ever banner in the team competition.

Stretch Internet, the NAIA’s official video streaming company, will be broadcasting all sessions of the national championships. Packages can be purchased for $10. For more information, click here.

For the schedule of events, click here.
For more championship information, 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

2015 Concordia indoor national qualifiers

*Current national ranking in parentheses

MEN

  • Trey Barnes, freshman
    -Shot put (50’ 1 ¾”)
  • Trevor Bresson, junior
    -4x400 meter relay (12th, 3:21.24)
  • Matthew Chapa, junior
    -4x400 meter relay (12th, 3:21.24)
  • Brandon Cook, sophomore
    -Heptathlon (8th, 4,696 points)
  • Trey Farmer, senior
    -Shot put (11th, 52’ 7 ¼”)
    -Weight throw (10th, 55’ 11”)
  • Philip Kreutzer, sophomore
    -Weight throw (14th, 54’ 11 ¼”)
  • Zach Lurz, sophomore
    -Shot put (1st, 58’ 4”)
    -Weight throw (6th, 58’ 3 ¼”)
  • CJ Muller, sophomore
    -600 meter run (31st, 1:22.75)
    -4x400 meter relay (12th, 3:21.24)
  • Tai Pleasant, senior
    -4x400 meter relay (12th, 3:21.24)
  • Brandon Ramos, junior
    -Pole vault (10th, 15’ 10 ½”)
    -Heptathlon (5th, 4,797 points)
  • Jose Rojas, junior
    -Shot put (8th, 53’ 6 ½”)
    -Weight throw (8th, 56’ 8 ½”)
  • Josh Slechta, junior
    -Weight throw (5th, 58’ 11 ½”)
  • Jaap van Gaalen, junior
    -4x400 meter relay (12th, 3:21.24)
  • Lucas Wiechman, sophomore
    -Pole vault (5th, 16’ 2 ¼”)
    -Heptathlon (2nd, 5,101 points)

WOMEN

  • Kattie Cleveland, junior
    -Weight throw (13th, 54’ 9 ½”)
  • Stephanie Coley, junior
    -Shot put (6th, 46’ 8”)
    -Weight throw (7th, 57’ 11”)
  • Talitha Elbert, junior
    -4x800 meter relay (6th, 9:29.84)
  • Brittany Erdmann, senior
    -Shot put (15th, 44’)
  • Randi Janzen, sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (6th, 9:29.84)
  • Liz King, junior
    -Weight throw (17th, 53’ 9”)
  • Cynthia Mick, sophomore
    -Pole vault (10th, 11’ 10 ¾”)
  • Nicole Perry, junior
    -Weight throw (20th, 53’ 3”)
  • Kali Robb, sophomore
    -Shot put (5th, 47’ 5”)
    -Weight throw (2nd, 60’ 5”)
  • Erika Schroeder, senior
    -4x800 meter relay (6th, 9:29.84)
  • Katelyn Shoup, junior
    -Triple jump (18th, 37’ 3 ¼”)
  • Emily Sievert, freshman
    -3,000 meter run (40th, 10:33.56)
    -5,000 meter run (19th, 18:15.81)
  • Cassie Starks, senior
    -Pole vault (2nd, 12’ 6 ¼”)
  • Marti Vlasin, sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (6th, 9:29.84)
  • Kim Wood, junior
    -600 meter run (6th, 1:34.86)
    -800 meter run (4th, 2:12.55)
    -1,000 meter run (11th, 2:59.00)
    -One mile (6th, 5:01.28)
    -4x800 meter relay (6th, 9:29.84)

Track and field squads ready for indoor national championships

Concordia national qualifiers

SEWARD, Neb. – Ranked fifth in the NAIA on the men’s side and seventh on the women’s side, the Concordia University track and field squads will seek top 10 national finishes at the 2015 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. The 50th annual men’s and 35th annual women’s event is set to take place over three days (March 5-7) at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.

Following runner-up finishes for both the men and women at the GPAC championships on Feb. 20-21, head coach Kregg Einspahr likes the way his group of 29 national qualifiers stacks up on the national level.

“We’ve got an excellent national team for both men and women,” Einspahr said. “Using the year 2000 as an example, our men were third in the conference (second at nationals). We didn’t score as many points as Wesleyan and Doane, but we had some horses that were first and second in the conference. Those were the same guys who were first or second at nationals.

“I think we have a similar type of situation this year. On the men’s side this year it’s our throwers, vaulters and multi-event guys who can score some big points. We’re hoping to finish in the top eight at the national championships for both the men and women. Usually if you can score over 30 points you can get in the top 10. We think we have two teams that can do that.”

On the men’s side, Concordia owns 10 marks that rank among the top 10 nationally. Sophomore Zach Lurz, already a three-time GPAC champion, leads the NAIA in the shot put by more than three feet with his school record toss of 58’ 4” at the conference meet. Lurz and company have been ranked inside the top 10 of the NAIA all season and believe they’re poised to improve upon their 17th-place finish at the 2014 indoor national meet.

Lurz is one of six Concordia men’s throwers who will make the trip to Geneva. Trey Farmer, Jose Rojas and Josh Slechta also own one or more top-10 nationally ranked throwing measurements.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better. It really pushes me to be at my best every day,” Lurz said of being surrounded by a deep group of throwers. “When it comes to meet time, I’m ready to go thanks to these guys.”

Lurz and CJ Muller are returning All-Americans from last year’s national championships. Muller ran the leadoff leg for the All-America 4x400 meter relay that included three seniors who have graduated.

The men also have a talented group of heptathletes in Lucas Wiechman (2nd nationally in the event), Brandon Ramos (5th) and Brandon Cook (8th). The trio combined to score 18 points in the heptathlon at the conference meet. In addition, Wiechman and Ramos will compete in the pole vault at nationals.

On the women’s side, Kim Wood headlines the list of 15 Bulldogs headed to the national championships. Wood put forth an impressive display at the GPAC championships, winning three different races in a span of roughly two-and-a-half hours. She will run the one mile and the 1,000 meter race and possibly a leg of the 4x800 meter relay at the national championships.

Wood and her teammates are healthy and peaking at the appropriate time.

“By and large, the folks we’re taking to the national meet are really ready to go,” Einspahr said. “We have some athletes who can score some big points. We had by far our best marks at the conference meet, across the board. I’m really for some good things. We’re hitting our stride at the right time of the year. When you have your best performances at the conference meet, it gives you some reassurance and some confidence.”

While Wood looks to pile up points on the track, Concordia’s Cassie Starks (pole vault) and Kali Robb (weight throw) may make runs at national titles in their respective events. Both top the Bulldogs with marks that rank second nationally. Robb is the school record holder in the shot put and Starks broke a program standard in the pole vault in her GPAC title winning performance on Feb. 21. Robb is one of five female Bulldog national qualifiers, while Starks will be joined in the pole vault competition by teammate Cynthia Mick.

Returning women’s All-Americans from last year’s indoor championships include Stephanie Coley (shot put), Erika Schroeder (4x800 meter relay), Marti Vlasin (4x800 meter relay) and Kim Wood (1,000 meter run, 4x800 meter relay).

Since 1997, the Bulldog men have placed inside the top 25 on 14 occasions, including six top 10 finishes. During that same time period, the women have finished in the top 25 a total of 12 times with three top 10 placements.

Fourteen of Concordia’s 29 national qualifiers competed at the 2014 indoor national championships. The experienced group of Bulldogs will know what to expect in Geneva.

“That’s critical,” Einspahr said of the experience factor. “It’s very important to have been there and done that. There are not a lot of college men and women who can go to the national meet for the first time and have great performances. That experience is important for all kinds of things. It’s a 300-meter track, so that’s different for the runners. I think competitors are a lot more settled down if they’ve been there at least once before.”

There are over 140 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 women repeated for the second-straight season and the Indiana Tech men earned their first-ever banner in the team competition.

Stretch Internet, the NAIA’s official video streaming company, will be broadcasting all sessions of the national championships. Packages can be purchased for $10. For more information, click here.

For the schedule of events, click here.
For more championship information, 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

Concordia indoor national finishes since 2000
2014
: M – 17th | W – 11th
2013: M – 27th | W – 13th
2012: M – 38th | W – 29th
2011: M – 7th | W – 26th
2010: M – 15th | W – 12th
2009: M – 12th | W – 11th
2008: M – 7th | W – 14th
2007: M – 19th | W – 36th
2006: M – 5th | W – 29th
2005: M – 26th | W – 15th
2004: M – 7th | W – 27th
2003: M – 5th | W – 9th
2002: M – 20th | W – 8th
2001: M – 12th | W – 21st
2000: M – 2nd | W – 12th

Men’s heptathletes in running for All-America honors after day 1 at nationals

GENEVA, Ohio – A total of 12 Bulldogs competed on day one of the 2015 NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Three of those Bulldog competitors completed four of seven events on Thursday in the men’s heptathlon, an event in which Lucas Wiechman excels for head coach Kregg Einspahr’s Bulldogs.

With 2,656 points, Wiechman, a sophomore from Pilger, Neb., checks in at No. 4 in the heptathlon with the 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meter run set to be contested on Friday. Wiechman placed third in the long jump and fourth in the shot put. In addition, sophomore Brandon Ramos is within shouting distance of All-America honors with his 10th-place standing and 2,579 points. Teammate Brandon Cook is 14th with 2,545 points. All three Bulldogs entered the meet ranked in the top eight nationally.

A pair of relay teams took to the track in preliminary races for Concordia. The women’s 4x800 meter relay (Randi Janzen, Marti Vlasen, Erika Schroeder, Talitha Elbert), coming off a GPAC meet record performance, placed 16th out of 29 quartets with a time of 9:30.38.

Finishing up the day for Concordia athletes, the men’s 4x400 meter relay (CJ Muller, Tai Pleasant, Matthew Chapa, Jaap van Gaalen) finished 12th among 15 groupings. The Bulldogs’ time of 3:22.08 was inflated by a dropped baton, meaning both relays up came short of qualifying for the finals.

“Our men’s 4x4 still ended up with a pretty good time,” Einspahr said. “Without that mishap we probably advance to the finals, which would have been real good for them.”

Also on the track, standout freshman Emily Sievert placed 15th out of the field of 31 runners in the 5,000 meter prelims, but did not advance to the finals of the event. She clocked in at 18:14.48 for a personal best after making a hard charge down the stretch. The native of Frankenmuth, Mich., will get another shot to compete on Friday when she runs the 3,000 meter race.

“Emily had a real good race in the 5,000,” Einspahr said. “She’s had a great season for a freshman. She ran real well in the last 800 meters. She just got a little nervous and thought about things a little too much. She was not quite in the position she wanted to be in with a mile to go.”

The action in Geneva heats up on Friday with 19 Bulldogs scheduled to participate. Concordia will unleash a group of five competitors in both the men’s and women’s weight throws. In addition, Kim Wood, a national qualifier in five different events, is set to run the one mile and 1,000 meter races while school record holder Cassie Starks will pole vault on Friday. View the complete Friday schedule for Bulldog athletes below.

“Kim will have a good amount of rest in between races. She needs to run them like it’s the finals and make sure she advances,” Einspahr said. “She has a chance to place real high. Some other runners have been involved in relays and other races. Kim will be fresh so it will be an advantage for her.”

In the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings released this week, the Bulldogs are ranked fifth nationally on the men’s side and eighth on the women’s side.

Concordia’s Friday schedule

MEN
-9 CT / 10 ET a.m. – Heptathlon (Brandon Cook, Brandon Ramos and Lucas Wiechman)
-11 CT / 12 ET p.m. – Weight throw (Trey Farmer, Philip Kreutzer, Zach Lurz, Jose Rojas, Josh Slechta)
-1:40 CT / 2:40 ET p.m. – 600 meter run prelims (CJ Muller)

WOMEN
-12:05 CT / 1:05 ET p.m. – 1 mile run (Kim Wood)
-1:30 CT / 2:30 ET p.m. – Pole vault (Cynthia Mick, Cassie Starks)
-2 CT / 3 ET p.m. – Weight throw (Kattie Cleveland, Stephanie Coley, Liz King, Nicole Perry, Kali Robb)
-2:45 CT / 3:45 ET p.m. – 1,000 meter run (Kim Wood)
-3:25 CT / 4:25 ET p.m. – 3,000 meter run (Emily Sievert)

Slechta claims weight throw national title; Bulldog men tied for first entering final day

By Taylor Mueller

GENEVA, Ohio – Day two of competition at the 2015 NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships was a busy one for the Concordia Bulldogs as 17 different individuals competed.

Topping the headlines for Concordia, however, was junior Josh Slechta who notched himself a national title crown in the weight throw with a heave of 59’6.” The 6’5” native of Kennard, NE hit three personal record marks en route to his first ever national title.

With five Bulldogs entered in the finals of the weight throw, Slechta emerged as the main contender as throwing coach Ed McLaughlin admitted that the in-team competition was wide open as to who was capable of making a strong push for the title.

“We knew we had a couple with a shot (for a national title),” McLaughlin said. “There was no definitive leader going into nationals. We knew we had a couple who were capable of throwing far enough, it just happened to be Josh. I'm so happy and completely excited for him. He actually (earned a personal record) three times today. He lost the lead in the finals and then jumped right back in front. I’m beyond excited for Josh.”

Although he is not one to be outspoken, Slechta maintained a quiet intensity and even slight dissatisfaction in his own performance, though the reality of the situation gradually began to kick in.

“He's pretty quiet,” McLaughlin said. “He doesn't get real emotional. He reacted very maturely. He was actually upset he didn't break 60 feet. I think about an hour later he realized what he had done and was amazed. He was the only football player in the field, and it was his first time at indoor nationals. That's a big deal.”

As for the remaining four weight throwers, sophomore Zach Lurz garnered All-American honors for the second straight year with a toss of 57’3” to take fifth place. Sophomore Philip Kreutzer narrowly missed All-American honors by one inch and settled for ninth place with a toss of 55’9.” Senior Trey Farmer took 10th with a throw of 54’4” while junior Jose Rojas notched 12th place with a heave of 54’3.”

The women had a strong showing of their own in the weight throw, with another five individuals joining in the competition. Sophomore Kali Robb finished her impressive season with a third place finish and a throw of 60’9” to claim All-American honors.

“Kali (earned a personal record) too,” McLaughlin said. “She could have easily been second. Maybe by next year she'll be there. It was actually Kali's best series of her life. She was up around 60 feet all day. I was excited to see that.”

Junior Stephanie Coley missed the remaining All-American spot by less than an inch with her toss of 54’10” and settled for ninth place. Junior Elizabeth King took 18th with a  throw of 51’5,” while junior Nicole Perry took 19th with a toss of 51’2.” Junior Kattie Cleveland finished in 20th with a heave of 49’2.”

“It was a real decent day. We came away with three All-Americans and had five make it to the finals. That's a good day.”

Concordia will have more throwers in action tomorrow when they compete in the shot put competition, an event that McLaughlin noted will require significant focus and poise.

“Obviously we want to do our best and compete our best. If that happens then it's going to be a really good day. There's no easy road to the finals. If you don't have it, you're going to be sitting out watching the finals. It comes down to which throwers show up and which don't. It's going to be exciting. We've got three girls in the top 15 in the shot and three guys in the top 12.”

Several other Bulldogs had impressive performances on the day as well and were able to come through with All-American performances. Senior Cassandra Starks took sixth place in the pole vault, clearing 11’10.”

The Bulldogs gained significant attention in the heptathlon, as each of the three Bulldogs who qualified for the national meet finished with All-American honors in the event. Sophomore Lucas Wiechman moved up a spot to finish in third place with 5014 points. Junior Brandon Ramos had a monster day and jumped up six spots to take fourth place with 4903 points while sophomore Brandon Cook took eighth with 4628 points.

Other Bulldogs in action included junior Cynthia Mick who took 18th in the pole vault with a clearance of 11’3.” Freshman Emily Sievert took 15th place in the 3000 meter run with a time of 10:36.

Junior Kim Wood took 22nd in the mile run in 5:22, but came back strong to qualify for the 1000 meter run on Saturday with a preliminary time of 2:54. Sophomore CJ Muller also punched his ticket to the finals of the 600 meter run with a time of 1:20 in the 600 meter run.

With just one day left of competition, the Bulldogs are tied for first place in the overall team standings with Indiana Tech at 26 points apiece. The women sit in 10th place with nine points.

A top five finish is looking to be very realistic, should the Bulldogs be able to string together several strong performances in the final day of competition.

“That would be great for the program and great for the school,” McLaughlin said. “We're doing it the right way. We have great kids who work really hard. It comes down to the way you perform on the day of the meet.”

Lurz wins shot put national title; Bulldog men place 5th, women 11th

GENEVA, Ohio – A stellar two-day stay for Concordia University track and field concluded with a pair of top dozen team finishes at the 2015 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships held at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. A total of six Bulldogs were recognized as All-Americans on Saturday to bring the weekend count to 11 (13 total All-America finishes) for head coach Kregg Einspahr’s squads.

One day after Concordia junior Josh Slechta captured a national title in the weight throw, teammate Zach Lurz did the same in the shot put. Their efforts were a big reason why the Bulldog men placed fifth nationally with 47 points. The women finished 11th with 22 points.

“We had a goal to earn top-10 finishes as a team for both the men and women,” Einspahr said. “Had everything gone perfect we may have accomplished that, but fifth and 11th are tremendous finishes. It speaks very well for the program. Our men were in the hunt for the top four, but we’re very pleased with fifth.”

Lurz, part of a deep field of Concordia long tossers, hurled the shot put 58’ 7 ¼”, again breaking his own program record in the event. That measurement was enough to out-distance runner-up finisher Jacob Armbrust of Olivet Nazarene University by more than two-and-a-half feet. Lurz, a native of Torrington, Wyo., also won the conference title in the same event.

The three-time All-American and three-time GPAC titlist helped make it a special weekend for Concordia’s highly-regarded throwers.

“It was quite an accomplishment for Coach (Ed) McLaughlin to have the national champion in both the weight throw and shot put,” Einspahr said. “It was an exciting meet for the throwers in particular.”

Winner of three GPAC titles two weeks ago, Kim Wood continued her tremendous junior campaign with a national runner-up finish. Wood, now a five-time GPAC titlist, defended her All-America race from last year’s indoor championships with her school record-breaking time of 2:53.46 on Saturday in the 1,000 meter run. That performance pushed her past the former program standard held by Rachael Geidel (2:55.81).

“To be national championship runner up is a great accomplishment,” Einspahr said. “She ran a very good race. I think the nerves got to her a little bit in the prelims of the mile. She bounced back and showed toughness. She gave a great effort. She feels like she might have been able to do a little bit more to have a different outcome. She was in it to try to win the race.”

A standout career in the shot put continued for junior Stephanie Coley, who recorded her fourth career All-America plaque in the event. Coley turned in a personal best and program record of 47’ 7 ¼” on Saturday for a fourth-place finish. The native of Gering, Neb., has placed in All-America territory in each of her three appearances at the indoor national championships.

Ranked 31st nationally in the 600 meter run entering the national championships, sophomore CJ Muller far exceeded his position on the national list. Muller ran an impressive 1:20.02 in the preliminaries on Friday and then backed it up with a 1:20.84 on Saturday. The Millard West High School product placed sixth for his first career individual All-America honor.

Loaded in the shot put on both sides, Concordia also had ninth- (Kali Robb) and 12th-place (Brittany Erdmann) finishers in the women’s shot put. In the men’s competition, Jose Rojas flanked Lurz with a fourth-place slotting thanks to a mark of 54’ 5 ¼”. Trey Farmer also placed 14th in the shot put.

In the men’s pole vault, both Brandon Ramos and Lucas Wiechman cleared top-10 marks. Ramos, already a 2015 All-American along with Wiechman and Brandon Cook in the heptathlon, grabbed All-America honors with a sixth-place clearance of 15’ 5.”

Since 1997, the Bulldog men have placed inside the top 25 on 15 occasions, including seven top 10 finishes. During that same time period, the women have finished in the top 25 a total of 13 times with three top 10 placements.

Concordia 2015 indoor All-Americans

  • Stephanie Coley (shot put – 4th)
  • Brandon Cook (heptathlon – 8th)
  • Zach Lurz (shot put – 1st; weight throw – 5th)
  • CJ Muller (600 meter run – 6th)
  • Brandon Ramos (heptathlon – 4th; pole vault – 6th)
  • Kali Robb (weight throw – 3rd)
  • Jose Rojas (shot put – 4th)
  • Josh Slechta (weight throw – 1st)
  • Cassie Starks (pole vault – 6th)
  • Lucas Wiechman (heptathlon – 3rd)
  • Kim Wood (1,000 meter run – 2nd)

Lurz, Slechta reflect upon national titles

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia men’s track and field program entered last week’s indoor national championships with 27 all-time individual national titles. None of those had come in throwing events. That changed in a big way on back-to-back days that saw sophomore Zach Lurz claim the shot put title and junior Josh Slechta seize the weight throw plaque in a performance that may have surprised some.

While expectations were high for the dominant group of Bulldog throwers, a sweep of throwing national titles took things a step further than what throws coach Ed McLaughlin can comprehend even two days after the conclusion of the meet.

“I can’t even explain it,” McLaughlin said. “I asked both of them Friday and Saturday if it had settled in yet because it hasn’t settled in for me yet. I’m still in shock. I go back to thinking about it. It’s just amazing. Josh was one of the few guys on Friday that actually improved his seed marks. Nobody wanted it, and Josh did. It was amazing to watch him win that thing.”

Lurz, a three-time GPAC titlist, headed to the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, expecting to be a national champion. With a target on his back as the NAIA leader in the shot put, Lurz performed at his best under pressure. He again broke his own indoor school record in the shot with his winning toss of 58’ 7 ¼”.

The 19 other competitors in the shot put found out quickly that they were all competing for second place. Lurz won the competition by more than two-and-a-half feet.

“It’s a lot to live up to. Sitting No. 1 you know everyone is gunning for you,” Lurz said. “The marks you put up in the weeks leading up to nationals don’t mean anything once you get there. People can jump you. You still have to compete to be the best.”

McLaughlin characterizes Lurz as one who is never willing to settle for second best, as well as the finest throwing technician he has ever coached. While at Torrington High School in Wyoming, Lurz won a state title in the shot and had a runner-up finish in the discus. He wasn’t about to stop there. At the 2014 GPAC outdoor championships he garnered the conference athlete of the year award thanks to championships in the shot and discus.

With another two-and-a-half years of collegiate competition remaining, Lurz is seemingly taking his performance to greater lengths with each throw he hurls.

“It’s pretty much the same feeling,” Lurz said when comparing the national title to his state title. “It’s nice to end the season on a PR. It was fun winning a state title in high school. Winning a national title is hard to describe. You sit there at the end of the year and it doesn’t really settle in right away. Then you realize you did what you needed to do. It’s been a fantastic season.”

Slechta checked in at No. 5 on the NAIA’s national weight throw list heading into the competition on March 6. The native of Kennard, Neb., aspired to be an All-American, but a national title was like a “fairy tale” in the words of Slechta.

Unlike the other 19 throwers in the competition, Slechta got a late start because of his role as a tight end on the Bulldog football team and an injury that held him out of part of the football season. His story is a definite underdog tale. The 6-foot-6 Slechta had reached the state championships in high school, but he had never won a weight throw competition at any level.

“My goal was to be an All-American and get on that podium,” Slechta said. “After my first throw I started thinking, ‘wow, I could actually do something.’ It was nerve racking watching everyone throw and figuring out what marks they had. It started to sink in that I could win it.”

Slechta rattled off a mark of 59’ 6 ¾”, winning the event by less than three inches. In some years, a national championship in the weight throw requires gargantuan tosses of at least 60 feet. The timing was right for Slechta, who accomplished something never before done by a Concordia male athlete. In 2010, Bulldog James Refenes finished as a national runner up despite a mark of 63’ 7 ½” (school record).

Now Slechta can hardly believe that his name has been added to the program’s list of national titlists.

“I was honestly shocked,” Slechta said. “It didn’t really sink in until about an hour afterwards. I was pretty speechless. Someone asked me how I felt and I just said, ‘I don’t have anything for you right now.’”

Both Lurz and Slechta credited their teammates as well as McLaughlin for pushing them to reach their max potential. Few could be happier for the pair of national champions than McLaughlin, who speaks of them like a proud papa.

“Once it’s over, you relax, you breathe and you have a great time with it,” McLaughlin said. “I probably jabber too much. It was really an amazing weekend.”

The two throwing national titles were a big boost to Concordia’s team finish of fifth place (one point out of fourth). The Bulldogs were tied for first entering the meet’s final day.

Both Lurz and Slechta now prepare for the outdoor season, which is slated to begin on March 28 with the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College.

McLaughlin on Lurz

I’ve never brought a kid in saying, ‘hey I expect you to win a national championship.’ That’s not what we’re here for. We’re a developmental program and we want to give kids an opportunity to compete for four more years and have some fun. Along the way, we want All-Americans and all-conferences. We want them to want it. He was a state champion in high school. He doesn’t like to get second – never has. He works so hard. He’s putting on the right weight. He’s all muscle. He’s fast and he’s strong. He does everything the right way. He’s by far the best technician of any thrower I’ve ever worked with. His rhythm was amazing on Saturday. He walked into the meet and just took it over.

McLaughlin on Slechta
We took it real easy with him the first couple months when he got done with football. When we got back from Christmas break, we threw him into it. He misses out on a lot of fall stuff. He throws really far with a lot of heart and size. He walks into the ring and he’s got a lot of advantages at 6-6. Technically compared to everybody else, he’s always a couple months behind. He just works hard. He does everything he’s supposed to do. He just started throwing as a junior in high school. Josh is an amazing athlete. I’m just happy for him.

Concordia men’s track and field all-time national champions
2015 – Josh Slechta (weight throw; indoor)
2015 – Zach Lurz (shot put; indoor)
2011 – Chris Tegtmeier (race walk; indoor)
2008 – Michael Saalfeld (800 meter run; indoor)
2008 – Micahel Saalfeld (800 meter run; outdoor)
2008 – Chris Tegtmeier (race walk; indoor)
2003 – Jeb Myers (pole vault; indoor)
2002 – TJ Kloster (pole vault; outdoor)
2001 – TJ Kloster (pole vault; indoor)
2001 – Quinton Furr (long jump; indoor)
2000 – TJ Kloster (pole vault; indoor)
2000 – TJ Kloster (pole vault; outdoor)
2000 – Brandon Seifert (mile run; indoor)
1998 – TJ Kloster (pole vault; indoor)
1998 – TJ Kloster (pole vault; outdoor)
1990 – Gene Brooks (pole vault; indoor)
1989 – Gene Brooks (pole vault; indoor)
1989 – Gene Brooks (pole vault; outdoor)
1988 – Gene Brooks (pole vault; indoor)
1987 – Gene Brooks (pole vault; indoor)
1985 – Patrick Gellens (pole vault; indoor)
1985 – Patrick Gellens (pole vault; outdoor)
1985 – Patrick Gellens (decathlon; outdoor)
1982 – Kregg Einspahr (mile run; indoor)
1982 – Kregg Einspahr (steeplechase; outdoor)
1981 – Kregg Einspahr (2 mile run; indoor)
1981 – Kregg Einspahr (steeplechase; outdoor)
1980 – Kregg Einspahr (2 mile run; indoor)
1980 – Kregg Einspahr (steeplechase; outdoor)

Track and field readies for outdoor season

By Taylor Mueller

Just weeks removed from an impressive finish to the indoor track and field season, the Concordia Bulldogs are gearing up for one last run as the outdoor season sets to begin on Saturday at the Wayne State Wildcat Classic in Wayne, Neb.

Both the men’s and women’s squads have plenty of momentum to carry, coming off fifth and 11th place national finishes, respectively. Expectations remain high for a Concordia program that has nothing but high standards.

Coach Kregg Einspahr returns for his 23rd year as the head man for the Bulldogs. With high-achieving athletes in numerous events, Einspahr did not hesitate to set high goals for the team.  

“We would like to compete for the top two spots in the GPAC championships and challenge for the conference championships,” Einspahr said. “At the same time we are working to achieve our goals. I would like to see our student-athletes enjoy their track and field experience and have some fun.”

Earning high conference finishes are very realistic goals for the Bulldogs, who came off second place finishes in the indoor season. Although events such as the 600 meter and 1000 meter runs will not be part of outdoor competition, the addition of the 100 meter dash, 4x100 meter relay, 400 meter hurdles, 10,000 meter run and the steeplechase could provide some extra point scoring. An already strong throwing squad will have even more opportunities to shine with the addition of the javelin, hammer and discus throws.

“I think we should be as good or better at the 2015 Outdoor NAIA National Track & Field Championships at the end of May in Gulf Shores, Alabama,” Einspahr said. “It would be nice to see both teams finish in the top eight nationally and perhaps get into the top four for one of the teams.”

The women’s squad boasts plenty of talent in numerous events. 2014 national champion Liz King will look to defend her javelin crown aside the likes of sophomore Kali Robb and junior Stephanie Coley who are coming off impressive indoor finishes.

Junior Kim Wood will provide plenty of entertainment in a slew of events ranging from lengthy sprints to middle distance races while freshman Emily Sievert will look to cap off a strong freshman year.

Senior Cassandra Starks will look to put an exclamation point on what has already been a thrilling senior season for the senior from Haigler, Neb. In her first indoor season without sustaining an injury, Starks certainly made the most of it. Now with a sixth place finish and an indoor school record under her belt, Starks is hungry for one last shot at success.

The high-goal mindset is common among the Bulldogs, as Starks expressed similar aspirations as her head coach, adding that the women should also be able to carry over a significant amount of momentum from their successful indoor season.

“I would like to win conference and place high in nationals. I think we can get top five in nationals,” Starks said. “I think we can definitely carry that over. We usually get a few more girls for outdoor, a few more than indoor. People are getting in better shape and getting more used to competition and more experience. Keeping up a good work ethic and maintaining a strong team bond are the biggest things that are going to help us out.”

As for herself, Starks is keeping her eyes on one goal that she has yet to attain.

“I definitely want to go out strong and have a good outdoor season,” Starks said. “I want to get the school record again for outdoor since I did that for indoor.”

Senior Taiheem Pleasant brimmed with nothing but confidence and excitement as he opened up about his vision for the men’s squad.

The 5-foot-11 senior from Lincoln, Neb., wants to “go out on top” and has a few milestones that he would like to hit along the way.

“As always, winning a GPAC championship would be nice,” Pleasant said. “If not, we’d like to finish in the top two. We at least want to beat Morningside and Briar Cliff.”

Pleasant noted that several groups and individuals will need to step up if the Bulldogs hope to accomplish another high conference finish, though he believes that the outdoor season can bring even more success than the indoor season.

“We’re going to need help from our sprinters and hurdlers,” Pleasant said. “The throwers keep doing an amazing job. The vaulters are doing good, and we’ve got (multi-event athletes). We just need the sprinters to step up, which should be good for outdoor, it’s a little bit of a longer track. The 100 (meter dash) and the 200 (meter dash) should go well for us, as should the 400 (meter) hurdles.”

“We’re going to do a lot better, (than indoor season),” Pleasant said. “We also have a 4x100 meter squad now which should get us some more points. The 100 (meter dash) should get us some points compared to the 60 (meter dash). Then we’ll have three guys in the 200 (meter dash). I’m excited about outdoor because we have more hurdlers in the 400 hurdles where other teams don’t.”

The men have plenty of talent at their disposal in numerous events across the board to back up Pleasant’s goals.

Pleasant leads a strong group of sprinters that includes senior Matt Chapa, junior Jaap Van Gaalen and sophomore CJ Muller.

The decathlon will provide plenty of in-team competition as All-Americans Lucas Wiechman, Brandon Ramos and Brandon Cook gear up for another round of domination.

Sophomore and shot put national champion Zach Lurz returns to the ring to the ring in hopes of adding an outdoor title to his resume. Junior and national indoor weight throw champion Josh Slechta will join him as the duo leads a phenomenal and deep group of throwers.

When the action gets under way on Saturday in Wayne, Neb., Pleasant guaranteed that there will be plenty to look forward to.

“Concordia’s on the come-up,” Pleasant said.

Ten Bulldogs post automatic national qualifying marks to open outdoor season

By Taylor Mueller

WAYNE, Neb. – The Concordia Bulldogs are off to a roaring start in the outdoor track and field season. In just their first meet of the outdoor season, the track and field programs are already preparing to send a combined 10 athletes to the national meet.

The field event athletes provided the bulk of the excitement as the throwers continued their dominance and monumental success in nearly every event.

Junior Stephanie Coley had a big day, taking third in both the shot and the discus, with tosses of 46’07 ½” and 149’09” respectively. Coley’s marks are sending her to Gulf Shores, Ala., for the national meet.

Sophomore Kali Robb had a solid day herself, hitting three national qualifying marks: (discus, hammer throw and the shot put). She became the first thrower in program history to put up automatic marks in all three throwing events at the same meet.

Junior Liz King will get a chance to defend her national javelin title as she punched her ticket to the national meet with first place finish and an opponent-crushing toss of 134’07.” The mark topped the second place finisher by over 15 feet. Senior Cassandra Starks will board the bus to Alabama as well in May. Starks cleared 12’01” to take first place in the event. Junior Cynthia Mick took third with a vault of 11’07 ¾.”

Other females with top performances were Katelyn Shoup in the triple jump with a mark of 36’08 ¼” that earned her second place. Freshman Emily Sievert placed third in the 10,000 meter run with a time of 39:32 while senior Erika Schroeder clocked in at 11:37 to take first in the steeple chase. Junior Megan Burma finished in third in the steeplechase with a time of 12:04.

Fresh off a late basketball season, sophomore Alayna Daberkow had little trouble jumping into the track season, placing second in the 400 meter hurdles in 1:06. Junior Shelby Stolze was not far behind, taking third in 1:07. The 4x100 meter relay squad of sophomores Marielle Plunk and Randi Janzen and freshmen Jill Schroeder and Anna Buene took second with a time of 50.18.

The men sent several athletes to the national meet as well, again, a majority of the tickets being punched by the deep and talented throwing squad.

Senior Trey Farmer took first in the shot put competition with a toss of 51’10 ½” while sophomore Zachary Lurz finished in third with a  mark of 51’06 ½.” Both Farmer and Lurz qualified for nationals with their performances.

Junior Cody Boelstorff returned to the ring to compete in his strongest event, the hammer throw. Boelstorff dominated the competition, winning the event by over 24 feet and qualifying for the national meet by over 12 meters. His mark of 205’08” placed first and broke his own school record. Juniors Jose Rojas and Josh Slechta took fourth and sixth in the event, with marks of 177” and 171’05” respectively. Rojas' mark automatically qualified him for the national championships.

Senior Brandon Ramos qualified for the national meet in the pole vault with a clearance of 14’07 ¼,” which earned him a tie for second place.

On the track, several individuals had impressive performances as well.

Sophomore CJ Muller placed second in the 400 meters with a time of 48:87 while senior Taiheem Pleasant took second in the 400 meter hurdles in 56:16.

Junior Jordan Potrzeba started the season strong with a third place finish in the 10000 meter run with a time of 33:31 while fellow distance training partner Chris Shelton championed the steeplechase with a time of 10:15.

The Bulldogs will have a week to prepare for their next meet when they travel to Kearney, Nebraska to compete in the UNK Loper Invite on Saturday, April 4.

Track and field programs ranked fourth in first outdoor rankings of 2015

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – In the first NAIA outdoor track and field computer rankings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), both the Concordia University men’s and women’s teams held down No. 4 national ratings. Among GPAC programs, the Bulldogs checked in at the top on both sides.

The Concordia men have equaled their highest-ever outdoor national rating since the USTFCCCA began tabulating computer rankings in 2014. Meanwhile, the women have pushed themselves to No. 4 after having ranked as high as sixth during the 2014 outdoor season. Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s squads are coming off of indoor national championships finishes of fifth (men) and 11th (women), respectively.

At the opening meet of the outdoor season, the Concordia men and women combined for 12 automatic national qualifying marks while competing at the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College (March 27-28). Of those 12 lofty marks, 11 were recorded by assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s throwers. Junior Cody Boellstorff broke his own program with an event-winning toss of 205’ 8” in the hammer throw. In addition, sophomore Kali Robb became the school’s first-ever thrower to qualify for nationals in the discus, hammer and shot put all at the same meet.

Concordia boasts 12 marks that rank in the top five nationally:
No. 1 Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw)
No. 1 Kali Robb (hammer throw)
No. 2 Stephanie Coley (shot put)
No. 2 Liz King (hammer throw)
No. 2 Cassie Starks (pole vault)
No. 3 Trey Farmer (shot put)
No. 4 Stephanie Coley (discus)
No. 4 Liz King (javelin)
No. 4 Cynthia Mick (pole vault)
No. 4 Jose Rojas (hammer throw)
No. 5 Josh Slechta (hammer throw)
No. 5 Zach Lurz (shot put)

The Bulldogs will return to action at the Loper Invite hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday. 

King, Lurz named GPAC field athletes of week

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the third-consecutive week, the highly-rated Concordia University track and field program has swept weekly field honors from the GPAC. On Wednesday the conference announced sophomore Zach Lurz and junior Liz King as the latest GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Field Athletes of the Week. It’s the third time Lurz has garnered the award in 2015. He was named NAIA national field athlete of the week on April 8.

Lurz enjoyed a monster meet over this past weekend at the Jim Dutcher Memorial Classic hosted by Doane. The native of Torrington, Wyo., put up season best marks in each of his three events while winning event titles in the shot put and discus. Lurz regained the national lead in the shot put with his toss of 56’ 5 ¼”. The 2015 indoor shot put national champion also ranks fourth nationally in the hammer throw (186’ 3”) and fifth in the discus (174’ 1”).

Meanwhile, King continued her domination in the javelin. She won the event at Doane by nearly 13 feet with her throw of 148 feet. The defending javelin national champion currently ranks second nationally with her season best toss of 150’ 5.” The native of Billings, Mont., also checks in at No. 3 on the NAIA national hammer throw list (182’ 7”).

Lurz, King and the rest of the Bulldogs will be in action this week at three different meets. They host the Concordia Mid-Week Challenge on Wednesday (April 22). View the event schedule HERE.

2015 Concordia GPAC athletes of the week
Jan. 28 – Zach Lurz
Feb. 11 – Stephanie Coley
Feb. 18 – Kali Robb*
April 1 – Cody Boellstorff
April 8 – Zach Lurz* and Cassie Starks
April 15 – Cody Boellstorff and Cassie Starks
April 22 – Zach Lurz and Liz King
*NAIA National Field Athlete of the Week

Highly-ranked Bulldogs continue fine outdoor season at own mid-week challenge

By Taylor Mueller

SEWARD, Neb. – Just four days removed from their most recent track meet, the Bulldogs hosted the first ever Concordia Mid-Week challenge as they attempt to achieve and improve conference-qualifying times and marks. The small meet featured three schools, including conference rival Nebraska Wesleyan and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Among the top performances on the night was junior Kim Wood who raced to a first-place finish in 2:15 in the 800 meter run while Sophomore Karissa Segelke took first in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 15.84.

Launching the javelin for a first-place finish was sophomore Katricia Svoboda who marked up at 132’03.” Fellow thrower Kali Robb notched first in the discus with a toss of 148’11.”

Standing out for the men was senior Taiheem Pleasant who took first in the 200 meter dash in 22.18. Junior Trevor Bresson pulled away late in the 400 meter hurdles to take first in 55.17. Junior Josh Slechta edged out the competition by just an inch in the discus throw, taking first with a toss of 149’04” while freshman Ethan Hughes championed the javelin throw with a mark of 157’10.”

Although the meet did not contain every single event, the majority of Concordia athletes will head to Nebraska Wesleyan on Thursday to compete in the Nebraska Wesleyan dual meet. Several athletes will also be making the trip to Des Moines, Iowa, for the prestigious Drake Relays to be held Thursday through Saturday.

Fourteen Bulldogs scheduled to compete at Drake Relays

SEWARD, Neb. – Fourteen standout athletes will represent the top-five nationally-ranked Concordia University track and field programs at the prestigious Drake Relays held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, April 22-26. Bulldog athletes will compete Friday and Saturday (view the schedule at bottom). Of those 14, six are throwers and the other eight will compete as part of relay teams.

Two Concordia competitors set to compete at the Drake Relays top NAIA leaderboards. Sophomore Zach Lurz, the 2015 indoor shot put national champion, leads the NAIA with his shot put mark of 56’ 5 ¼.” Meanwhile, Boellstorff outpaces other NAIA hammer throwers by more than 15 feet with his school record measurement of 205’ 8.”

Defending javelin national champion Liz King and other All-American throwers in Josh Slechta (2015 weight throw national champion) and Kali Robb will also showcase their throwing talents. In addition, sophomore Katricia Svoboda (top 10 nationally in the discus and javelin) will make her first appearance at Drake.

On the track, Both the men’s 4x400 meter relay and women’s 4x400 meter relay will look to breakthrough with national qualifying times. The Concordia women’s quartet features junior Kim Wood (national qualifier in the 800 and 1,500 meter runs) and senior Erika Schroeder (national qualifier in the steeplechase).

For additional details on the Drake Relays, check out the “Relays Central” page HERE.

Friday, April 24
1 p.m. – Women’s discus (Katricia Svoboda)
1 p.m. – Women’s javelin (Liz King)
2:31 p.m. – Men’s 4x400 meter relay prelims (Jaap van Gaalen, Tai Pleasant, Matthew Chapa, CJ Muller)

Saturday, April 25
9 a.m. – Men’s discus (Zach Lurz)
9 a.m. – Women’s hammer throw (Liz King, Kali Robb)
11:05 a.m. – Women’s 4x800 meter relay prelims (Randi Janzen, Kim Wood, Erika Schroeder, Marti Vlasin)
12 p.m. – Men’s hammer throw (Cody Boellstorff, Josh Slechta)
1:30 p.m. – Men’s shot put (Zach Lurz)

Three throwers improve national qualifying marks at NWU Invite

LINCOLN, Neb. – A final tune up meet prior to next week’s conference championships for many Bulldog athletes brought three new season best automatic qualifying marks for Concordia throwers at Thursday’s Nebraska Wesleyan Spring Invite. The small meet held in Lincoln also featured athletes from host Nebraska Wesleyan and the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Recently named the GPAC field athlete for the third time this season, 2015 indoor shot put national champion Zach Lurz unleashed a personal best throw of 192’ 4” in the hammer throw, moving him up to third on the NAIA national list. He placed second to an unattached competitor at the meet and in an event Concordia has dominated. Bulldogs hold down three of the top four spots on the NAIA men’s hammer throw leaderboard.

Freshman Sidney Meyer also produced a PR in the hammer throw with her national qualifying mark of 169’ 8” (10th best in the NAIA). She placed second at Nebraska Wesleyan behind a thrower from Nebraska-Kearney.

In the women’s shot put, junior Stephanie Coley bumped up her season best measurement to 46’ 8 ¾” – also good for a second-place claim. In addition, she finished second and third, respectively, in the discus and hammer throw. Coley ranks fifth on the NAIA national shot put list.

The meet also saw Concordia earn first-place finishes by Randi Janzen (800 meter run), Megan Burma (steeplechase), Katleyn Shoup (triple jump) and Trey Farmer (shot put).

It will be a light weekend for the majority of Bulldog athletes. However, a group of 14 standouts will compete at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, over the next two days. For information on the Drake Relays, click HERE.

King turns in seventh-place javelin finish at Drake Relays

DES MOINES, Iowa – Six of the 14 Bulldogs who made the trip to Des Moines, Iowa, for the annual Drake Relays competed on Friday afternoon. The first wave of Concordia track and field standouts included a pair of female throwers in addition to the men’s 4x400 meter relay. Nine of the 14 Bulldogs will be in action on Saturday (full schedule at bottom).

Defending javelin national champion Liz King acquitted herself well while competing alongside several NCAA Division I throwers. The field of 26 produced six marks better than 150 feet. King came in just under with her throw of 149’ 3,” placing her seventh. That measurement outdistanced athletes from the institutions such as DePaul, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State. King currently ranks second on the NAIA national list in the javelin (150’ 5”). Said throws coach Ed McLaughlin, “She had a solid performance. She didn’t throw at the level she wanted to, but she did what she had to do to place.”

In the college division of the men’s 4x400 meter relay preliminaries, the Concordia quartet placed 20th out of 28 while clocking in at 3:16.65. The group of Jaap van Gaalen, Tai Pleasant, Matthew Chapa and CJ Muller finished just off the automatic national qualifying time of 3:16, but did hit the ‘B’ standard mark of 3:17.

Making her first-ever appearance at the Drake Relays, sophomore Katricia Svoboda recorded a toss of 127’ 7” in the discus. She ranks No. 4 in the NAIA in the event with her personal best of 157’ 6” posted at the UNK Loper Invite on April 4.

Saturday, April 25
9 a.m. – Men’s discus (Zach Lurz)
9 a.m. – Women’s hammer throw (Liz King, Kali Robb)
11:05 a.m. – Women’s 4x800 meter relay prelims (Randi Janzen, Kim Wood, Erika Schroeder, Marti Vlasin)
12 p.m. – Men’s hammer throw (Cody Boellstorff, Josh Slechta)
1:30 p.m. – Men’s shot put (Zach Lurz)

Women’s 4x8 speeds to national qualifying time at Drake Relays

DES MOINES, Iowa – Nine athletes wrapped up the efforts of the Concordia University track and field teams at the Drake Relays on a rain-drenched and windy Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. In one of its final opportunities to hit the automatic national qualifying mark, the Bulldog women’s 4x800 meter relay did just that in highlighting the meet for head coach Kregg Einspahr’s top-five nationally-ranked squads.

Concordia’s women’s 4x800 meter relay featured individual national qualifiers in junior Kim Wood (800 meters; 1,500 meters) and senior Erika Schroeder (3,000 meter steeplechase). They were joined on Saturday by sophomores Randi Janzen and Marti Vlasin. The quartet clocked in at 9:21.83 (eighth place), a time that would place the group fifth among NAIA all 4x800 meter relays entering the weekend.

Wood’s stellar leadoff leg put the Bulldogs in position for their season best time.

“Overall they ran really well,” assistant coach Mark Samuels said. “We were one leg away from a top-four finish. The big thing was getting nationally qualified. Kim did a great job on the leadoff leg. Having a runner who’s been there before and is confident helped the rest of the girls settle in.”

Five different throwers also competed for Concordia on Saturday amidst difficult conditions. Reigning indoor shot put national champion Zach Lurz tested himself in both the shot put and discus. He wrapped up his weekend at Drake with a 12th-place claim in the shot put (54’ 2 ¾”) and a 23rd-place claim in the discus (145’ 9”) while going up against the best of the best.

Both Cody Boellstorff and Josh Slechta took part in the men’s hammer throw. Boellstorff scratched on three throws while Slechta placed 24th with his toss of 156’ 7.” In the women’s hammer throw, junior Liz King slotted in at 24th with a mark of 153’ 6.” In the same event sophomore Kali Robb scratched on her three attempts.

Both Bulldog squads (ranked third nationally on the men’s side and fourth on the women’s side) now have less than a week to prep for the GPAC outdoor championships hosted by Dordt in Sioux Center, Iowa, May 1-2. The Concordia men are the defending indoor champions.

“It’s going to be quite a meet,” Einspahr said. “Our conference is as good or better than it’s ever been. We should be right in the thick of it for both men and women.”

Track and field enters GPAC outdoor championships with usual lofty expectations

Meet info

SEWARD, Neb. – On paper this weekend’s GPAC outdoor track and field championship meet sets up as another battle at the top between rivals Concordia and Doane. Twenty-third year head coach Kregg Einspahr, who has led his squads to 25 combined top-two indoor/outdoor conference finishes during his tenure, expects another successful outing from Bulldog teams ranked No. 3 nationally.

The 2015 event will be held Friday and Saturday with Dordt College hosting the GPAC outdoor championships for the first-time ever. The entire event schedule can be viewed HERE.

“Going back for a number of years now we’ve frequently been in the hunt for first or second with Doane usually as our biggest competitor,” Einspahr said. “That looks like it will be the case this weekend, although Briar Cliff has a very good team that scores out very well on the men’s side and could be a dark horse. It’s shaking out to be a battle for both the men’s and women’s championship. I think we can make a run for it. I think we’ll be right in it.”

Concordia 2015 indoor shot put national champion Zach Lurz is the reigning GPAC outdoor outstanding athlete of the year after he piled up 26 points while winning conference titles in the shot put and discus at the 2014 meet hosted by Doane. Lurz owns top-five national marks in the shot put (No. 1), hammer throw (No. 3) and discus (No. 5) and serves as the leader for a loaded group of Concordia throwers.

The impressive army of throwers has been particularly dominant in the hammer. On the men’s side, school record holder Cody Boellstorff tops the NAIA with his mark of 205’ 8.” Bulldog men hold down seven of the nation’s top 11 in the hammer throw. Similarly, the top 10 of the NAIA women’s hammer throw leaderboard contains six Concordia athletes.

The following Bulldog competitors currently hold GPAC-leading marks/times: Kim Wood (1,500 meter run), Cassie Starks (pole vault), Zach Lurz (discus, shot put), Katricia Svoboda (discus), Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw), Kali Robb (hammer throw) and Liz King (javelin). View the complete GPAC performance lists HERE.

Wood is Concordia’s headlining performer on the track. She won three 2015 GPAC indoor titles (600m, 1,000m and one mile) and is the defending GPAC outdoor champion in the 1,500 meters. She holds national qualifying marks in the 800 and 1,500 meter races and as part of the team’s 4x800 meter relay.

While athletes ranked near the top of the NAIA leaderboard give Concordia big point-scoring potential, the under-the-radar performers may be the ones who decide whether the Bulldogs add to their combined six conference titles in program history.

“I think the athletes who score in the five, second, seven, eight place areas are going to make a big difference,” Einspahr said. “Those are people like Josh Allwardt, Ashley Canfield and Megan Burma. Those kinds of athletes are going to make a huge difference. You have your aces and they usually come out and do about what you expect most of the time.  People that step up and score a couple more points than you expect can give you a three or four point turnaround and make a lot of difference.”

A total of four men’s and three women’s teams within the conference are ranked nationally by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Among all NAIA conferences, the GPAC ranks No. 1 on both the men’s and women’s sides, according to the USTFCCCA. Five different GPAC teams have two or more conference-leading marks: Doane (7), Briar Cliff (6), Concordia (3), Morningside (2) and Northwestern (2). Six women’s teams own two or more No. 1-rated GPAC marks: Concordia (5), Doane (4), Morningside (4), Northwestern (3), Dordt (2) and Hastings (2).

If the rankings are any indication, Sioux Center will feature a showdown between league heavyweights Concordia and Doane.

Says Einspahr, “it will be a dog fight.”

Nationally-ranked GPAC teams
*According to USTFCCCA computer rankings released on April 29

MEN
No. 3 Concordia
No. 7 Doane
No. 12 Briar Cliff
No. 17 Northwestern
WOMEN
No. 3 Concordia
No. 5 Doane
No. 16 Hastings 

Concordia all-time conference titles
MENindoor: 2014 | outdoor: 2014
WOMENindoor: 2010 | outdoor: 1998, 2010, 2012

Concordia all-time conference runner-up finishes
MENindoor: 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 | outdoor: 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013
WOMENindoor: 2003, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015 | outdoor: 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014

King breaks conference record, wins two of four Bulldog GPAC titles on day one

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Liz King broke a GPAC meet record as part of one of her two conference titles and the Bulldog men’s hammer throw nearly swept all eight all-conference placements as part of an impressive first day of the GPAC outdoor track and field championships on Friday. Both Concordia University track and field squads own conference-leading point totals entering day 2 at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, which is serving as host for the first time ever at a GPAC outdoor meet.

Both of head coach Kregg Einspahr’s teams entered the conference championships with No. 3 national rankings. The Bulldogs stand a good chance of capturing the 26th and 27th all-time top-two combined conference finishes in school history. The men have 57.5 points (five events scored) compared to second place Doane’s 28. The Concordia women have totaled 60 points (five events scored). Doane has totaled 42.

“By and large some great things happened today,” Einspahr said. “We had some real good performances in the throws and from Jordan Potrzeba in the 10,000. We came through with some huge points in the men’s hammer throw. To score 37 out of 39 points in one event is outstanding. And Liz King set a new meet record. We got off to a good start.”

Not surprisingly, King, defending national champion in the javelin, won the GPAC javelin title for the third-straight season. She did so with a season best mark of 151 feet, outdistancing the second-place finisher by more than nine feet. Rising to the occasion, King then busted out a GPAC meet record hammer throw of 189’ 10” for another conference title. She now owns conference records in both the javelin and hammer.

Similarly impressive, Bulldog men’s hammer throwers took first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth in a complete wipe out of their conference competition. National event leader Cody Boellstorff won the event with yet another mark over 200 feet (203’ 8”) for his first career conference title. In addition, Zach Lurz (second), Josh Slechta (third), Jose Rojas (fourth) and Trey Farmer (fifth) all eclipsed national qualifying marks as part of all-conference efforts.

Concordia’s other event title on Friday was delivered by Cassie Starks, who continued her huge senior season. She won her second career GPAC pole vault title by clearing 12’ 4 ½” in holding off Michelle Toukan of Hastings. Starks, the program record holder in the indoor and outdoor pole vault, swept GPAC pole vault titles in 2015. The Bulldogs also got a third-place finish in the event from Cynthia Mick (11’ 6 ½”).

Also in the women’s hammer throw, all-conference throws were turned in by Kali Robb (third, 168’ 5”), Kattie Cleveland (sixth, 157’ 8”) and Nicole Perry (eighth, 156’ 11”). Assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s javelin competitors produced two all-GPAC honorees other than King: Katricia Svoboda (fifth, 131’ 2”) and Slechta (164’ 2”).

Potrzeba, lauded by Einspahr, broke through with a second-place 10,000 meter time in 32:59.86 for eight team points. In the same race, teammate Josh Allwardt finished seventh. On the women’s side, freshman Emily Sievert placed fifth in the 10,000 meters (40:19.03).

In the prelims of the 100 meter hurdles, junior Shelby Stolze checked in fourth at 14.81 for a new school record. In the men’s 110 meter hurdles, sophomore Lucas Wiechman places third in 14.89. The finals of both races will take place on Saturday.

In the 4x800 meter relays, the Bulldog women (Marti Vlasen, Erika Schroeder, Randi Janzen, Kim Wood) ran a season best of 9:18.46 for a third-place claim. The Concordia men (CJ Muller, Matthew Chapa, Patrick Wortmann, Jaap Van Gaalen) finished fifth in 7:48.42.

In the multi events, two Concordia women’s heptathletes rank among the top eight heading into Saturday: Karissa Segelke (fourth, 2,681 points) and Ericka Fisher (eighth, 2,206 points). On the men’s side, Lucas Wiechman (second, 3,351 points) and Brandon Ramos (eighth, 2,917 points) are in position to earn all-conference recognition.

The conference championships continue on Saturday with multi events resuming at 9 a.m. Field events pick up at 12 p.m. and running events begin at 12:30 p.m. The awards ceremony is slated to begin at 6 p.m. from Sioux Center. 

Bulldog men repeat as GPAC outdoor champions, women place second

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The floodgates have come pouring open for the Concordia University men’s track and field program. The Bulldogs captured their third GPAC championship over the past two years by putting the paper projections through the shredder. An underdog to Doane, head coach Kregg Einspahr’s men outscored the Tigers by a count of 184.5 – 159 at the 2015 conference meet hosted by Dordt College.

During Einspahr’s tenure, Concordia has now won a combined seven conference track and field titles – four by the women, who placed runner up over this weekend’s two-day meet. The Bulldog women finished with 156 points compared to 225 for Doane.

“Our guys came out after a little bit of disappointment and just put it together,” Einspahr said. “Wow, they wanted it. They wanted to win this as a team. They put together a great meet up and down the line. We had events like the 200 and the 5,000 where we weren’t projected to score.

“We just came out and had a very, very good meet. Today we had a lot of good things happen and not very many disappointments. It’s a big day for us. This is a great track conference.”

The feeling of winning a GPAC title proved especially overwhelming for senior Tai Pleasant, who won his first career individual title by clocking in at 53.70 in the 400 meter hurdles. Pleasant even asked Einspahr if he could borrow the trophy for a night.

“It’s amazing to be able to win two years in a row,” Pleasant said. “After last year, losing a lot of people, to win again and win a GPAC individual title in the 400 hurdles is just amazing. We have a great group of throwers and a great group of sprinters. We came together and won a championship.”

After dominating the men’s hammer throw with seven of the eight all-conference placements (including GPAC champion Cody Boellstorff) on Friday, the Bulldogs got another conference title from Zach Lurz in the shot put (55’ 6 ½”) on Saturday. Concordia racked up 30 points in the event by holding down the top three spots (Jose Rojas – second; Trey Farmer – third) as well as fifth and seventh place.

In the discus, Lurz led the way with his second-place mark (160’ 7”). Bulldog teammates placed fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively (Trey Barnes, Rojas, Josh Slechta) in the same event.

In addition, several athletes emerged on the track for the Concordia men, such as Trevor Bresson (third in the 400 hurdles), Jordan Potrzeba (second in the 10,000 meters), Chris Shelton (second in the steeplechase) and Lucas Wiechman (second in the 110 hurdles). In addition, sophomore CJ Muller placed fourth in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes.

The men’s relays finished fourth (4x400), fifth (4x800) and seventh (4x100) with several competitors who tested themselves with a heavy workload throughout the meet hosted by Dordt. Other notable all-conference efforts were put forth by Wiechman (second in decathlon), Brandon Ramos (sixth in decathlon) and freshman Austin Schafer (sixth in pole vault).

On the women’s side, defending javelin national champion Liz King had Saturday off after a monster day on Friday. The native of Billings, Mont., piled up 20 points with first-place throws in the javelin (151’) and hammer throw (189’ 10”). She now owns GPAC meet records in both events.

“I was a little bit surprised,” King said of her performance in the hammer. “Actually I was a lot surprised. The thing about hammer is you can’t really tell how good it’s going to be until you release it and see how far it goes.”

Another surprise came about in the women’s discus, where junior Kattie Cleveland outflanked her fourth-place conference ranking entering the weekend. She won the event with a throw of 146’ 6.” Sophomores Kali Robb and Katricia Svoboda put up fourth and fifth-place marks in the discus.

On the track, junior Kim Wood came up just short of conference titles in the 800 and 1,500 meter races. She placed runner up in both to Doane’s Jess Sughroue. Wood began the weekend as the defending GPAC champ in the 1,500 meters. Freshman Emily Sievert came up with two individual all-conference times of her own (5,000 and 10,000 meters). A national qualifier already, senior Erika Schroeder finished third in the steeplechase.

Budding junior Shelby Stolze totaled 11 points thanks to top-four finishes in both the 100 and 400 meter hurdles. On Friday she broke the program record for the fastest 100 hurdles time by clocking in at 14.81 in the prelims.

In the relays, the Concordia women were third (4x800), fourth (4x400) and fifth (4x100). Another 13 points came from the women’s shot put with Stephanie Coley headlining the group with her second-place claim (47’ 2 ½”).

“We had a good meet,” Einspahr said of his women’s team. “To finish second in this conference is excellent. It’s a very good accomplishment. We didn’t score out quite as well as we had hoped, but we had some really exciting things happen. Liz King had just a tremendous weekend with her double win in the hammer and javelin.”

Concordia finished with a total of seven combined GPAC individual champions. Cassie Starks also notched her second GPAC title by clearing 12’ 4 ½” in the pole vault.

Einspahr has now guided his programs to a combined 27 top-two conference finishes (all since 1998). Both Concordia squads entered the meet ranked third among all NAIA teams by the USTFCCCA. 

Forty-six Bulldog track athletes officially named all-conference; Einspahr honored

SEWARD, Neb. – A combined total of 46 Concordia University track and field athletes were officially recognized on Wednesday as all-conference honorees based on their performances at the 2015 GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships (May 1-2) hosted by Dordt College. The GPAC awards all-conference accolades to the top eight finishers in each event (see Concordia list at bottom).

In addition, 23rd-year head coach Kregg Einspahr garnered coach of the year honors on the men’s side after guiding the Bulldogs to their third GPAC title in the past two years. In recent years Einspahr has been named 2008, 2009 and 2012 GPAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, 2009 and 2010 GPAC Women’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year, 2009, 2014 GPAC Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year, 2014 GPAC Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year and 2009, 2010 and 2012 GPAC Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year. He has been named a conference or regional coach of the year more than 30 times during his career at Concordia.

The GPAC champion men totaled 38 all-conference performances from 24 different individuals. The list includes conference champions in Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw), Zach Lurz (shot put) and Tai Pleasant (400 meter hurdles). Fourteen Bulldogs notched all-GPAC laurels in two or more events. In addition to his title in the shot put, Lurz placed runner up in both the discus and hammer throw. Lurz was one of six Bulldog male throwers to collect all-conference honors in two or more events.

On the women’s side, Concordia placed 22 athletes in all-conference territory. They combined on 28 total all-GPAC performances. Liz King highlighted the meet with conference titles in both the hammer throw (meet record) and javelin. Thirteen Bulldog females were all-conference in two or more events. Track standout Kim Wood placed runner up in two individual events and collaborated on two all-conference relays.

Concordia will host its annual Twilight Meet on Friday in its final outing prior to the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships (May 21-23).

MEN (24)

  • Josh Allwardt (seventh in 10,000 meter run)
  • Trey Barnes (fourth in discus; seventh in shot put)
  • Cody Boellstorff (first in hammer throw; fifth in shot put)
  • Trevor Bresson (third in 400 hurdles; seventh in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Matthew Chapa (fourth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 800 meter run; fifth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Trey Farmer (third in shot put; fifth in hammer throw)
  • Thomas Hinrichs (fifth in 110 hurdles)
  • Jacob Kettner (seventh in triple jump)
  • Philip Kreutzer (sixth in hammer throw)
  • Zach Lurz (first in shot put; second in discus; second in hammer throw)
  • Chris Mosely-Hendricks (seventh in 4x100 meter relay)
  • CJ Muller (fourth in 200 meter dash and 400 meter dash; fourth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x800 meter relay; seventh in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Tai Pleasant (first in 400 hurdles; fourth in 4x400 meter relay; seventh in 200 meter dash; seventh in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Jordan Potrzeba (second in 10,000 meter run; fourth in 5,000 meter run)
  • Brandon Ramos (sixth in decathlon; seventh in pole vault)
  • Jose Rojas (second in shot put; fourth in hammer throw; fifth in discus)
  • Austin Schafer (sixth in pole vault)
  • Benjamin Schulteis (eighth in hammer throw)
  • Chris Shelton (second in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • Josh Slechta (third in hammer throw; seventh in discus; seventh in javelin)
  • Zachary Spresser (eighth in triple jump)
  • Jaap van Gaalen (fourth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Lucas Wiechman (second in 110 hurdles; second in decathlon)
  • Patrick Wortmann (fifth in 4x800 meter relay)

WOMEN (22)

  • Anna Beune (fifth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Kattie Cleveland (first in discus; sixth in hammer throw)
  • Stephanie Coley (second in shot put)
  • Alayna Daberkow (sixth in 400 meter hurdles)
  • Brittany Erdmann (sixth in shot put)
  • Ericka Fischer (eighth in heptathlon)
  • Randi Janzen (third in 4x800 meter relay; fourth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Liz King (first in hammer throw; first in javelin)
  • Cynthia Mick (third in pole vault)
  • Nicole Perry (eighth in hammer throw)
  • Marielle Plunk (fourth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x100 meter relay; eighth in 400 meter dash)
  • Kali Robb (third in hammer throw; fourth in discus; seventh in shot put)
  • Erika Schroeder (third in 3,000 meter steeplechase; third in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Jill Schroeder (fifth in 4x100 meter relay; eighth in triple jump)
  • Karissa Segelke (fifth in heptathlon)
  • Katelyn Shoup (third in triple jump; eighth in long jump)
  • Emily Sievert (fourth in 5,000 meter run; fifth in 10,000 meter run)
  • Cassie Starks (first in pole vault)
  • Shelby Stolze (third in 400 meter hurdles; fourth in 100 meter hurdles)
  • Katricia Svoboda (fifth in discus; fifth in javelin)
  • Marti Vlasin (third in 4x800 meter relay; fourth in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Kim Wood (second in 800 meter run and 1,500 meter run; third in 4x800 meter relay; fourth in 4x400 meter relay)

Einspahr, Lurz receive national honors; 17 officially named All-Americans

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a national title for the men and a top-five national finish for the women, 17 Concordia University track and field athletes were officially named NAIA All-Americans on Monday. In addition, head coach Kregg Einspahr garnered NAIA men’s outdoor national coach of the year and sophomore Zach Lurz was named the men’s most valuable performer of the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.

Einspahr, also the 2015 GPAC men’s outdoor coach of the year, has guided seven Concordia cross country/track and field teams to national runner-up finishes. The 2015 Bulldog men broke through with Concordia University’s first-ever team national title by tallying 59 points in a three-day meet that came down to the very last event. In his 23-year coaching tenure at Concordia, Einspahr has 16 conference titles (nine cross country, seven track and field) to his credit.

With three All-America performances over the weekend, Lurz totaled 20 points all by himself. He placed runner up in both the hammer throw and shot put and fifth in the discus. A 2015 indoor shot put national champ, the native of Torrington, Wyo., is now a six-time All-American over two years as a Bulldog. He was named the 2014 GPAC outdoor track and field male athlete of the year. A key component of three conference championship teams the past two years, Lurz is a four-time GPAC titlist.

Of the 17 Concordia individual outdoor honorees, four were All-Americans in two or more events: Lurz, Stephanie Coley, Liz King and Lucas Wiechamn. Cody Boellstorff captured a national title in the hammer throw and the Bulldogs recorded six total national runner-up claims. Eight of the 17 All-Americans also posted at least one top-eight finish at the indoor national championships. Four of them are first-time All-Americans.

2015 Concordia outdoor All-Americans

  • Cody Boellstorff, junior
    -Hammer throw (1st)
    -Career All-America honors: 4
  • Matthew Chapa, senior
    -4x400 meter relay (6th)
    -Career All-America honors: 1
  • Stephanie Coley, junior
    -Hammer throw (4th); shot put (6th)
    -Career All-America honors: 6 
  • Brandon Cook, sophomore
    -Decathlon (8th)
    -Career All-America honors: 2
  • Trey Farmer, senior
    -Hammer throw (8th)
    -Career All-America honors: 1 
  • Liz King, junior
    -Javelin (2nd); hammer throw (7th)
    -Career All-America honors: 4 
  • Zach Lurz, sophomore
    -Shot put (2nd); hammer throw (2nd); discus (2nd)
    -Career All-America honors: 6 
  • Cynthia Mick, sophomore
    -Pole vault (2nd)
    -Career All-America honors: 1 
  • CJ Muller, sophomore
    -4x400 meter relay (6th)
    -Career All-America honors: 3 
  • Tai Pleasant, senior
    -4x400 meter relay (6th)
    -Career All-America honors: 2 
  • Brandon Ramos, junior
    -Pole vault (5th)
    -Career All-America honors: 3 
  • Kali Robb, sophomore
    -Hammer throw (2nd)
    -Career All-America honors: 2 
  • Josh Slechta, junior
    -Hammer throw (3rd)
    -Career All-America honors: 2 
  • Cassie Starks, senior
    -Pole vault (5th)
    -Career All-America honors: 2 
  • Katricia Svoboda, sophomore
    -Javelin (7th)
    -Career All-America honors: 1 
  • Jaap van Gaalen, sophomore
    -4x400 meter relay (6th)
    -Career All-America honors: 2
  • Lucas Wiechman, sophomore
    -Decathlon (2nd); pole vault (3rd)
    -Career All-America honors: 3

Concordia track and field grabs media spotlight

SEWARD, Neb. – Back in Seward after winning the first team national title in the history of Concordia University athletics, Bulldog men’s track and field is soaking up media attention. On Tuesday head coach Kregg Einspahr and four different athletes answered questions from a KLKN-TV (Lincoln ABC affiliate) news reporter inside the Walz Fieldhouse.

Even with the national championship trophy resting close by, Einspahr admitted, “Whether it has sunk in yet, I don’t think it has.”

On the TV news story, with Einspahr shown walking away with the hardware nestled by his right arm, the thoughts of sophomore CJ Muller played over the top. Said Muller, “I just couldn’t believe we had done this. Fifteen guys from Nebraska had just won a national championship.”

Muller, national championship meet most valuable performer Zach Lurz, national titlist Cody Boellstorff and All-American Lucas Wiechman all took turns in front of the cameras on Tuesday. Each of the four members of the coaching staff that traveled to Alabama were also on hand. In addition, Einspahr has fielded calls from several news outlets.

In a column that appeared in the Omaha World-Herald on Tuesday morning, Einspahr talked about the desire to win a national championship. He has guided six different Bulldog cross country/track and field teams to national runner-up finishes. “I think anybody who’s been coaching for a long time, it’s an unspoken dream that you’d like to win a national championship,’’ Einspahr told the World-Herald.

What made this national championship all the more sweet was how unexpected it was by most associated with the team. Concordia entered the meet ranked No. 3 by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, but a lot of things had to go right for the Bulldogs to come out on top. Concordia even caught a break on the final race (4x400 meter relay) when fellow national title contender Indiana Tech suffered an injury on its anchor leg.

The turn of events allowed Muller to speed by and clinch the team title. “It's an honor and an incredible experience to be part of Concordia's first national championship team,” Muller said.

The finish to the 4x4 set off a jubilant celebration among Concordia athletes and coaches. Many have used words such as shocked, disbelief, joy and pride in an effort to try to make some sense of the moment.

Said pole vault coach Jason Berry, “Without doubt it is one of the most significant team experiences of my life.”

Added assistant coach Mark Samuels, “To watch that final lap play out was a full range of emotions. Shock and utter disbelief turned to joy, excitement and jubilation. To be able to share those emotions with our coaching staff brought out shear raw emotion. I would call our coaching staff my best friends and reaching the pinnacle of our sport with them was truly memorable.”

As the media attention fades and things settle down, eventually it will sink in. The glitzy trophy and the oversized, vibrantly red national championship banner are there to remind members of the Concordia track and field team, dreams do come true.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Winning the national title, as told by Bulldog coaches/athletes

On May 23 Concordia University men’s track and field celebrated the first team national title in school history. An underdog in the national title race, the Bulldogs led the meet from start to finish and hung onto the No. 1 spot as part of a tightly-bunched topped four. For members of the program, the accomplishment was a dream come true. Several of the 19 coaches/athletes who made the trip to Alabama reflected upon that historic day that saw Concordia raise the banner.

Trey Barnes, Freshman (discus)
Being a national champion is an honor! I never in a million years thought I would have been a part of something this special. It means more being as close to the team as I have gotten. It's fun to compete and was even more fun being able to compete with a large group of Concordia throwers. 

Jason Berry, Assistant Coach (pole vault)
Without doubt it is one of the most significant team experiences of my life. The other was as a senior in high school when I was part of the 1989 Illinois state track & field champion team. But this, as a coach, having my pole vault boys do what they did, what the throwers did, what the multi's did, what the runners did... is simply amazing.

Shock... Joy... Accomplishment... Pride...  I've known Coach Einsphar the longest of any of the assistant coaches. My last years here as an athlete were his first as a coach. I know what he has gone through to build this program. I was excited for him in this moment. Age has granted me a good perspective on the history of this program, we would not be here today if not for his work building this program over the past 20 plus years. Friendships that have formed between the coaching staff is unique, this is something I will cherish for the rest of my life!

I was exceedingly proud of my pole vault boys. They were projected to get only one point in the pole vault. In difficult wind conditions, we worked together to make the adjustments necessary and they both (Brandon Ramos and Lucas Wiechman) either tied or set new personal bests and walked away with 10 points. Without them and the efforts of every guy on the team, this wouldn't have been possible. I'm very proud of these boys!

Matthew Chapa, Senior (4x400 meter relay)
It is very humbling to know that you were a part of something as big as nationals. It is a huge honor being a part of something this big with such skilled athletes. When I heard that we were national champions, it took a little bit to set in. After a while I was so excited that I could hardly think straight. I couldn’t stop smiling knowing that we not only won, but we made history for Concordia. We were in a way, sending a message to everyone that anything is possible through God.

Brandon Cook, Sophomore (decathlon)
Even though track focuses on individual achievement, one person could not do it alone. It took the combined effort of everyone on the team doing their best. If one person would have slacked off we would have lost. With just one person we wouldn't be where we are today.

Kregg Einspahr, Head Coach
I certainly did not project that we would have the lead going into the 4x4. Going into the meet I didn’t think that we had much chance of winning the national title. We had a lot of things go our way. I have to give credit to our kids. They really had a good meet. It’s a dream come true for myself, our coaches and our athletes.

All of the sudden I heard someone gasp in the crowd. The Indiana Tech runner pulled up a bit and CJ put the pedal to the floor. At that point I knew that we were going to win. It’s just an amazing feeling. There were hugs all around. All of us coaches got dumped in the steeplechase pit. We’ve been together as a staff for quite a while. It’s fun to do this with all of them.

I think anybody who’s been coaching for a long time, it’s an unspoken dream that you’d like to win a national championship. It’s always something in the back of your mind you’d like to accomplish. You never know if you are going to have the guns to do it.

Trey Farmer, Senior (hammer throw, shot put)
As a senior it means a lot to be able to go out on top with a championship that was not expected. This opportunity doesn't come around often. It was very unreal. I couldn't believe that it had happened and once I saw CJ pass the Indiana Tech guy, I was just beyond shocked. We worked our tails off and it paid off. I wouldn't have wanted to accomplish it with a different group of people. You train with these guys year round and for some of us, it is the last meet we will ever have. There is nothing like going out on top and it is something that I will be able to talk about for many years.

CJ Muller, Sophomore (400 meters, 4x400 meter relay)
It's an honor and an incredible experience to be part of Concordia's first national championship team!  I am proud to be a part of long lasting tradition. This wouldn't have been possible without the countless number of alums who helped put Concordia on the map and build it up to the programs we have here today.

Receiving the baton for the last lap in the relay I was pretty bummed. I knew even if I ran another ridiculous time, Indiana Tech was out of my striking distance. Once on the back stretch I could see something was wrong, Jon Hester's (Indiana Tech runner) head was bobbing side to side and it wasn't until the other schools passed I saw he had pulled something. It was really an unbelievable moment. I couldn't believe my eyes. That moment I passed him my only goal was to finish the race without screwing up. When I crossed the finish line Stacy (Dahlkoetter, athletic trainer) greeted me with water and I had to ask her if we really had won. When she confirmed with a yes, I was in shock. All of us on the relay were. 

Some things I enjoyed the most were seeing the coaches bubble over with happiness. The amount of time they put into track, the early mornings, late nights and time away from their families paid off. The embraces we shared as a team was of pure joy. Another thing I would like to share is the amount of support we received. Starting the night before, from fellow teammates and friends congratulating us on qualifying to finals. To my parents having 20 people over to watch us on the live webcast. After we won and I was finally able to get on my phone, it had exploded with missed calls and texts from past and present teammates. Twitter was going crazy. I especially loved the support from the other GPAC schools like Doane and Briar Cliff. At the moment I finally realized how big and strong Concordia's family really was. We've said it all year and I'm going to say it once more, DawgStrong!

Tai Pleasant, Senior (400 meter hurdles, 4x400 meter relay)
Winning a national title was amazing. I've been on cloud nine since last Saturday (May 23). I’m glad I got to leave Concordia on the highest note you can leave any school – with a national championship victory. The fact that I contributed to the victory made it even better.

Mark Samuels, Assistant Coach
Being a national championship team is the ultimate goal. It’s something you dream about but never really expect to actually see come true. Fourteen years ago I first stepped on this campus as an athlete not really knowing what Concordia was all about. Now all these years later I know how much this means, not only to our program or coaching staff, but to every Bulldog that has been fortunate enough to compete here. There is a piece of this championship that is theirs. Concordia is a special place with many special people and it's so special to finally bring home a championship to all those that have invested so much. I can't tell you how surreal it is to think back through the years to where the dream was born and watch it come to fruition in the waning moments of the season. A life time of memories flashing before your eyes as you begin to realize what is taking place. Truly remarkable.

To watch that final lap play out was a full range of emotions. Shock and utter disbelief turned to joy, excitement and jubilation. To be able to share those emotions with our coaching staff brought out shear raw emotion. I would call our coaching staff my best friends and reaching the pinnacle of our sport with them was truly memorable. Memories I will never ever forget. I still look at the pictures and videos and can't believe we actually did it. It certainly hasn't sunk in yet. I think the few pictures I attached show what it means more than I can explain in words. They were taken by one of our athletes seconds after the final event was done.

I feel that it is truly an honor to be able to coach the athletes that we do and do it at such a special place like Concordia. Those athletes have made so many sacrifices and put in so much hard work to get to this point. Every Bulldog that has been on our campus through the years laid the foundation for what took place this past weekend. Without all of them we would have never had this opportunity.

I'm still amazed at how well our team competed. I think back to the meet and they put it all out there, but they did it with such confidence and composure. I think it really showed that this group had been there before and believed they could do really well. That experience really showed. I've never seen a team of ours compete at the national meet with such drive and determination. Every event seemed to build off the next. I'm sure it's been done before but certainly not very often a team leads from the very first event all the way to the last. Really, really special to see how well they competed.

Josh Slechta, Junior (hammer throw)
It feels incredible to be a part of a national title winning group. I am honored to call every guy on this team my brother. 

Jaap van Gaalen, Sophomore (4x400 meter relay)
Being part of Concordia's first national championship is something I will never forget and the moment of winning it will last a life time.

Lucas Wiechman, Sophomore (decathlon, pole vault)
Being part of the national champion means I'm part of a team that collectively went the extra mile. We came together as a team and became the perfect underdog story. I was overwhelmed. It was such an amazing experience. All of our hard work had paid off in the greatest way possible.

Starks receives Inspiration Award from National Hemophilia Foundation

SEWARD, Neb. – School record holder and GPAC pole vault champion Cassie Starks has received the Inspiration Award from the Nebraska Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation. The Nebraska Chapter recognized Starks at its Annual Education Conference Extravaganza in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday (May 30).

Starks earned the honor based on her success while living with hemophilia B, which causes people with the rare genetic disorder to bleed longer than those without it. The disorder often makes it more difficult to recover from injury and prevents blood from clotting normally. Cassie’s father Rick shares the disorder. There are roughly 20,000 people in the US with hemophilia – most are males.

“The award means a lot for the fact it recognizes my accomplishments and that have been able to inspire others,” Cassie said. “It was a complete shock to win it. I was just at the conference with my parents. They started to say ‘Concordia University’ and that gave it away.”

One of the greatest pole vaulters in Concordia track and field history, Starks won GPAC indoor and outdoor pole vault titles in 2015. She also broke school pole vault records for indoor and outdoor and claimed a pair of All-America awards.

Nebraska State Legislature congratulates Concordia men's track

SEWARD, Neb. – This week a letter from the Nebraska State Legislature arrived in the inbox of head coach Kregg Einspahr. Nebraska State Legislative Resolution 371 introduced by Senator Mark Kolterman of District 24, congratulated Einspahr and the Concordia men’s track and field team on winning the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field national title.

Addressing Einspahr personally, Kolterman wrote, “I wanted to congratulate you and the entire Concordia Men’s Track and Field team for winning the 2015 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Please accept this legislative resolution as my way of commending you and the team for your accomplishments.”

The legislative resolution was passed by the Legislature of Nebraska in the 104th Legislature, First Session, on May 29 – six days after the Bulldogs held off defending national champion Indiana Tech for the title.

The national championship also attracted the attention of local media. For a rundown, click HERE.

Einspahr tabbed co-State College Coach of the Year

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia head track and field coach Kregg Einspahr has raked in another coaching honor after guiding the men’s program to the first national title for any sport in school history. The 23-year veteran garnered Lincoln Journal Star State College Coach of the Year recognition along with Bulldog head women’s basketball coach Drew Olson, as announced on Monday.

This season Einspahr has also received honors as GPAC men’s outdoor coach of the year and NAIA men’s outdoor national coach of the year. The NAIA and Concordia athletics hall of famer has piled up numerous coaching awards during an impressive career that now includes a national title in addition to 16 GPAC crowns (nine cross country, seven track and field) and six national runner-up finishes. In 1999 Einspahr garnered women’s cross country national coach of the year accolades from the USTFCCCA.

Einspahr is now the first person to ever be named both a state college athlete and coach of the year. A six-time individual national champion on the track, Einspahr notched back-to-back State College Athlete of the Year awards in 1981 and 1982 while competing at Concordia.

Einspahr and Olson become the fifth and sixth Concordia coaches all-time to be honored by the Lincoln Journal Star. They are the first Bulldogs to claim the award since former women’s basketball head coach Todd Voss did so in 2005. Kregg is married to former State College Athlete of the Year Suzanne (Weeder) Einspahr.

All-time Concordia state college coaches of the year
2015 – Kregg Einspahr (track and field) / Drew Olson (women’s basketball)
2005 – Todd Voss (women’s basketball)
1992 – Grant Schmidt (men’s basketball)
1982 – Wayne Rasmussen
1971 – John Seevers

Bulldog throwers garner No. 1 ranking among all NAIA programs

SEWARD, Neb. – According to a formula designed to rank all collegiate throwing programs, assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s group trumped every NAIA group of throwers in 2015. “The Thrower’s Page” formula awarded Concordia 1,093 points, placing it 27th among all collegiate track and field throwing programs in the nation, including all levels of the NCAA.

Concordia male throwers earned a total of 541 points while the women garnered 552. Of the 1,093 points, 754 came during the outdoor season. The Bulldogs scored particularly big in the hammer throw, tallying 372 points from that event.

Those figures helped distance Concordia from rival throwing programs. Doane was the next highly ranked squad from the NAIA, checking in at 113th overall. Other in-state rivals on the list were NCAA Division II in-state opposition such as Wayne State College (72nd) and University of Nebraska-Kearney (199th). Additional NAIA schools to rank in the top 200 nationally were Concordia-Oregon (124th), Olivet Nazarene University (132nd), Grand View University (152nd), Siena Heights University (155th) and Bethel College (Ind.) (182nd).

Throwers played a starring role in the national title for Bulldog men’s outdoor track and field. Zach Lurz piled up 20 points via three All-America performances and received most valuable performer honors for his work at the outdoor national championships. Lurz, also a 2015 indoor shot put national champion, led the way for a group of Concordia throwers that produced a total of three individual national titles, 17 All-America plaques, six GPAC titles, 40 all-conference performances, eight GPAC weekly honors and two NAIA national weekly awards in 2015.

The 2015 work of Concordia throwers continued a tradition of astounding success. Over the past three years, the Bulldogs have ranked fourth (2013), second (2014) and first (2015) in The Thrower’s Page rankings.

According to The Thrower’s Page, “the rankings are based on the final performance lists in each division prior to preliminary or national championships.” The complete explanation of the formula can be found HERE.

Einspahr collects another coach of the year award

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia 23-year coaching veteran Kregg Einspahr has garnered his fourth major coaching honor of the 2015 campaign. On Tuesday the Omaha World-Herald named Einspahr its Midlands College Men’s Coach of the Year. The latest recognition comes roughly a week after he received co-state college coach of the year laurels from the Lincoln Journal Star.

This season Einspahr has also received honors as GPAC men’s outdoor coach of the year and NAIA men’s outdoor national coach of the year. The NAIA and Concordia athletics hall of famer has piled up numerous coaching awards during an impressive career that now includes a national title in addition to 16 GPAC crowns (nine cross country, seven track and field) and six national runner-up finishes. In 1999 Einspahr garnered women’s cross country national coach of the year accolades from the USTFCCCA.

Einspahr is the only Nebraska athletic figure to be named a coach and athlete of the year by both the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald. A six-time individual national champion on the track, Einspahr notched back-to-back State College Athlete of the Year awards in 1981 and 1982 while competing at Concordia. He was also named the Men’s Midlands College Athlete of the Year in 1982.

Einspahr’s honor marks the sixth time a Concordia coach has been tabbed Midlands College Men’s Coach of the Year. Einspahr is the first Bulldog to receive the honor since Grant Schmidt in 2005.

All-time Concordia men’s midlands college coaches of the year
2015 – Kregg Einspahr (track and field)
2005 – Grant Schmidt (men’s basketball)
1992 – Grant Schmidt (men’s basketball)
1982 – Larry Oetting (football) and Wayne Rasmussen (men’s basketball)
1971 – John Seevers (football)

A national title 23 years in the making

NOTE: A version of this story first appeared in the Concordia University Broadcaster magazine.

When Kregg Einspahr returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1992, members of the Concordia University track and field programs kicked up rocks while pacing an on-campus gravel track. Einspahr’s very first Bulldog track teams placed near the bottom of the then Nebraska-Iowa Athletic Conference. In the 23 years since then, the circumstances have been turned completely around.

Says assistant coach Jason Berry, a GPAC pole vault champion and All-American on Einspahr’s first team, “I know what he has gone through to build this program.”

On May 23, 2015, Concordia men’s track and field reached the pinnacle by capturing the first team national title for any sport in school history. In a three-day championship meet in which the outcome rested upon the final event (men’s 4x400 meter relay), the Bulldogs held off a tightly-bunched top four for the No. 1 spot.

After overseeing six combined national runner-up finishes in cross country and track and field, Einsphar had reached the top. He and his tight-knit group of assistants – Berry, Ed McLaughlin and Mark Samuels – watched the 4x4 together. At its dramatic conclusion, they celebrated wildly, hugged and shared in a moment that will never be forgotten.

A year earlier, the men’s program had busted loose with its first-ever conference championships. After breaking down that barrier, the Bulldogs went to work on adding the only thing missing from their trophy case. But they would have been lying to say they expected to win. As underdog title contenders, the unlikelihood of Concordia earning the oversized red championship banner made the moment all the more sweet.

“I think for anybody who’s been coaching for a long time, it’s an unspoken dream that you’d like to win a national championship,’’ Einspahr told the Omaha World-Herald. “It’s always something in the back of your mind you’d like to accomplish. You never know if you are going to have the guns to do it.”

It turned out the heavy artillery came from the likes of meet most valuable performer Zach Lurz and a dominant group of throwers. Einspahr’s 1993 Bulldogs did not possess a single all-conference thrower. But in 2015, McLaughlin’s group of long tossers paved the way for a title. Lurz and company piled up 37 of the team’s 59 points. Most impressive, Lurz was part of a hammer throw squadron, along with national champion Cody Boellstorff, that placed first, second, third and eighth.

The 25 points from the hammer throw alone put Concordia in the driver’s seat for the entire meet. However, the Bulldogs entered the 4x400 meter relay finals with just a two-point lead over Indiana Tech. The quartet from Indiana Tech had finished first in the prelims. A duplicate performance would have leapfrogged the Warriors over Concordia.

The Bulldogs clung to a two-point advantage over Indiana Tech in an excruciatingly close battle. Despite maintaining the lead throughout the weekend, Concordia still found itself an underdog to the defending national champion Warriors. Something no one could have predicted happened next. Just when Indiana Tech appeared poised to win the title, a gasp rang out through the crowd.

“Receiving the baton for the last lap in the relay I was pretty bummed,” Bulldog sophomore CJ Muller said. “I knew even if I ran another ridiculous time, Indiana Tech was out of my striking distance. Once on the back stretch I could see something was wrong, Jon Hester's (Indiana Tech anchor) head was bobbing side to side and it wasn't until the other schools passed I saw he had pulled something. It was really an unbelievable moment.”

Said senior Trey Farmer, “I couldn't believe that it had happened and once I saw CJ pass the Indiana Tech guy, I was just beyond shocked.”

Even days after it had happened, Concordia coaches and athletes struggled for the right words to describe just what it felt like. A Lincoln, Nebraska, TV station arrived in Seward three days following the championship meet. Said Lurz to KLKN-TV, “I can’t even put it into words.”

The ending could not have been any better for seniors like Tai Pleasant, another member of the 4x400 relay. “Winning a national title was amazing. I've been on cloud nine since then,” Pleasant said. “I’m glad I got to leave Concordia on the highest note you can leave any school.”

Beginning with Einspahr’s national title in the 1980 steeplechase, the Concordia men have had 27 individual national championships with Boellstorff being the latest. Behind national titlists TJ Kloster (pole vault) and Brandon Seifert (one mile), the Bulldogs finished as the 2000 indoor national runner up. It was a major breakthrough that helped establish Einspahr’s program as a national power heading into the 21st century.

Since 2005, the Bulldog men own 17 combined top-25 national finishes. During that stretch, they have posted impressive placements of fifth on two occasions and seventh a total of four times. Going into many championship meets Einspahr expects top-10 finishes, but to actually win it? That’s a whole other dynamic that comes with a lot more hardware and hoopla.

Someone with intimate knowledge of Concordia track and field for the past 14 years, Samuels knew the toil involved in the building of a champion.

“Being a national championship team is the ultimate goal,” Samuels said. “It’s something you dream about but never really expect to actually see come true. Fourteen years ago I first stepped on this campus as an athlete not really knowing what Concordia was all about. Now all these years later I know how much this means, not only to our program or coaching staff, but to every Bulldog that has been fortunate enough to compete here. There is a piece of this championship that is theirs.”

The national title dream started on a gravel track and ended with a celebration at Mickey Miller Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala., site of the 2015 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. As Muller told a TV reporter, “I just couldn’t believe we had done this. Fifteen guys from Nebraska had just won a national championship.”

Men’s national championship team
Trey Barnes
Cody Boellstorff
Brock Braniff
Matthew Chapa
Brandon Cook
Trey Farmer
Philip Kreutzer
Zach Lurz
CJ Muller
Tai Pleasant
Brandon Ramos
Jose Rojas
Josh Slechta
Jaap van Gaalen
Lucas Wiechman