2016 Schedule

2016 Meet Results

Sevigne Husker Invite (Feb. 5-6)

Fred Beile Classic (Feb. 6)

Concordia Indoor Invite (Feb. 12)

GPAC Indoor Championships (Feb. 19-20)

NAIA Indoor National Championships (March 3-5)

Hastings Invite (April 2)

Concordia Outdoor Invite (April 9)

Jim Dutcher Memorial (April 22-23)

Drake Relays (April 28-30)

Nebraska Wesleyan Open (April 28)

GPAC Outdoor Championships (May 6-7)

Prairie Wolf Invite (May 13)

Emporia State Twilight (May 14)

NAIA Outdoor National Championships (May 26-28)

2016 Roster

Indoor Performance Lists: Men | Women
Outdoor Performance Lists: Men | Women 

SEASON PREVIEW: Track programs look for encore after banner 2015

At a glance
MEN
Head coach: Kregg Einspahr (24th year)
2015 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2015 outdoor finishes: 1st (GPAC); 1st (NAIA)
2015 All-Americans returning: Cody Boellstorff (*hammer), Matthew Chapa (4x400), Zach Lurz (discus, hammer, *shot, weight), CJ Muller (4x400, *600m), Jose Rojas (shot), Josh Slechta (hammer, *weight), Jaap van Gaalen (4x400), Lucas Wiechman (decathlon, heptathlon, pole vault)
2015 All-Americans lost: Brandon Cook (decathlon, heptathlon), Trey Farmer (hammer), Tai Pleasant (4x400), Brandon Ramos (heptathlon, pole vault)
*National champion

WOMEN
Head coach: Kregg Einspahr (24th year)
2015 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 11th (NAIA)
2015 outdoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2015 All-Americans returning: Stephanie Coley (hammer, shot), Liz King (hammer, javelin), Cynthia Mick (pole vault), Kali Robb (hammer, weight), Katricia Svoboda (javelin), Kim Wood (1,000m)
2015 All-Americans lost: Cassie Starks (pole vault)

Season Outlook
Of the 19 Bulldogs who earned All-America status in either indoor or outdoor track last season, 14 return following a 2015 season that could reasonably referred to as the best ever in program history, especially when considering combined national finishes. The program still buzzes from the surprise outdoor national title the Concordia men celebrated back in May in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Led by 2015 national champions Cody Boellstorff (hammer) and Zach Lurz (shot put), the throwing squad appears poised for another big season for Bulldog teams that look to have greater balance in 2016. The additions of such athletes as freshmen Mackenzie Gravo (pole vault), Samantha Liermann (throws) and a strong group of 800 meter runners will lessen the blow of the few key performers who have moved on.

“We didn’t have huge losses to graduation. We have the basic core back that we had last year,” said 24th-year head coach Kregg Einspahr, the 2015 NAIA men’s outdoor national coach of the year. “I think one more year down the road we’re that much better. Kim Wood for instance is going to be that much better. She’s got a lot more confidence going into her last year here. We have some new faces that are going to really help us as well. I think we’re improved and we do have some new faces that will replace any losses we had to graduation.”

Early indicators have been positive. At the team’s annual Blue-White meet (hosted on Dec. 11), nine different throwers posted national qualifying marks. Lurz, already an eight-time All-American heading into his junior season, headlines the stable of throwers that produced 18 total All-America plaques in 2015. Following the season, “The Thrower’s Page” ranked Concordia as the top throwing program in the NAIA for 2015.

Considering the wealth of experience and accolades contained on the 2016 roster, expectations are appropriately high for what 2014 javelin national champ Liz King and her teammates can accomplish this season. Many of the familiar names are back, including Stephanie Coley, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas, Josh Slechta (2015 weight throw national champion) and Katricia Svoboda – all past All-American long tossers.

“It’s really cool to see how the majority of people that are throwers are upperclassmen now,” King said. “Before we had bigger groups in the freshman and sophomore classes and now it’s grown. Now we’re seniors and juniors. Now we’re hitting our peaks in our progressions. I’m really excited to see how this year turns out. Last year was awesome. We had an incredible amount of success. I hope we can keep going with it.”

The unprecedented work of the throwers powered a program that showed that it really has no limits. The men have won three of the last four GPAC track and field championships and the women have consistently been the top challenger to Doane’s reign at the top. In addition, Bulldog teams finished no lower than 11th at the 2015 indoor and outdoor national championship meets.

There’s been a new standard set that All-American Lucas Wiechman (pole vault, multi-events) says has made for an even more motivated group. “It really shows our potential,” Wiechman said. “We did that last year and I was surprised. Now what can we do if we know we can do it again? It motivates the freshmen coming in seeing how high of a standard we have set.”

Wiechman has been part of unique pipeline from Wisner-Pilger High School, which has also funneled the Buene sisters (Anna and Christine), freshman Samuel Ferguson (mid distance) and Liermann to Concordia. Ferguson and Liermann are new faces that will be afforded the opportunity to make an immediate impact. The same can be said for freshmen Thomas Taylor (distance) and Tori Beran (hurdles). Beran bolsters a hurdles group that includes budding junior Alayna Daberkow, who will focus on track alone this season after also playing basketball her first two years as a Bulldog.

The pole vaulters, coached by assistant Jason Berry, will have a significant say in the heights reached by the 2016 Bulldogs. GPAC champion Cassie Starks has exhausted her eligibility, but the likes of Cynthia Mick and Wiechman provide star power. Berry expects Mick and Gravo to challenge Starks’ school records in the indoor and outdoor pole vault.

On the track, Einspahr knows what he has in standout performers CJ Muller (2015 600-meter All-American) and Wood (2015 1,000-meter All-American). All Wood did at last year’s indoor GPAC meet was win three individual conference titles in a performance Einspahr called one of the most impressive he’d seen in his career. Meanwhile, Muller is the backbone of another stellar men’s 4x400 meter relay that could also feature All-Americans in Matthew Chapa and Jaap van Gaalen.

When looking across the board, Einspahr sees few weaknesses on either of his men’s or women’s teams. Concordia spent the offseason trying to shore up shortcomings on the track and in the jumps. It’s already a high probability that the throws, pole vault and multi-events will be strengths on both sides.

“I think we have a nicely balanced team,” Einspahr said. “We’re going to be strong in a lot of different areas. I think we’re going to be improved in our middle distances. We have some very good long sprinters. I think we’re going to have some points coming in the hurdles. The multi-events are very strong for us. We should be strong in the pole vault. I think our relays are going to be pretty good. In addition to our throws group, I think we’re going to have a number of areas where we score big points in. I think we’re going to be better than last year overall.”

Along with the better overall balance comes a swagger that goes along with the new red national championship banner that hangs in the Fieldhouse.

“As a team I think we have a lot more confidence,” Muller said. “I think we’ve cemented Concordia on the national track stage as a solid team that will come out and compete. We lost a few guys from last year who scored. The freshman class came in and it’s a big class. They’re excited. They saw what we did last year and they want to carry on that tradition. It’s been a real motivator to go out and train the best this fall so we have good results this season again.”

While Einspahr pegs Concordia as a stronger outdoor team, the indoor version of the Bulldogs has typically high expectations. Says Muller, “The goal for track now is always a conference championship.” Both Concordia teams are anxious to get things started nearly seven months after a thrilling finish to 2015.

“That’s where it should be,” King said of the expectations that greet the 2016 Bulldogs. “I think that should be every team’s goal (to win conference championships). You should be competing hard for conference and nationals. You shouldn’t be complacent with winning one meet. I don’t think that’s where our focus should lie. You want to win.”

The season officially gets underway Friday and Saturday (Jan. 15-16) at the Holiday Inn Invitational, which will take place inside the Devaney Center on the University of Nebraska campus. Several Bulldogs will also compete at Saturday’s Nisely Invite hosted by Doane.

Wood places sixth with NAIA qualifying time

The Concordia women’s track team had three student-athletes open their season on Friday. Kim Wood, Jordyn Sturms and Emily Sievert competed in the one mile race at the Holiday Inn Invitational at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Wood placed sixth among 25 runners across all divisions with a time of 5:06.17, which is an NAIA National qualifying time. Sturms finished in 5:31.1, good for 12th place and Sievert finished 15th with a time of 5:41.76.

The trio will join the rest of the men’s and women’s track teams Saturday at the Nisely Invite hosted by Doane College.

Ten Bulldogs qualify for nationals at season-opening Nisely Classic

CRETE, Neb. – The 2016 season kicked off this weekend for the Concordia University track and field programs, which began their quest to build upon stellar 2015 seasons at Saturday’s Scott Nisely Memorial Classic hosted by Doane. Ten Bulldogs combined to record 12 automatic national qualifying marks inside the Fuhrer Field House. In addition, senior Kim Wood turned posted a national championships clinching time for the second-straight day while competing at Nebraska’s Holiday Inn Invitational.

Event titles were claimed by Cody Boellstorff (weight throw and shot put) CJ Muller (200 and 600 meters), Kali Robb (weight throw), Jose Rojas (seeded shot put) and the men’s 4x800 meter relay in a solid opening to the 24th-year season under head coach Kregg Einspahr.

“You have to sit back and realize that it’s the first meet of the season and there’s a lot of time between now and the conference championships,” Einspahr said. “It was kind of what was expected. The veterans know what work needs to be done and come back (from break) ready to go. Some of your younger athletes are figuring stuff out. We had a lot of good things today.”

Wood, winner of three GPAC indoor titles last season, is off to a rousing start in 2016. She placed second out of 22 runners at the Devaney Sports Center by finishing the 600 meter race in a time of 1:35.50. A day earlier Wood raced to a national qualifying time of 5:06.17 in the one mile. After running the 600 in Lincoln, Wood made her way to Crete and ran the leadoff leg in 2:15 as part of the 4x800 meter relay that placed second (9:49.85). Said Einspahr, “She had a great weekend.”

The vaunted group of Bulldog throwers achieved eight national marks on Saturday. Boellstorff hurled the weight throw 59' 8 ¼” in a title-winning effort. Robb shined in both of her events, turning in marks of 56’ 11 ¼” in the weight throw and 46’ 1 ¼” in the shot put. Other national qualifying throwers were Stephanie Coley (shot put), Philip Kreutzer (weight throw), Samantha Liermann (shot put) and Rojas (shot put and weight throw). A national champion in the 2015 indoor shot put, Zach Lurz did not compete at Doane.

On the track, junior CJ Muller highlighted efforts on the men’s side. He turned in an impressive double by winning the 200 and 600 meter races. Said Einspahr, “That’s quite the combination to be able to win those two races.” Muller’s time of 1:21.83 in the 600 represented an automatic mark. The Omaha native earned All-America status in that event a year ago.

A trio of Bulldog pole vaulters shined at the Nisely Classic. McKenzie Gravo, a freshman from Henderson, Nev., cleared 11’ 9,” making her an automatic national qualifier along with teammate Cynthia Mick (11’ 2 ½”). Only six vaulters in program history have topped Gravo’s 11’ 9” jump. On the men’s side, junior Lucas Wiechman finished runner up with his national qualifying mark of 16’ ¾.” Wiechman also placed second in the 60 meter hurdles in a time of 8.38.

Einspahr also credited the performances of the Beune sisters, Christine and Anna. Anna (8.13) and Christine (8.15) placed third and fifth, respectively, in the 60 meter dash. Additionally, Christine ran the 400 meter dash, placing fourth in 1:03.26.

National qualifying marks on Saturday:

  • Women's 4x800 meter relay – 9:49.85 - B mark
  • Cody Boellstorff – weight throw (59' 8 ¼”)
  • Stephanie Coley – shot put (46’ 6 ¾”)
  • McKenzie Gravo – pole vault (11’ 9”)
  • Philip Kreutzer – weight throw (55’ 8 ½”)
  • Samantha Liermann – shot put (46’)
  • Cynthia Mick – pole vault (11’ 2 ½” - B mark)
  • CJ Muller – 600 meters (1:21.83)
  • Kali Robb – shot put (46’ 1 ¼”); weight throw (55’ 11 ¼”)
  • Jose Rojas – shot put (52’ 2”); weight throw (56' 11 ¼”)
  • Benjamin Schulteis – weight throw (53' 8 ½" - B mark)
  • Lucas Wiechman – pole vault (16’ ¾”); 60 meter hurdles (8.38 - B mark)
  • Kim Wood – 600 meters (1:35.50)

The indoor season continues next week with the Prairie Wolf Invite hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan. The meet will take place inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln on Jan. 22.

Muller, Rojas named GPAC Track & Field Athletes of the Week

GPAC Release

SEWARD, Neb. – The GPAC announced the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC track and field athletes of the week Wednesday. Making a clean sweep was Concordia’s men’s team. Senior Jose Rojas grabbed field athlete of the week while junior CJ Muller was named track athlete of the week.

Last weekend at the Nisely Classic, both Rojas and Muller made national qualifying marks in their respective events.

Rojas placed first in the seeded shot put with a national qualifying mark of 52-02 which also ranks fifth on the NAIA national list. In the weight throw, the Arizona native again hit a qualifying mark and placed fourth with a 56-11.25 throw, also fifth on the NAIA list.

Muller finished the 200 meter dash in 22.88 seconds. The Omaha native ran the 600 meters in 1:21.83. He took the title in both events. The 600 meter time was a national qualifying mark and ranks fourth on the NAIA list.

The Bulldog track and field team will return to action on Friday. Concordia will make the short trip to Nebraska Wesleyan for the Prairie Wolf Invite inside the Devaney Center.

Robb, Wood give Bulldogs sweep of GPAC women's track & field honors

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University women’s track and field program has swept GPAC weekly honors. On Wednesday the conference named junior Kali Robb the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Field Athlete of the Week and senior Kim Wood the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Track Athlete of the Week. These are first GPAC track and field honors handed out in 2016.

This is the second career weekly award for Wood (April 2014). Meanwhile, Robb reeled in national and GPAC field athlete of the week recognition in February 2015.

Robb, a native of Sidney, Neb., qualified for nationals in both throwing events at last week’s season-opening Nisely Classic hosted by Doane. The two-time All-American won the weight throw with a toss of 55’ 11 ¼” – a figure that ranks No. 5 among all female competitors in the NAIA. She also recorded a shot put mark of 46’ 1 ¼” that puts her third on the national list and second behind teammate Stephanie Coley on the GPAC leaderboard.

Meanwhile, Wood again starred on the track. The senior from Greeley, Neb., raced to national qualifying times of 5:06.77 in the one mile and 1:35.80 in the 600 meters, putting her just outside of her personal bests. Wood currently leads the nation in the one mile and ranks second in the 600. She also ran a 2:15 leadoff leg for the Concordia 4x800 meter relay that placed second (9:49.85) at the Nisely Classic. In 2015 Wood won three GPAC indoor titles and garnered All-America honors in the indoor 1,000-meter race.

Robb, Wood and the rest of the Bulldogs will return to action on Friday at the Prairie Wolf Invite hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln. The meet schedule can be viewed HERE.

Wood tabbed NAIA national track athlete of the week

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Tabbed the GPAC track athlete earlier in the day, senior Kim Wood earned loftier distinction on Wednesday afternoon when the NAIA named her its national track athlete of the week. It marks the first career national weekly honor for Wood, a three-time All-American and six-time GPAC champion on the track. She’s twice been named a conference athlete of the week in her standout career.

The native of Greeley, Neb., qualified for the indoor national championships in two events while competing at the UNL Holiday Inn Invitational last week. She turned in a NAIA-leading time of 5:06.77 in the one mile and then the next day clocked in at 1:35.80 in the 600 meter race (second best in the NAIA). She also ran a 2:15 leadoff leg for the Concordia 4x800 meter relay that placed second (9:49.85) at the Nisely Classic at Doane on Jan. 16.

Wood begins her final season as a Bulldog as one of the most accomplished runners in program history. She owns school indoor track records in the 800 meters (2:12.25), 1,000 meters (2:12.25) and as part of the 4x800 meter relay (9:12.94). In addition, she owns the school record for the outdoor 800 meter run (2:09.66). She ranks inside the top four on four additional individual program all-time lists. This past fall Wood earned all-conference recognition and qualified for nationals in cross country.

Wood and her teammates will return to action on Friday at the Prairie Wolf Invite set to unfold inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln. The meet schedule can be viewed HERE.

Boellstorff, Lurz and Wood topple school records

LINCOLN, Neb. – Reigning NAIA national track athlete of the week Kim Wood continued to blaze on the track and dynamic throwers Cody Boellstorff and Zach Lurz rattled off big performances in the second outing of the season for Concordia University track and field. Friday’s Prairie Wolf Invite hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan inside the Devaney Sports Center saw three school records broken and Bulldogs combine for six event titles.

Twenty-fourth year head coach Kregg Einspahr liked the improvement he saw in his teams in week two of the indoor season.

“Overall it was pretty good,” Einspahr said. “Our throwers had a very good day and some good things happened on the track. We’re making progress and you’d expect that in the second meet out.”

Wood, a six-time GPAC champion, crushed Rachael Geidel’s 16-year-old school record in the one-mile run by speeding to a first-place time of 4:57.78, making her the first female athlete in Bulldog history to leg out a sub five-minute mile. Wood also owns program indoor records in the 800 and 1,000-meter runs and as part of the 4x800 meter relay. In addition, the native of Greeley, Neb., finished a couple seconds off her program record in the 1,000 meters with a second-place time of 2:55.45. She later ran the leadoff leg for the 4x400 meter relay that placed third.

Gargantuan school record-breaking tosses of 64’ 1” by Boellstorff in the weight throw and 59’ 6 ¼” by Lurz in the shot put highlighted another big day for Bulldog throwers. Boellstorff (outdoor hammer) and Lurz (indoor shot put) captured a national title apiece in 2015. Not only did Lurz win the shot put competition on Friday, he also finished third in the weight throw with an automatic national qualifying mark. “He’s getting out there in some pretty advanced territory with that throw,” Einspahr said of Boellstorff. A native of Waverly, Neb., Boellstorff broke the record previously held by James Refenes (63’ 7 ½”). Meanwhile, Lurz bested the school standard that he had already owned.

The Bulldogs were particularly dominant in the women’s shot put, claiming first, second and fourth in the event. Stephanie Coley took first with her mark of 47’ 4 ½”, a measurement that put her less than three inches off her own school record. Kali Robb (45’ 10 ½”) and Samantha Liermann (43’ 9”) fell in line behind Coley with second and fourth-place efforts, respectively. In the weight throw, senior Kattie Cleveland placed runner up with her national qualifying toss of 55’ 11.” Coley (54’ 3 ¾”) finished fourth in the weight throw. On the men’s side, junior Trey Barnes backed up Lurz with a shot put throw of 51’ 6 ¼” that will send him to the national championships.

For the second-straight week, junior CJ Muller, named GPAC track athlete of the week on Wednesday, came in under the national qualifying time in the 600 meter race. On Friday he set a new personal best with a first-place time of 1:20.26. The Omaha native is also getting closer to the automatic mark in the 200 meter dash. He finished third in that event at the Prairie Wolf Invite, clocking in at 22.62.

Muller closed his day by kick starting a first-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay. Muller ran a 50 flat to lead it off before the baton rotated from Jaap van Gaalen to Trevor Bresson to Nathan Matters. They finished with a time of 3:22.91 (less than a second off the national qualifying mark) to beat out the other 11 relays in the competition. Said Einspahr, “They had an excellent race. That was a great way to finish up the meet.”

Though Cynthia Mick and Lucas Wiechman were sidelined, Ryan Gross broke through in the pole vault with a clearance of 14’ 9.” Einspahr noted the work of Emily Sievert and Jordyn Sturms for their respective fourth and fifth place claims in the one mile. The 2015 men’s outdoor national coach of the year also made mention of Coleman Cogswell and Chris Shelton for their progress on the track.

Based on the national leaderboards entering the day, Boellstorff (weight throw), Coley (shot put), Lurz (shot put) and Wood (1,000 meters and one mile) all own NAIA top-ranked marks.

The Bulldogs will play host next week to the annual Concordia Classic. The 2016 event is set for Friday and Saturday (Jan. 29-30) inside the Walz Fieldhouse. A tentative event schedule can be viewed HERE.

Automatic national qualifying marks achieved on Friday

  • Trey Barnes – shot put (51’ 6 ¼”)
  • Cody Boellstorff – weight throw (64’ 1”)
  • Kattie Cleveland – weight throw (55’ 11”)
  • Stephanie Coley – shot put (47’ 4 ½”); weight throw (54’ 3 ¾”)
  • Philip Kreutzer – weight throw (55’ 2”)
  • Samantha Liermann – shot put (43’ 9”)
  • Zach Lurz – shot put (59’ 6 ¼”); weight throw (59’ 9 ½”)
  • CJ Muller – 600 meter run (1:20.26)
  • Kali Robb – shot put (45’ 10 ½”)
  • Kim Wood – one mile (4:57.78); 1,000 meters (2:55.45)

Top Dawgs putting nation on notice

The current crop of top-of-the-line athletes within the Concordia University track and field programs is about as good as it gets. One could even make the argument that this group has no equal when compared to previous Bulldog editions. The school record book is under relentless assault and both Concordia squads own top-five national team rankings.

Behind the impressive indoor season is a group of ‘Top Dawgs’ capable of holding its own on any level of collegiate competition. They’ve proven it. So unprecedented is the collection of talent that it has 24th-year head coach Kregg Einspahr jogging his memory bank.

“I don’t know that we’ve had a year where we’ve had this many leading events in the NAIA,” Einspahr said. “I can’t remember a time. I know there have been times where we’ve had a number of athletes in the top three. To have that many leading events right now is pretty remarkable. Those are good marks. It’s not like it’s a down year. Those would be leading in any year. It’s pretty exciting to see that.”

A quartet of star Bulldog athletes entered this week with program-record marks that currently lead the NAIA. The throwers have continued their dominance with top-ranked measurements presently owned by the likes of Cody Boellstorff (weight throw), Stephanie Coley (shot put) and Zach Lurz (shot put). On the track, Kim Wood keeps pushing beyond the borders of ridiculousness and sits No. 1 on the national list in the mile.

Boellstorff, Lurz and Wood have each been named NAIA national athletes of the week since mid-January. Just two days after receiving national recognition, Boellstorff, a Waverly, Neb., native, unleashed a massive weight throw toss of 68’ 4 ½” to win the competition at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invite on Feb. 5. That performance stunned a field loaded with NCAA Division I long tossers. Says Boellstorff, “I definitely had to double take and make sure that I wasn’t just seeing things. I was shocked.”

Lurz, also a participant in the competition, couldn’t hide his excitement for a teammate that has helped push his own results to greater heights. Admittedly intimidated, Boellstorff outgunned 6-foot-9 runner up Alan Zapalac of the University of Texas.

“I made a couple kids mad because I started clapping and I had chalk all over my hands,” Lurz said. “I pulled a LeBron James and they were all upset. I freaked out watching him drop that. Watching it go through the ring it didn’t look tech-wise like it was going to be a huge throw. It just kept flying.”

Unsatisfied with a ‘mere’ sub five-minute mile, Wood went back to work a day after Boellstorff made waves at the Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. Wood slashed more than six seconds off her mile, finishing in a blazing fast 4:51.61. According to her head coach, Wood is training as well as anyone Concordia female runner in Einspahr’s tenure at the helm of Concordia track and field.

Wood now brims with confidence after using the early parts of her collegiate career to adjust to running longer distances. The amazing Wood ranks in the top 10 nationally in four events, including three times that land among the top three. The native of Greeley, Neb., raised eyebrows a year ago by winning three individual GPAC indoor titles in roughly a two-hour span. She’s even better now.

“I am surprised,” Wood said of her collection of lofty national rankings. “I never expected when I came here that this would be happening. I volunteered for cross country so I’d get in better shape for track. I remember my freshman year how intimidated I was and looking up to the team thinking, ‘oh my gosh they’re so good. I wish I could be that good someday.’ Leading the nation shows that the work’s paid off. It’s just incredible.”

While Lurz’s personal best last week in the weight throw was overshadowed by his teammate’s eye-popping hurl, Boellstorff admits that Lurz “does his fair share to embarrass me in the shot put.” Already one of the most accomplished throwers in program history, Lurz has a laundry list of big-time honors, such as NAIA national performer of the meet as part of last year’s outdoor national team title run. The native of Chadron, Neb., tops the shot put leaderboard by nearly three feet and is the defending indoor shot put national champ.

Lurz is one of the headliners for a group of Concordia throwers that owns 12 marks that rank inside the top 10 of the NAIA national leaderboard. Success has bred more success among assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s crew.

“It’s awesome,” Lurz said. “Seeing national level competition and throwing against Cody every day pushes me and I try to do my best to push him. Then he throws seven feet farther than me in a meet. We push each other. We feed off each other’s energy. When one throws well you’ll see the other throw well. When somebody opens up with a big one everybody keeps trying to outdo each other. All it does is make the team better.”

Kali Robb has done plenty to distinguish herself among Concordia female throwers, but it’s Coley who has risen to the top of the school all-time list and national leaderboard in the shot put. However, Coley’s seen enough to know that her own record is “not going to last long.” After all, she’s leading Robb by less than an eyelash in the shot.

In some ways it’s been a fairytale for the six-time All-American from Gering, Neb. She placed as high as fourth in a national championship event in 2015, but her perch atop the national leaderboard is rarified air.

“It’s actually kind of unbelievable for me,” Coley said. “The past few years it seemed like a further stretch than I thought it was. It’s very exciting that I’ve gotten to that level and I appreciate everything the coaching staff and my teammates have given me in support.”

Concordia’s fearsome foursome, along with several other standouts such as junior CJ Muller, has put the nation on notice. The Top Dawgs won’t back down from the NAIA’s best – or even NCAA Division I competitors. Led by its star power, Bulldog track and field is again a national player.

Wood reels in second GPAC weekly honor of 2016

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time this season, senior Kim Wood has garnered GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Female Track Athlete of the Week accolades. This marks the ninth time that a Concordia track and field athlete has received a GPAC weekly honor in 2016. Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s programs entered this week having produced a national weekly award winner in three-straight weeks.

Wood takes this week’s honors thanks to another sub-five minutes mile turned in at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invite on Feb. 6. She slashed more than six seconds off her previous school record time in the event by clocking in at 4:51.61. The native of Greeley, Neb., ranks No. 1 in the NAIA in the one mile and also owns an additional three times that rank inside the top 10 nationally. In addition to her program record in the one mile, Wood owns school indoor standards in the 800 and 1,000 meter runs and as part of the 4x800 meter relay.

Wood and company return to action Friday for the final home meet of the 2016 indoor season. The annual Concordia Invite is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CT. View the event schedule HERE.

Wood’s 2016 NAIA national ranks
600 meters: 7th (1:35.80)
800 meters: 2nd (2:11.03)
1,000 meters: 3rd (2:55.95)
1 mile: 1st (4:52.21) 

2016 Concordia GPAC athletes of the week
Feb. 10 – Kim Wood
Feb. 3 – *Cody Boellstorff, Stephanie Coley, CJ Muller
Jan. 27 – *Zach Lurz
Jan. 20 – CJ Muller, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas, *Kim Wood

GPAC names Boellstorff Field Athlete of the Week

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Cody Boellstorff has been named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Male Field Athlete of the Week announced by the league office Wednesday. This is Boellstorff’s second weekly conference recognition. This marks the 10th Bulldog to receive the accolades in 2016.

Boellstorff leads the NAIA in the weight throw by over seven feet after improving his mark to 68’ 9 ¼” at the Concordia Invite last week. The toss bested the junior’s previous school record. At the Concordia Invite, Boellstorff also registered a throw of 51’ 7” in the shot put which ranks 16th in the NAIA and is another NAIA qualifying mark.

Boellstorff and the Bulldogs will return to action this weekend at the GPAC Championships. The women’s pentathlon and men’s heptathlon will begin on Friday at the Fuhrer Field House in Crete, Neb. On Saturday, all the other events will begin at 1 p.m. at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb. A full schedule can be found HERE

2016 Concordia GPAC athletes of the week
Feb. 17 – Cody Boellstorf
Feb. 10 – Kim Wood
Feb. 3 -- *Cody Boellstorff, Stephanie Coley, CJ Muller
Jan. 27 -- *Zach Lurz
Jan. 20 – CJ Muller, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas, *Kim Wood

Wiechman runner up after day one of GPAC championships

CRETE, Neb. – The 2016 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships opened up on Friday with multi events taking place inside the Fuhrer Fieldhouse on the Doane College campus. With four of seven events complete in the men’s heptathlon, Concordia junior Lucas Wiechman sits in second place. Sophomore Alayna Daberkow highlighted efforts for the fifth-ranked Bulldog women with a seventh-place all-conference finish in the pentathlon.

Wiechman, a 2015 All-American in the heptathlon, posted personal bests in the 60 meter dash (7.16) and the high jump (6’ 1 ¼”) as part of his rock solid first day. With 2,803 points, the native of Pilger, Neb., is second only to Doane’s Kale Wolken (3,017 points). The 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meter run will be contested on Saturday to round out the heptathlon. Junior Thomas Matik, currently in 12th place, is also representing Concordia in the heptathlon at the GPAC meet.

On the women’s side, Daberkow’s performance netted two team points. The native of Madison, Neb., set a new personal best with 3,116 points in the pentathlon. She won the 800 meter race with a time of 2:23.43. Teammate Anna Beune placed 13th with 2,219 points. Her highest finish came in the long jump (17’ 1 ¼”), an event she took second in.

Both Concordia teams entered the meet with aspirations of top-two finishes in the conference. Said 24th-year head coach Kregg Einspahr, “I’d like to think that on a consistent basis we can be in the top three at the conference championship. We’ll see how things shake out.”

Action from the 2016 GPAC championships heats up on Saturday with the bulk of the meet playing out inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. Multi events will conclude inside the Fuhrer Fieldhouse in Crete. To view the complete event schedule, click HERE.

Women named conference runner-up, men place third at GPAC meet

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Concordia track and field teams competed at the GPAC indoor meet on Saturday at the Devaney Center. The women’s team finished second with 140.83 points while the men finished third with 112.5 points. Kim Wood was named the most outstanding female athlete after breaking three meet records and scoring 41 points.

Head coach Kregg Einspahr said, “We had a very good day today. We scored out just ahead of where we supposed to for both the men and women. We had some really outstanding performaces. I was very happy and pleased with the team, they came out put toghether a good meet. They did really well all across the board. You name it, we had a good day. As far as I can recolect, I’ve never seen someone win four events in a row like Kim did at the conference meet. She set three conference records-what an unbielevable performance. The throwers had a good day with Boellstorff and his new school record. CJ had a really good 600 and Emilly Siever had a good day in her races. I’m pretty thrilled with how the day went.”

Wood won all four of her individual events and was on the 4x400 meter relay team that placed fifth. The senior broke meet records in the 600 meters (1:32.92), the 1,000 meters (2:57.00) and the mile run (4:51.41). She also won the 800 meters with a time of 2:18.26. The 600 meter and mile times were also new school records.

Wood said, “It was a really crazy day. A lot of it was being mentally strong. Before every race I just told myself I’m strong and I can do it. I had to convice myself I wouldn’t be tired...It’s a really great feeling. After all these years and all the mileage and all the hard work, being able to contribute to the team that much and helping out is a good feeling being able to represent Concordia like that. I’m very blessed and very lucky.”

Also setting new meet records were Kali Robb in the weight throw and Zach Lurz in the shot put. Robb registerd a toss of 62-01.75 for first place. In the men’s shot put, Lurz hit 59-03.50 to take the conference title.

Robb said, “It all depended on practice this week, it went pretty well this week so that turns over to a better meet week. I have to stay focused and do what I’m supposed to. I have to be nit picky about the little things and do what the coaches tell me to do.”

Emily Sievert placed second in the 5,000 meters with a time of 18:11.37 and finished the 3,000 meters in 10:29.66, good for third place. CJ Muller took the GPAC title in the 600 meters with a time of 1:20.83.

The Bulldogs took first, second and fifth in the women’s pole vault. Freshman McKenzie Gravo won the women’s pole vault clearing 12-02.75. Allison Brooks tied for second after vaulting 11-05 while Cynthia Mick cleared 11-10 to tie for fifth.

The women’s shot put and weight throw was dominated by Concordia. Stephanie Coley set a new school record in the shot put and took first place with a hurl of 48-01.75. Robb placed third (46-02.75) while Samantha Liermann finished in fourth (45-07.25). In the weight throw, Robb placed first with a new meet and school record with a mark of 62-01.75.

In addition to Lurz’s meet record in the shot put, four other Bulldogs placed high enough to contribute team points. Jose Rojas registered a throw of 55-01.50 for second, Cody Boellstorff checked in fifth with a mark of 51-06.75, Trey Barnes turned in a mark of 50-09.50 for seventh and checking in at eighth was Philip Kreutzer with a throw of 50-07.50.

In the men’s weight throw, Boellstorff took the title, throwing the weight 68-10.50 which is another school record. Lurz took second with a mark of 63-04.75. Concordia took fourth through sixth places in the event.

Lucas Wiechmann finished second in the two day heptathlon. Wiechmann finished with 4,922 points. Day two of the event consisted of the 60 meter hurdles, the pole vault and the 1,000 meters.

The Concordia track and field teams will be competing in the NAIA Indoor meet March 3-5 in Johnson City, Tenn.

How Wood achieved unprecedented GPAC quadruple; thrower domination

Feeling under the weather, you say? Ain’t nobody got time for that – especially not on the day of the GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“She sat right in back of me on the team bus going to the meet. I said, ‘Oh golly, sounds like Kim’s sick.’ And she was,” said head coach Kregg Einspahr of his standout runner Kim Wood. “She was hacking left and right behind me. I was thinking, ‘we don’t need this today.’

Several hours later Wood sat down for a bite to eat after blazing to four GPAC titles on the track, three of which came in meet record times. In a short eight-second clip tweeted by former teammate Erika Schroeder, Wood was asked, “Do you get tired?” In replying the way only she can, Wood retorted, “Sometimes when I’m sleeping I get tired.”

It was a light moment, one laced with the humility and light-hearted nature that characterize Wood. She draws people in her with her inviting personality and with her performances on the track that will soon become the stuff of legend. By totaling 41 points and speeding to four conference titles in less than three hours on Feb. 20, the native of Greeley, Neb., locked up GPAC Female Athlete of the Meet honors and forever a residence in Bulldog folklore.

Said a frog-throated Wood after the meet, “It was a really crazy day. I think a lot of it was just being mentally strong. Before every race I just told myself, ‘I’m strong. I can do it.’ It was about convincing myself I wasn’t tired.”

But of course she was tired, under the weather and perhaps not even sure how to put her own performance into proper perspective. Let’s leave that to the head coach of more than 23 years.

“She came out and put on quite a show,” Einspahr said. “The records she broke – you know the old cliché – she made it look easy. When I look at the records she broke and who held those, every one of those individuals were great runners and great competitors in the GPAC and she just blew those records away.”

And on it goes.

Einspahr continued, “I don’t think that’s ever been attempted in the old NIAC or the GPAC. I’m quite certain no one ever won all four races. That’s four races in a span of under three hours. That is just an unbelievable accomplishment for her. That will stand for a long, long time and be remembered by a lot of people. I know there were a lot of coaches that were pretty amazed by that. First I think they were surprised that she was entered in four events so close together like that. Then the way that she dominated those events was quite remarkable.”

Wood’s day started out with the one-mile race at 3:30 p.m. inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln. Wood would not have the benefit of loafing it to a first-place time while up against another mega star in Doane’s Marissa DeWispelare, who pushed the pace right from the opening gun. Wood held her off by nearly two seconds for win No. 1 and her first meet record of the day.

Wood had about an hour before returning to the track for the 600 meter run. Seeded No. 1 by more than three seconds, Wood broke her own program record as well as the meet record in taking first by a fairly comfortable margin. Fortunately she was out in front of an entanglement that resulted in two runners falling to the floor. Crisis averted. Chalk up win No. 2.

Just over an hour later came the 800 meter race. Another GPAC record was probably out of the question with her final individual event scheduled for thirty minutes later. As Einspahr called it, Wood ran a “tactical race,” and recovered after nearly being tripped up. This time Wood won by less than a second and in roughly seven seconds slower than her seeded time. No matter. Win No. 3.

One more to go and Wood would have accomplished the ludicrous, the are-you-for-real-right-now sort of moment that makes sports so captivating. Though she still had the 4x400 meter race on her horizon, Wood was ready to give everything she had left. Using her laser-like focus and unflappable mental game, she did the unthinkable and broke a third GPAC meet record, this time outkicking another worthy competitor from Doane.

Wood had suddenly entered a new realm, one fit for legends only. She answered any questions about her ability to complete a grueling quadruple in the affirmative. Did she have any reservations about the workload? “No,” Einspahr replied without hesitation.

A little sniffle failed to stop the amazing Kim Wood.

Throwers sweep GPAC titles

As part of a theme of incredible individual efforts by Bulldog athletes, Concordia also broke two meet records in the throws thanks to the efforts of Zach Lurz (59’ 3 ½”) in the shot put and Kali Robb (62’ 1 ¾”) in the weight throw (now the school record). Assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s crew swept all four men’s and women’s GPAC throwing titles while dominating the finals of the conference championships.

“We just had a tremendous meet in the throws,” Einspahr said. “What depth that we have. Coach McLaughlin has done a great job developing that group. I can’t give them enough credit. Those are some outstanding marks.”

Lurz and Robb were joined by Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Stephanie Coley (shot put) as GPAC titlists. Boellstorff pushed his NAIA-leading and school record weight throw mark to 68’ 10 ½”, which qualifies him for the USATF Indoor Track & Field National Championships set for March 11-12. Boellstorff (weight throw), Coley (weight throw) and Lurz (shot put) each own one NAIA top-ranked mark heading into the national championships next week.

Overwhelming was the number of total all-conference placements recorded by McLaughlin’s group. They took 18 of 32 total all-conference positions (top eight in each event) in the throws. Below is a breakdown of those all-conference placements. The Bulldog men were particularly dominant, garnering 11 of 16 all-conference throwing awards.

Concordia all-conference throwing placements
Men’s shot put: 1-2-5-7-8
Men’s weight throw: 1-2-4-5-6-8
Women’s shot put: 1-3-4
Women’s weight throw: 1-3-5-6

Wood receives high honor; 39 Bulldogs officially named all-conference

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Senior Kim Wood reeled in another significant honor and a combined 39 Concordia men’s and women’s track and field athletes were officially acknowledged on Wednesday as GPAC all-conference honorees based on top-eight placements at the 2016 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships (Feb. 19-20). The complete list of all-conference Bulldogs can be viewed at bottom.

The GPAC runner-up Concordia women were led by the five all-conference claims produced by Wood, who on Wednesday garnered the women’s Most Outstanding Performance of the Meet award (voted on by league coaches) for her unprecedented work over the weekend. Wood won four GPAC titles and broke three meet records. She totaled 41 points on the way to winning Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Indoor Track and Field Outstanding Athlete of the Year recognition.

In sum, 18 Bulldog all-conference female athletes totaled 23 all-GPAC performances. Wood was one of eight to earn all-conference recognition in more than one event. In addition, Kali Robb broke the conference meet record in the weight throw.

For the third-place Concordia men, 21 athletes received recognition. Cody Boellstorff, Zach Lurz and CJ Muller claimed one event title apiece to headline their efforts. Boellstorff increased his NAIA-leading and school record mark in the weight throw while Lurz set a new GPAC indoor standard in the shot put. The Bulldog men thoroughly dominated the weight throw, holding down six of the eight all-conference placements. They also earned five all-conference honors in the shot put.

Other event titles were recorded by Stephanie Coley (shot put) and McKenzie Gravo (pole vault). Runner-up finishes were turned in by Allison Brooks (pole vault), Lurz (weight throw), Jose Rojas (shot put), Emily Sievert (5,000 meter run) and Lucas Wiechman (heptathlon).

The 2016 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships will take place at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field in Johnson City, Tenn., March 3-5. The NAIA will officially announce the field of national qualifiers on Friday.

MEN (21)

  • Trey Barnes (seventh in shot put)
  • Cody Boellstorff (first in weight throw; fifth in shot put)
  • Trevor Bresson (third in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Samuel Ferguson (fourth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Ryan Gross (sixth in pole vault)
  • Jacob Kettner (fifth in triple jump; fifth in weight throw)
  • Philip Kreutzer (eighth in shot put)
  • Zach Lurz (first in shot put; second in weight throw)
  • Nathan Matters (third in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Josiah McAllister (fourth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • CJ Muller (first in 600 meter run; third in 4x400 meter relay; eighth in 200 meter dash)
  • Jordan Potrzeba (sixth in 5,000 meter run)
  • Tyrell Reichert (eighth in pole vault)
  • Jose Rojas (second in shot put; fourth in weight throw)
  • Austin Schafer (seventh in pole vault)
  • Ben Schulteis (eighth in weight throw)
  • Josh Slechta (sixth in weight throw)
  • Thomas Taylor (fourth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Jaap van Gaalen (third in 4x400 meter relay; sixth in 600 meter run)
  • Lucas Wiechman (second in heptathlon; third in pole vault; fourth in 60 meter hurdles)
  • Patrick Wortmann (fourth in 4x800 meter relay)

WOMEN (18)

  • Christine Beune (fifth in 4x400 meter relay; seventh in 60 meter dash)
  • Allison Brooks (second in pole vault)
  • Kattie Cleveland (fifth in weight throw)
  • Stephanie Coley (first in shot put; third in weight throw)
  • Kelsey Crymble (third in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Alayna Daberkow (third in 4x800 meter relay; fifth in 4x400 meter relay; seventh in pentathlon; eighth in 800 meter run)
  • Talitha Elbert (third in 4x800 meter relay; seventh in 600 meter run)
  • McKenzie Gravo (first in pole vault)
  • Bri Hallmark (eighth in 600 meter run)
  • Liz King (sixth in weight throw)
  • Samantha Liermann (fourth in shot put)
  • Cynthia Mick (fifth in pole vault)
  • Kali Robb (first in weight throw; third in shot put)
  • Jill Schroeder (seventh in triple jump)
  • Katelyn Shoup (sixth in triple jump)
  • Emily Sievert (second in 5,000 meter run; third in 3,000 meter run)
  • Marti Vlasin (third in 4x800 meter relay; fifth in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Kim Wood (first in 600 meter run; first in 800 meter run; first in 1,000 meter run; first in one mile run; fifth in 4x400 meter relay)

Wood runs down second NAIA national weekly honor

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – The awards kept coming on Wednesday for Kim Wood, Concordia’s extraordinary runner. The latest honor came courtesy of the NAIA, which tabbed Wood as its National Indoor Track Athlete of the Week. The native of Greeley, Neb., received the same accolade on Jan. 20. This marks the 11th weekly award garnered by the Bulldog track and field programs in 2016.

Wood is a worthy choice for national recognition following arguably the most impressive conference meet ever turned in by a Concordia track and field athlete. Wood won four GPAC titles (600m, 800m, 1,000m and one mile) while breaking conference indoor meet records in three of those events. For her efforts, Wood received GPAC Outstanding Athlete of the Year and GPAC Outstanding Performance of the Meet awards.

While Wood owns four times that rank in the top four on the NAIA national list, she’s expected to focus on two individual events at next week’s national meet. The 2016 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships are set for March 3-5 at at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field in Johnson City, Tenn.

2016 Concordia GPAC athletes of the week
Feb. 24 – *Kim Wood
Feb. 17 – Cody Boellstorf
Feb. 10 – Kim Wood
Feb. 3 -- *Cody Boellstorff, Stephanie Coley, CJ Muller
Jan. 27 -- *Zach Lurz
Jan. 20 – CJ Muller, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas, *Kim Wood
*Indicates national athlete of the week

Lurz, Wood recognized as USTFCCCA regional athletes of the year

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia University track and field standouts Zach Lurz and Kim Wood continue to be showered in prestigious awards. On Thursday the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named Lurz its Midwest Regional Men’s Field Athlete of the Year and Wood the Midwest Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. Each of the five regions honored both genders’ top track athletes and field athletes, and the top men’s and women’s head coaches and assistant coaches.

It’s been a historical week for Wood, who is fresh off four conference titles and three meet records at last week’s GPAC indoor championship meet. The native of Greeley, Neb., totaled 41 points and garnered GPAC Female Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year and GPAC Female Outstanding Performance of the Meet honors for her unprecedented quadruple win on the track. The on Wednesday she was also named the NAIA National Track Athlete of the Year for the second time this season. Wood currently owns four times that rank inside the top four on the NAIA national list.

Lurz, named NAIA most valuable performer in leading the Bulldog men to an outdoor national team national championship in 2015, claimed the GPAC title last week in the shot put with his meet record toss of 59’ 3 ½”. He also placed runner up in the weight throw with a personal best toss of 63’ 4 ¾.” Lurz currently ranks No. 1 nationally in the shot put and second in the weight throw. He’s the defending indoor national champion in the shot put. Lurz is a four-time GPAC champion in the shot put. He was named the NAIA’s indoor field athlete of the week on Jan. 27.

Lurz, Wood and the rest of head coach Kregg Einspahr’s Bulldog national qualifiers will head to the national championships in Johnson City, Tenn., next week. The annual event will take place March 3-5 at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field.

McLaughlin sweeps Midwest regional assistant coaching honors

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Instrumental in taking Concordia’s throws group to new heights, assistant coach Ed McLaughlin received worthy accolades from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Thursday. McLaughlin earned Midwest regional honors for both Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year and Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year from the USTFCCCA. Honors were based solely on the 2016 indoor track and field season.

The honors come fittingly after McLaughlin’s throwers dominated the GPAC indoor meet last week. Concordia swept shot put and weight throw titles on both the men’s and women’s sides while Zach Lurz (shot put) and Kali Robb (weight throw) broke GPAC meet records. As part of the impressive meet, Concordia throwers went 1-2-5-7-8 in the men’s shot put, 1-2-4-5-6-8 in the men’s weight throw, 1-3-4 in the women’s shot put and 1-3-5-6 in the women’s weight throw.

An army of McLaughlin’s throwers are set to travel to next week’s national championships in Johnson City, Tenn. On the men’s side, five Bulldogs will compete in the shot put and six will take part in the weight throw. On the women’s side, Concordia will have three competitors in the shot put and four in the weight throw at the national championships. Cody Boellstorff (weight throw), Stephanie Coley (shot put) and Lurz (shot put) are all current NAIA national leaders.

In recent years, McLaughlin has guided four individual national champions, beginning with Liz King in the javelin (2014). Then in 2015, Lurz (shot put) and Josh Slechta (weight throw) won indoor national titles and Boellstorff (hammer throw) captured an outdoor NAIA championship. Throwers totaled 37 of 59 team points as the Concordia men won the 2015 NAIA outdoor team national title. Following the 2015 track and field season, “The Thrower’s Page” statistical formula ranked Concordia throwers No. 1 in the NAIA and No. 27 among all collegiate institutions (including all levels of the NCAA).

In his 19th season as an assistant coach for the Concordia University track and field program, McLaughlin has tutored 74 All-Americans, 36 GPAC champions and 12 national runner-up finishers, in addition to the four national champions. In 2015 Lurz was named the NAIA most valuable performer of the outdoor national championships.

Thirty-one Bulldogs set to journey to Johnson City

SEWARD, Neb. – In conjunction with the NAIA release of official national qualifiers, the Concordia University track and field program has unveiled its list of 31 athletes who will travel to Johnson City, Tenn., for next week’s 2016 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. The grand event will take place March 3-5 at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field.

The Bulldogs, ranked fourth nationally for both men and women, will take a large group of throwers to the national championships, including a pair of defending national titlists in Zach Lurz (shot put) and Josh Slechta (weight throw). Slechta will have to overcome his own teammate in national leader Cody Boellstorff (68’ 10 ½”) if he hopes to win another championship. Boellstorff, Lurz and Stephanie Coley each enter the national championships with NAIA-leading marks.

The headliner on the track is senior Kim Wood, named the Midwest regional Women’s Track Athlete of the Year on Thursday. Wood qualified for nationals in four individual events but will focus on the 1,000 meter and one-mile runs next week. Wood will seek a national title after finishing as a runner up in the 1,000 meters in 2015. She owns four times that rank inside the top four on the NAIA national list.

Concordia’s 31 national-bound athletes have a combined 40 All-America honors. Lurz owns the most with seven to his credit. Ten of the 30 Bulldogs have multiple All-America claims.

At last year’s indoor national championships in Geneva, Ohio, the Concordia men placed fifth and the women 11th. Since 2000, the Bulldog men have recorded 13 top-25 national indoor finishes while the women have placed inside the top 25 on 11 occasions during that time frame.

For the first time since 2010, Johnson City, Tenn., will serve as the host city. The David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field was the host facility from 2001-2010. The championships begin on March 3 with the women's pentathlon at 1 p.m. EST and the men's heptathlon at 1:30 p.m. Last year, the Indiana Tech men repeated as national champions and the Oklahoma Baptist women won its third-consecutive national championship.

Stretch Internet, the NAIA’s official video streaming company, will be broadcasting all sessions of the national championships. Packages can be purchased for $14.95. For more information, click here.

For the schedule of events, click here

Men's Qualifiers - by School | click here
Men's Qualifiers - by Event | click here

Women's Qualifiers - by School | click here
Women's Qualifiers - by Event | click here

2016 Concordia indoor national qualifiers

*Current national ranking in parentheses

MEN
Trey Barnes, sophomore
-Shot put (7th, 54’ 3 ¾”)

Cody Boellstorff, junior
-Shot put (17th, 51’ 7”)
-Weight throw (1st, 68’ 10 ½”)

Trevor Bresson, senior
-4x400 meter relay (10th, 3:21.54)

Samuel Ferguson, freshman
-4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:59.94)

Philip Kreutzer, junior
-Shot put (23rd, 50’ 7 ½”)
-Weight throw (8th, 59’ 2”)

Zach Lurz, junior
-Shot put (1st, 59’ 6 ¼”)
-Weight throw (2nd, 63’ 4 ¾”)

Nathan Matters, freshman
-4x400 meter relay (10th, 3:21.54)

Josiah McCallister, freshman
-4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:59.94)

CJ Muller, junior
-600 meter run (11th, 1:20.71)
-4x400 meter relay (10th, 3:21.54)

Jose Rojas, senior
-Shot put (5th, 55’ 1 ½”)
-Weight throw (5th, 59’ 9 ½”)

Austin Schafer, sophomore
-Pole vault (11th, 15’ 5”)

Ben Schulteis, senior
-Weight throw (18th, 56’ 8 ¾”)

Josh Slechta, senior
-Weight throw (10th, 58’ 10 ¼”)

Thomas Taylor, freshman
-4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:59.94)

Jaap Van Gaalen, senior
-4x400 meter relay (10th, 3:21.54)

Lucas Wiechman, junior
-Pole vault (6th, 16’ ¾”)
-Heptathlon (3rd, 4922)

Patrick Wortmann, sophomore
-4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:59.94)

WOMEN
Tori Beran, freshman
-4x400 meter relay (11th, 3:59.99)

Christine Beune, junior
-4x400 meter relay (11th, 3:59.99)

Allison Brooks, freshman
-Pole vault (22nd, 11’ 5”)

Kattie Cleveland, senior
-Weight throw (7th, 57’ 6 ½”)

Stephanie Coley, senior
-Shot put (1st, 48’ 1 ¾”)
-Weight throw (6th, 57’ 11 ¾”)

Alayna Daberkow, sophomore
-4x400 meter relay (11th, 3:59.99)
-Pentathlon (14th, 3116)

McKenzie Gravo, freshman
-Pole vault (7th, 12’ 2 ¾”)

Liz King, junior
-Weight throw (13th, 53’ 8 ¼”)

Samantha Liermann, freshman
-Shot put (6th, 64’ 10”)

Cynthia Mick, junior
-Pole vault (22nd, 11’ 5”)

Kali Robb, junior
-Shot put (2nd, 47’ 2 ¼”)
-Weight throw (3rd, 62’ 1 ¾”)

Emily Sievert, sophomore
-5,000 meter run (8th, 18:07.90)

Marti Vlasin, junior
-4x400 meter relay (11th, 3:59.99)

Kim Wood, senior
-1,000 meter run (4th, 2:55.95)
-1 mile run (2nd, 4:52.01)
-4x400 meter relay (11th, 3:59.99)

Track and field finish day one at NAIA Indoor Championships

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The fourth-ranked Concordia men’s and women’s track and field teams finished day one of the NAIA Indoor Championships Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs competed in five different events over they day, including the men’s heptathlon and the women’s pentathlon.

Lucas Wiechman contended in the men’s heptathlon and is sitting in third place after four events with 2,796 points. The junior finished second in the 60 meters with a time of 7.23 seconds. With a jump of 22-01.75 Wiechman placed third in the long jump. In the shot put he registered a mark of 38-03.50, good for fourth place. The remaining three events of the heptathlon (60 meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meter run) will take place tomorrow.

In the women’s pentathlon, Alayna Daberkow finished 14th with 2,899 points. In the 800 meters, Daberkow finished in third place with a time of 2:25.16.

The men’s 4x400 and 4x800 meter relays and the women’s 4x400 meter relay ran in the preliminaries. Qualifying for finals on Saturday was the men’s 4x400 team made up of Jaap van Galen, Nathan Matters, Trevor Bresson and CJ Muller. The team turned in a time of 3:19.00. The men’s 4x800 meter relay registered a time of 8:01.05 while the women’s 4x400 meter relay finished in 3:59.41.

The squad will be back in action tomorrow starting at 9 a.m. CDT. Live results for the entire meet are available HERE

Boellstorff wins weight throw title; nine other Bulldogs named All-American

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – A total of 10 Concordia men’s and women’s track and field athletes were named All-Americans after the second day of the NAIA Indoor Championships, including Cody Boellstorff who won the title in the men’s weight throw Friday afternoon.

Boellstorff said, “I’m excited, it’s what I was going for this season. I’m still itching for the 70 foot throw, but I’m happy with it.”

Boellstorff’s first place toss came in at 69-09, a new school and personal record. The junior placed first in the weight throw in every meet he competed in this season. In a field of the toughest competition in the weight throw in NAIA Indoor Championships history, three other Bulldogs placed in the event. Zach Lurz turned in a mark of 64-07.75 (third), Josh Slechta hit 61-09.50 (fifth) and Philip Kreutzer marked a throw of 60-10.50 (seventh). Coming up just shy of placing was Jose Rojas who threw the weight 60-01.

Lurz said, “We’ve always relieved heavily on the weight throwers and we did our job today. Almost everyone set a PR, we did what needed to do.”

The women also participated in the weight throw today. All four Bulldogs competing in the event reached All-American status. Kali Robb was the top finisher for the squad and came in fourth with a throw of 60-00.50. Coming in sixth was Kattie Cleveland, registering a 59-05.75 toss. Steph Coley finished seventh with a mark of 57-06.50 while Liz King placed eighth, turning in a throw of 56-10.25.

Lucas Wiechman finished the men’s heptathlon during day number two of the meet. Wiechman finished the seven event feat in second place with 5,176 points. Today’s events were the 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meter run. Wiechman’s day was highlighted by a third place finish in the 60 meter hurldles (8.55) and a first place finish in the pole vault (16.02.75).

McKenzie Gravo received All-American honors in the pole vault in her debut season. The freshman hit a mark of 12-02.50 to finish fifth.

Gravo, “My performance was a little rocky today at the beginning, I was a little nervous to be here. But then I got into my head and was like, ‘I made it here, I might as well make the most of it.’ I made most of them on my third attempts, but I still made it and that’s what counts. I was just trying to enjoy everything…it was a joy to be here and do what I do.”

On the track, Kim Wood ran in the 1,000 meter preliminaries and qualified for finals on Saturday. The senior had the second best time of the prelims, crossing the finish line in 2:58.35.

CJ Muller qualified for the men’s 600 meter run, posting a time of 1:20.77 in the preliminary race.

Beginning at 9 a.m. CDT, the Bulldog track and field teams will be back in action for the closing day of the NAIA Indoor Championships. Events that Concordia will be competing in include: women’s shot put, men’s shot put, men’s pole vault, women’s 1,000 meters, men’s 600 meters and the men’s 4x400 meter relay. Live results can be found HERE.

Lurz repeats shot put title; squads finish in top five

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Concordia track and field teams finished the NAIA Indoor Championships in the top five after a three day event. The men placed third with 58 points while the women finished fifth with 43 points. Eighteen Bulldogs were named NAIA All-Americans and one more won a national title.

In addition to Cody Boellstorff’s first place finish in the weight throw during the second day of the meet, the junior received the male outstanding performance of the meet for his monstrous throw. This is the first time in Concordia track and field history that a Bulldog has received the accolades.

Einspahr said, “We had a tremendous meet with two top-five finishes. It reflects the fact that the athletes put in a lot of hard work. The men placing third was really a feather in their cap. Our assistant coaches did a good job of getting the athletes ready to come out and compete.”

Zach Lurz repeated his national title from last season in the shot put. The junior’s throw of 57-07.75 was over two feet greater than any other competitor. Jose Rojas finished in second with a mark of 55-06.25. Also competing in the shot put was Trey Barnes who registered a throw of 52-11.50 to finish in eighth place.

Lurz said, “This whole week, practices have been about getting technique cleared up and getting our distances further. Yesterday that came to culmination. I set a huge PR, four out of six of my throws were PR’s on the weight. Shot didn’t go as well, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it but I came out and did what I needed to do.”

In the women’s shot put, freshman Sam Liermann was the runner-up with a toss of 47-10.50, just under three inches of the first place finisher. Senior Steph Coley marked a 47-08 throw for third place while Kalie Robb finished sixth, turning in a 45-08 mark.

Liermann said, “I was coming in sixth and I had a really good week of practice but I knew I could come here and do better. I was happy to get a new PR. I love the team and I’m glad I could help out with team points. I feel so welcome and everyone wants you to do well, so that helps.”

Lucas Wiechman competed in the pole vault and received fourth place. The junior vaulted 15-07 to gain his second All-American award of the 2016 meet.

Wiechman credited his success to his coaches and said, “Being eight events in and being the last event I just had to leave it to a good coach and take what kind of bars we could get and go from there.”

Kim Wood ran in two events and was named an All-American in each. In the one mile, Wood placed third with a time of 5:01.53. The senior placed fourth in the 1,000 meters, finishing in 2:56.69.

CJ Muller also came out of the meet with a pair of All-American plaques. Individually the junior placed sixth in the 600 meters with a mark of 1:21.23. The men’s 4x400 meter relay team made up of Muller, Jaap van Gaalen, Trevor Bresson and Nathan Matters finished in eighth place with a time of 3:19.99.

“Kim Wood had what she felt was a sub-par performance,” Einspahr said. “She’s been struggling with some sickness which affected her this weekend which is too bad because she’s been running really well up to this point. It was still a tremendous finish. We got some points from the men’s 4x400 and from CJ Muller that we weren’t projected to so that was a good bonus.”

Now that the indoor season has come to a close, the Bulldogs will take a month off to prepare for the outdoor season. In its next event, Concordia will compete at the Hastings Broncos Invite on Saturday, April 2.

Below is complete list of Concordia’s 2016 Indoor All-Americans

MEN
Trey Barnes (shot put)

Cody Boellstorff (weight throw – 1st)

Trevor Bresson (4x400m relay)

Philip Kreutzer (weight throw)

Zach Lurz (shot put – 1st, weight throw)

Nathan Matters (4x400m relay)

CJ Muller (600 meter run, 4x400m relay)

Jose Rojas (shot put)

Josh Slechta (weight throw)

Jaap van Gaalen (4x400m relay)

Lucas Wiechman (pole vault, heptathlon)

WOMEN
Kattie Cleveland (weight throw)

Steph Coley (shot put, weight throw)

McKenzie Gravo (pole vault)

Liz King (weight throw)

Sam Liermann (shot put)

Kali Robb (shot put, weight throw)

Kim Wood (1,000 meter run, one mile run)

McLaughlin collects national coaching award

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a dominant performance by Bulldog throwers at last week’s NAIA indoor national championships in Johnson City, Tenn., Concordia University throws coach Ed McLaughlin has garnered the distinction of 2016 NAIA National Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year honors, as awarded by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. McLaughlin was also named the Midwest regional men’s and women’s assistant coach of the year by the USTFCCCA.

The 18th-year assistant has elevated the Bulldog throws program to heights never before reached in program history. At the conclusion of the 2015 indoor/outdoor seasons, “The Throwers Page” formula ranked Concordia throwers as the best in the NAIA for the year. During the 2016 indoor season, Concordia swept all four GPAC throwing titles and then Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Zach Lurz (shot put) both collected national titles. Under McLaughlin’s guidance, Boellstorff and Lurz own two national titles apiece.

At the 2016 GPAC indoor championships, Concordia throwers went 1-2-5-7-8 in the men’s shot put and 1-2-4-5-6-8 in the men’s weight throw. At the NAIA Championships, McLaughlin’s athletes went 1-2-8 in the shot put and 1-3-5-7 in the weight throw, equating to a total of 41 team points. Only four entire teams surpassed that lofty total at the national championship meet. For his effort in the weight throw, Boellstorff garnered NAIA National Championship Performance of the Meet recognition. At the indoor championships, Concordia throwers (male and female) combined for 14 All-America honors, eight personal bests, two national titles and the male performance of the meet award.

Also announced by the USTFCCCA this week, Lurz earned 2016 NAIA National Men’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year accolades.

Lurz named NAIA national men's indoor field athlete of the year

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – On the heels of his second career national title in the shot put, junior Zach Lurz has been named the NAIA National Men’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, as chosen by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. In late February the USTFCCCA tabbed the Chadron, Neb., native as its Midwest regional field athlete of the year. Both awards are based on 2016 indoor accomplishments only.

The key figure in last year’s NAIA team outdoor national title, Lurz keeps adding to his impressive resume. The five-time GPAC titlist defended his 2015 indoor shot put national championship with his mark of 57’ 7 ¾” at last week’s NAIA indoor meet in Johnson City, Tenn. He also placed third in the weight throw, giving him 16 total team points at the national championships, where Concordia placed third. Lurz’s conference title in the shot put also helped the Bulldogs to a third-place GPAC finish.

Lurz owns Concordia school records in both the indoor and outdoor shot put. He was the 2015 NAIA Outdoor National Championships Most Valuable Performer of the Meet. Lurz is now an eight-time All-American. On Jan. 27 he was named the NAIA Indoor Field Athlete of the Week.

Boellstorff's improvements take Bulldog throwing to new lengths

Second place was a foreign concept to junior Cody Boellstorff this indoor track and field season, specifically in the weight throw. The Concordia thrower not only placed atop the podium at every meet he competed in this season, including the NAIA Championships, but he also set a new personal best in all but one contest. This kind of improvement is something that Concordia hasn’t seen before.

Boellstorff’s coach Ed McLaughlin said, “We always tell kids we want them to improve every meet. The kids that normally do that are freshmen who are learning something new. For Cody to do this in his fourth year of throwing here is amazing. Some meets might have been just three centimeters, but it’s still farther. Other weeks were bigger jumps.”

However, the ease and confidence in the ring wasn’t always something that Boellstorff possessed. Coming into his collegiate career he didn’t even know what the weight and hammer throw was.

“The first time I experience that, it was ugly. Once I started picking up on it though, I started to enjoy it and I think that’s what led to what we’re seeing right now. It was different, I felt like I needed to keep working on it to get better,” Boellstorff said.

Coach McLaughlin uses Boellstorff’s first year struggles as a way to keep the junior humble, especially this year. His coach didn’t think Boellstorff had a chance at becoming a successful weight thrower until the last week of fall practices. The naturally ability to throw far was there for Boellstorff, he just had to work on the technical side of things.

McLaughlin said, “There were actually three other kids his age who had it figured out weeks ahead of time compared to him. When I need to make him humble, I remind him of his freshman year when I used to have to count for him so he knew how many turns he was supposed to do in the ring. I’ve brought it up numerous times this season.”

Fast forward to his junior season and Boellstorff is standing at the top of the NAIA Championship stand for weight throw with another personal and school record toss of 69’ 9”. When asked, the Bulldog thrower is still not overly impressed with himself. With a goal of 70’ in the event, the Waverly, Neb. native claims he could be happier with his national title.

“At nationals, all I was competing with was that 70’ line,” Boellstorff said. “Yes I won, but I wasn’t too thrilled because I didn’t break the mark I was shooting for. It has kind of sunk in, but I could be a little bit more excited than I am.”

Boellstorff also broke new ground for Concordia by receiving the Most Outstanding Performance award at the National Championships. This award has never been won by a Concordia track and field athlete despite many impressive performances by now head coach Kregg Einspahr in running events, multiple pole vaulters in the 80’s and 90’s and various others.

Looking ahead to the outdoor season, Boellstorff will likely be focusing his attention on the hammer throw. From what McLaughlin has seen over the past few months in the weight throw and the short couple of weeks of practicing the hammer throw, the coach is confident that Boellstorff can compete at a bigger stage in the hammer throw. The thrower has a new goal to annihilate his current mark of 205’ 8” which is a school best in the event. He will take the confidence gained from this season and carry it into the upcoming outdoor season to help make that mark.

Also breaking new ground for Concordia throwers was Boellstorff’s teammate Zach Lurz. The senior was able made history by becoming the first Bulldog thrower to repeat championship titles in the same event. The shot putter claimed the 2016 title with a throw of 57’ 7 ¾”. The heave wasn’t a personal best but was good enough to reach the top of the podium for the second straight year. After coming up just short of the title at the outdoor meet in the 2015 season, Lurz is hoping to redeem himself and grab another title.

McLaughlin said, “The only downside was that he didn’t throw that well (at indoor nationals). He’ll tell you that. That’s the problem when you have kids in multiple events. The ability to come back and be aggressive as you were on day one isn’t a given.”

The Concordia track and field outdoor season will kick off on Saturday, April 2 at the Hastings Bronco Invite. Boellstorff and Lurz are just two of several Bulldog throwers to pay attention to. With nearly half of the men’s and women’s throwing All-American titles going to Concordia throwers at indoor nationals, the outdoor season is shaping up to be another successful campaign for the Bulldogs.

Track programs seek to build upon indoor season

At a glance

MEN
Head coach: Kregg Einspahr (24th year)
2015 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2015 outdoor finishes: 1st (GPAC); 1st (NAIA)
2016 indoor finishes: 3rd (GPAC); 3rd (NAIA)
2016 indoor All-Americans: Trey Barnes (shot, weight), Cody Boellstorff (*weight), Trevor Bresson (4x400), Philip Kreutzer (weight), Zach Lurz (*shot, weight), Nathan Matters (4x400), CJ Muller (600m, 4x400), Jose Rojas (shot), Josh Slechta (weight), Jaap van Gaalen (4x400), Lucas Wiechman (pole vault, heptathlon)
2015 All-Americans returning: Cody Boellstorff (*hammer), Matthew Chapa (4x400), Zach Lurz (discus, hammer, *shot, weight), CJ Muller (4x400, *600m), Jose Rojas (shot), Josh Slechta (hammer, *weight), Jaap van Gaalen (4x400), Lucas Wiechman (decathlon, heptathlon, pole vault)
2015 All-Americans lost: Brandon Cook (decathlon, heptathlon), Trey Farmer (hammer), Tai Pleasant (4x400), Brandon Ramos (heptathlon, pole vault)
*National champion

WOMEN
Head coach: Kregg Einspahr (24th year)
2015 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 11th (NAIA)
2015 outdoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2016 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2016 indoor All-Americans: Kattie Cleveland (weight), Stephanie Coley (shot, weight), McKenzie Gravo (pole vault), Liz King (weight), Samantha Liermann (shot), Kali Robb (shot, weight), Kim Wood (1,000m, one mile)
2015 All-Americans returning: Stephanie Coley (hammer, shot), Liz King (hammer, javelin), Cynthia Mick (pole vault), Kali Robb (hammer, weight), Katricia Svoboda (javelin), Kim Wood (1,000m)
2015 All-Americans lost: Cassie Starks (pole vault)

Season Outlook
The Concordia University track and field programs are in the midst of an unprecedented run. The men have finished inside the top five at three-straight national meets, including the 2015 outdoor national title. Meanwhile, the women have turned in fifth-place claims at back-to-back national championships.

Do the Bulldogs have what it takes to make another run at a national title this outdoor season? The lineup for outdoor, which features additional throwing events, favors Concordia and its stacked group of long tossers that produced 14 All-America honors and two national titles at this year’s NAIA indoor meet. Fresh off an indoor national title in the weight throw, junior Cody Boellstorff will now have the opportunity to defend his 2015 outdoor title in the hammer.

It was also a big indoor season for shot put national champion Zach Lurz, who earned the honor of NAIA Men’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, as chosen by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. From that same source, throws coach Ed McLaughlin received the distinction of NAIA Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year. The present day represents the golden age of the Bulldog throwing program.

“We had some amazing PRs and people competed so well at conference and nationals,” McLaughlin said in an interview for the Bulldog Coaches Show. “It was a whole team effort. There were very few people who did not perform at their best at the end of the season. As a coach, that’s what you’re training for, but you can’t always expect it. During indoor nationals, you’re on cloud nine the whole time.”

The Concordia men have won the last two GPAC outdoor championships and figure to be a strong contender to three-peat. Now in his 24th season as cross country and track and field head coach, Kregg Einspahr likes how things are shaping up this spring.

“In a lot of ways we’ll probably be better in outdoor,” Einspahr said. “We pick up a couple field events, the javelin and the discus, that we don’t have for indoor. We lose a couple events in the long sprints and in the short middle distances and we pick up a couple longer events. I think that probably favors us. Two of the events we gain are the steeplechase and the 10K. That should be an advantage for us. We’ve always had a strong steeplechase group and I think that will continue on this year. I think it will be a good change for us during the outdoor season.”

The astounding Kim Wood will have one more crack at a national title of her own as she enters her final season of competition in what’s been a tremendous career. She put together one of the greatest GPAC performances ever by a Concordia athlete when she won four individual running events, including three in meet record times on Feb. 20. But Wood will have plenty of motivation this spring after placing third (one mile) and fourth (1,000 meters) at the indoor national championships in her events.

The lone current Concordia female athlete with a national title to her credit is senior Liz King, who won the javelin competition in 2014. King came up just shy of a repeat national championship a year ago when she finished runner up. King is one of the leaders of a deep women’s throws group that features All-Americans such as Stephanie Coley and Kali Robb.

In total, only one female All-American (Cassie Starks) is gone from the 2015 indoor/outdoor squads. Two Bulldogs were first-time All-Americans during this past indoor season, McKenzie Gravo and Samantha Liermann. Gravo is part of a rock-solid group of women’s pole vaulters that includes Allison Brooks and Cynthia Mick.

The majority of the key names are also back in place for the men. Some of the headliners beyond the dominant bunch of throwers are All-Americans in CJ Muller and Lucas Wiechman. Einspahr made mention of several distance runners who will play a role in Concordia’s fortunes at the conference championships. Those athletes include Jordan Potrzeba, Coleman Cogswell, Taylor Mueller and Chris Shelton. Potrzeba has been an all-conference performer in cross country and track. On the women's side, Taylor Grove is an up and comer.

According to Lurz, he and his teammates feed off of each other’s successes. And those successes have been large in number in recent seasons. The Bulldogs have gotten used to doing big things.

“At this point I almost feel entitled walking around campus as national champions,” Lurz said. “I could not be happier with the choice I made for college. They support me in like no one else. You have the alumni come back and talk about how proud they are. This is the best place I could be.”

May 26-28 a large group of Bulldogs is likely to return to the scene of the first team national title in Concordia history. That’s when the NAIA outdoor national championships take place in Gulf Shores, Ala. It’s a location where Einspahr and his coaching staff shared in sheer joy when the Bulldog men captured an improbable national title. The seafood is an added bonus.

“We’ve had great success at Gulf Shores,” Einspahr said. “We’re looking forward to getting back down there. I know the coaches enjoy the seafood down there. We have good memories there. We’re looking forward to getting back and seeing how we stack up during the outdoor track season.

“We’re optimistic that we can get back there and have another real good showing – hopefully a couple more top-10 finishes at the national championships.”

The outdoor season gets underway on Saturday at the Hastings Invite. Then on April 9, Concordia will be inside Bulldog Stadium to host the annual Concordia Outdoor Invite.

Throwers pick up where they left off; Coley dominates

HASTINGS, Neb. – The outdoor season opened up on Saturday for two Concordia University track and field squads coming off top-five finishes just weeks ago at the indoor national championships. The Bulldogs haven’t missed a beat. Twelve Concordia throwers combined for 22 automatic national qualifying marks and seven event titles in the Bronco Invite hosted by Hastings. Senior Stephanie Coley took first in all three of her events: discus, hammer throw and shot put.

That type of dominance has become expected of Concordia throwers, who took home 14 All-America awards and a pair of national titles this past March. They appear poised for another monster season. “To start the season off like we did was crazy,” said throws coach Ed McLaughlin. “I was just real happy with all of them.”

The only female throwing event not won by Coley was taken by senior Liz King, who posted an automatic mark in the javelin – an event in which she won a national title in back in 2014. On the men’s side, Zach Lurz bested the field in both the discus and shot put while teammate Josh Slechta rose to the top of the hammer throw competition.

Most of the marks turned in by Concordia’s throwers came as little surprise, but Coley’s dominance stood out above and beyond. She hurled personal bests in the hammer and discus, an event not known as a specialty for Coley. She hit on a mark of over 149 feet in the prelims of the discus and called it a day. Quite a day.

“For her to PR in the hammer throw like she did was awesome,” McLaughlin said. “When she popped that throw in the prelims of the discus, ‘it was like, all right, we’re done.’ You don’t even think you’re going to throw someone in an event and she wins it walking away.”

Coley was the leader of a sterling effort in the women’s hammer throw. The Bulldogs placed five of the top six in the event. Concordia also hogged the top four spots in the men’s hammer and men’s discus, the top three and four of the top five in the men’s shot put and three of the top four in the women’s shot put. “With the schools there it’s a pretty good indicator of how conference is going to go,” McLaughlin said.

On the track, junior Lucas Wiechman turned in victories in both the 110 meter (15.36) and 400 meter hurdles (56.55) and received praise from head coach Kregg Einspahr. Wiechman also cleared 15' 5" in the pole vault for an automatic national qualifying mark. The Bulldog men’s 4x400 meter relay clocked in at 3:19.13 for a first-place finish. In her only individual race of the day, Kim Wood just missed out on an automatic national qualifying time in a winning effort in the 800 meters (2:14.69).

An All-American during indoor season, freshman McKenzie Gravo already locked up her trip to outdoor nationals by winning the pole vault. She cleared 11’ 9 ¾.”

Others noted by Einspahr included Evan Asche (fifth in the 10,000), Kohlton Gabehart (sixth in the 10,000), CJ Muller (third in the 800) and Emily Sievert (second in the 10,000) and the group of female jumpers (Katelyn Shoup finished third in the triple jump). Said Einspahr, “It was a good day for us overall.”

The Bulldogs now look forward to hosting the annual Concordia Outdoor Invite next Saturday (April 9) inside Bulldog Stadium. The tentative event schedule can be viewed HERE.

Automatic national qualifiers

  • Trey Barnes – shot put; discus
  • Kattie Cleveland – hammer
  • Stephanie Coley – shot put; discus; hammer
  • McKenzie Gravo – pole vault
  • Liz King – hammer; javelin
  • Philip Kreutzer – hammer
  • Samantha Liermann – shot put
  • Zach Lurz – shot put; discus; hammer
  • Sydney Meyer – hammer
  • Kali Robb – shot put; hammer
  • Jose Rojas – shot put; discus; hammer
  • Josh Slechta – discus; hammer
  • Tricia Svoboda – discus
  • Lucas Wiechman – pole vault

Coley, Wiechman nab GPAC weekly honors

GPAC releases: MEN | WOMEN

SEWARD, Neb. – For the 11th and 12th times in 2016, Concordia University track and field athletes garnered weekly recognition from the GPAC. On Wednesday the conference named senior Stephanie Coley the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Field Athlete of the Week and junior Lucas Wiechman the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Track Athlete of the Week. It’s the second time in 2016 that Coley has received the award.

Coley may have enjoyed the best single-day performance of her career at the Bronco Invite (April 2). The eight-time All-American won event titles in the discus, hammer and shot put while qualifying for the national championships in all three competitions. Two of her marks – hammer (181’ 11”) and shot put (45’ 11 ¼”) – rank No. 1 on the NAIA national leaderboard. She also ranks second in the discus (149’ 6”). The native of Gering, Neb., is coming off of All-America efforts in the shot put and weight throw at the 2016 indoor national championships.

Meanwhile, Wiechman provided the biggest highlights on the track at the Bronco Invite. The native of Pilger, Neb., paced the field in both the 110 (15.36) and 400 meter hurdles (56.55). He also qualified for nationals in the pole vault by clearing 15’ 5.” Among GPAC athletes, Wiechman ranks No. 1 in the 110 meter hurdles, No. 3 in the pole vault and No. 3 in the 400 meter hurdles. Wiechman is a five-time All-American. He earned All-America awards at the 2016 indoor national championships in the heptathlon and the pole vault.

2016 Concordia GPAC athletes of the week
April 6 – Stephanie Coley, Lucas Wiechman
Feb. 17 – Cody Boellstorf
Feb. 10 – Kim Wood
Feb. 3 -- *Cody Boellstorff, Stephanie Coley, CJ Muller
Jan. 27 -- *Zach Lurz
Jan. 20 – CJ Muller, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas, *Kim Wood
*National Athlete of the Week

Track teams hold down top-three spots in first 2016 outdoor ratings

USTFCCCA week 1 ratings

SEWARD, Neb. – Following top-five indoor national finishes, both Concordia University track and field programs received top-three national placements in the first computer ratings of the 2016 outdoor season released on Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). With 376.18 points, the Bulldog women checked in at No. 2. Meanwhile, the men racked up 302.67 points and are ranked third.

The USTFCCCA uses a computer formula based on the NAIA national performance lists to calculate team points that then determine the rankings.

Concordia’s third-ranked men boast six individuals who own at least one automatic national qualifying mark achieved at the Bronco Invite on April 2. Zach Lurz and Jose Rojas have both qualified in the discus, hammer and shot put. Junior Lucas Wiechman, who won event titles in the 110 and 400 meter hurdles and qualified for nationals in the pole vault, was named the GPAC track athlete of the week on Wednesday.

For the second-ranked women, senior Stephanie Coley stood out with her three event titles (all national qualifying marks) at the Bronco Invite. She received GPAC field athlete of the week recognition on Wednesday. Coley is one of eight Concordia female athletes with at least one automatic qualifying mark.

Below is the list of 24 automatic national qualifying marks and three ‘B’ standard marks turned in by Concordia athletes at the Bronco Invite.

  • Trey Barnes – shot put (A, 52’ 6 ¾”); discus (A, 164’ 11”)
  • Allison Brooks – pole vault (B, 11’ 5 ¾”)
  • Kattie Cleveland – hammer (A, 173’ 11”)
  • Stephanie Coley – shot put (A, 45’ 11 ¼”); discus (A, 149’ 6”); hammer (A, 181’ 11”)
  • McKenzie Gravo – pole vault (A, 11’ 9 ¾”)
  • Liz King – hammer (A, 174’ 2”); javelin (A, 142’ 5”)
  • Philip Kreutzer – hammer (A, 177’ 3”)
  • Samantha Liermann – shot put (A, 45’ 1 ¾”)
  • Zach Lurz – shot put (A, 54’ 8 ¾”); discus (A, 169’ 1”); hammer (A, 181’ 10”)
  • Sydney Meyer – hammer (A, 166’ 6”)
  • Nicole Perry – hammer (B, 157’ 5”)
  • Kali Robb – shot put (A, 44’ 7”); hammer (A, 166’ 2”)
  • Jose Rojas – shot put (A, 52’ 3 ¼”); discus (A, 162’ 7”); hammer (A, 186’ 9”)
  • Josh Slechta – discus (A, 163’ 9”); hammer (A, 195’)
  • Katricia Svoboda – discus (A, 143’ 1”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – pole vault (A, 15’ 5”)
  • Kim Wood – 800 meters (B, 2:14.69)

The Bulldogs are now getting set to host the Concordia Outdoor Invitational on Saturday. The tentative event schedule can be viewed HERE.

Coley nets national weekly award

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the third time in 2016, a Concordia University thrower has earned a national weekly honor. On Wednesday the NAIA tabbed senior Stephanie Coley as the NAIA National Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week. Other throwers to win the award this calendar year were Cody Boellstorff (Feb. 3) and Zach Lurz (Jan. 27).

Coley is a two-time GPAC weekly honoree in 2016. The eight-time All-American won event titles in the discus, hammer and shot put while qualifying for the national championships in all three competitions at the Bronco Invite (April 2). Two of her marks – hammer (181’ 11”) and shot put (45’ 11 ¼”) – rank No. 1 on the NAIA national leaderboard. She also ranks second in the discus (149’ 6”). The native of Gering, Neb., is coming off of All-America efforts in the shot put and weight throw at the 2016 indoor national championships.

Since the start of the 2015 indoor track season, four different Concordia throwers have combined for five national weekly honors. Junior Zach Lurz has twice earned weekly national field accolades. Junior Kali Robb began the run when she was named national field athlete of the week on Feb. 18, 2015.

Coley and the Bulldogs are now getting set to host the Concordia Outdoor Invitational on Saturday. The tentative event schedule can be viewed HERE.

Throwers with national weekly awards, last two years
April 6, 2016 – Stephanie Coley
Feb. 3, 2016 – Cody Boellstorff
Jan. 27, 2016 – Zach Lurz
April 8, 2015 – Zach Lurz
Feb. 18, 2015 – Kali Robb

Slechta breaks school hammer throw record; 11 Bulldogs win titles

SEWARD, Neb. – In its lone home meet of the outdoor season, the second (women) / third (men) ranked Concordia University track and field programs put on a show with 11 Bulldogs winning titles (in eight events) and a new school record in the hammer throw. Athletes from 11 different institutions were present for Saturday’s annual Concordia Outdoor Invitational.

The meet also provided Concordia an opportunity to present championship rings to support staff and national qualifying members of the 2015 men’s outdoor national title team. After having led Bulldog cross country and track and field to six combined national runner-up finishes, head coach Kregg Einspahr raised the trophy last year in Gulf Shores, Ala.

“I think the athletes really appreciated the gesture,” Einspahr said. “We thank our administration for putting together a fine tribute to that team that had such a great end of the season. It’s a credit to our student-athletes and all the work they do. We’re very appreciative of that. I don’t think as coaches that’s necessarily why we get into it. In a lot of respects it reflects the work we’ve done over the years. For us as coaches it’s been about the building of the program.”

Senior Josh Slechta turned in two of the 24 automatic national qualifying marks by Bulldog throwers. Slechta placed third in the hammer throw with a new school record toss of roughly 210 feet, putting him behind only two unattached competitors. Slechta highlighted another dominant day for throwers which placed three of the top four in the women’s shot put, three of the top five in the men’s shot put, three of the top four in the men’s discus, five of the top seven in the women’s hammer and three of the top five in the men’s hammer. Jan Steinbrueck broke loose with her first career national qualifying mark, which came in the discus.

Now all the way back from an injury suffered during football season, Slechta is maximizing his potential.

“Honestly it felt really good,” Slechta said. “I wasn’t really expecting to pop one off at 210, but it felt awesome. It’s nice to have really good teammates pushing you every single day.”

Junior Zach Lurz claimed runner-up finishes in the discus and shot put while posting national qualifying marks in all three of his events. Kattie Cleveland, Stephanie Coley, Liz King, Philip Kreutzer, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas and Slechta also put up automatic tosses in multiple events. King won the javelin competition with a throw of better than 41 meters.

Six of the team’s eight event titles came on the track. Senior Kim Wood cruised to wins in the 800 and 1,500 meter races. Her time of 4:38.15 in the midst of considerable wind gusts in the 1,500 meters represented a personal best and qualified her for the national championships. Other titles came from the men’s 4x400 meter relay, Trevor Bresson (400 hurdles), Chris Shelton (3,000 meter steeplechase) and Lucas Wiechman (110 meter hurdles). Wiechman also won the pole vault with a clearance of 15’ 9.”

Shelton led a flurry of strong performances by Concordia men’s steeplechase runners. In addition to Shelton, Cameron Moes (third), Kohlton Gabehart (fourth) and Taylor Mueller (fifth) all placed among the top five in the event.

“The wind holds times up, but despite that we had some really nice times on the track,” Einspahr said. “It’s not optimal but it’s spring in Nebraska. Overall this was actually a pretty nice day.”

Katelyn Shoup came up just shy of an automatic national qualifying mark in the triple jump with her second-place leap of 11.2 meters. CJ Muller also enjoyed a solid day on the track with runner-up finishes in both the 200 (22.15) and 400 meter (49.19) dashes. He helped the 4x400 meter relay to a winning time of 3:21.28. In the women’s 5k, sophomore Emily Sievert crossed the finish line in 18:35.46. McKenzie Gravo and Allison Brooks placed second and third, respectively, in the pole vault.

Meet No. 3 of the outdoor season will take place next Saturday in Kearney, Neb., where the Bulldogs will compete at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Loper Invite.

Automatic national qualifying marks (April 9)

  • Trey Barnes – shot put (16.93 meters); discus (50.26 meters)
  • Kattie Cleveland – discus (44.47 meters); hammer (55.4 meters)
  • Stephanie Coley – shot put (14.06 meters); hammer (52.18 meters)
  • Liz King – hammer throw (56.0 meters); javelin (41.65 meters)
  • Philip Kreutzer – shot put (15.66 meters); hammer (54.0 meters)
  • Samantha Liermann – shot put (13.89 meters)
  • Zach Lurz – shot put (18.01 meters); discus (51.36 meters); hammer (59.3 meters)
  • Sydney Meyer – hammer (53.35 meters)
  • Nicole Perry – hammer (50.4 meters)
  • Kali Robb – shot put (14.52 meters); hammer (52.6 meters)
  • Jose Rojas – shot put (16.09 meters); hammer (59.5 meters)
  • Josh Slechta – discus (49.73 meters); hammer (64.27 meters)
  • Jan Steinbrueck – discus (44.02 meters)
  • Katricia Svoboda – discus (48.15 meters)
  • Lucas Wiechman – pole vault (4.8 meters)
  • Kim Wood – 1,500 meters (4:38.15)

Gravo, King, Slechta grab titles on day one of GPAC track

HASTINGS, Neb. – If you’ve paid any attention to Concordia University track and field, you know about the throwers. There are only so many superlatives to describe the group that again dominated on day one of the GPAC outdoor championships on Friday. Liz King won two events and Josh Slechta broke a conference meet record as part of a big performance from Bulldog long tossers. Freshman McKenzie Gravo also repeated her title in the pole vault.

Heading into Saturday, 24th-year head coach Kregg Einspahr’s No. 2 nationally-ranked squads both sit right near the top. The women have piled up 73 points to second-place Doane’s 28. Meanwhile, the men are second with 46 points, two fewer than Doane. Only five events have been scored on both sides at the 2016 event hosted by Hastings College.

“It was a great start to the weekend,” said Ed McLaughlin, the 2016 NAIA National Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year. “We did what we had to do and a little bit more in a couple of spots. I’m just really happy, especially the way it happened. Liz King winning her fourth GPAC javelin title is a huge deal. Going one through five in the women’s hammer was not expected and Josh breaking the meet record was awesome.”

King, a senior from Billings, Mont., completed a perfect GPAC career in the javelin by winning the event at the conference meet for the fourth-straight year. Her mark of 150’ 10” outdistanced teammate and runner up Katricia Svoboda (national qualifying mark of 135’ 3”) by more than 15 feet. King was only getting started. She then threw the hammer for a winning measurement of 178 feet, allowing her to capture back-to-back titles in the event.

The women mounted 33 points in the hammer throw alone as they claimed each of the top-five placements (King, Kattie Cleveland-2nd, Stephanie Coley-3rd, Kali Robb-4th, Sydney Meyer-5th). The men were similarly dominant in the hammer with Slechta’s meet record mark of 208’ 4” leading the way. Concordia went 1-2-4-6-7-8 in the event with Zach Lurz (190’ 4”) finishing as the runner up. Slechta also turned in a seventh-place finish in the javelin (173’ 9”).

Gravo’s title in the pole vault gives Concordia five-straight GPAC champions in the event. Gravo, who jumped 12' 1 ½” on Friday, also won the indoor championship a year after program record holder Cassie Starks swept 2015 titles. The Bulldogs picked up another six points in the event with freshman Allison Brooks’ third-place claim. On the men’s side, Lucas Wiechman (third), Tyrell Reichert (seventh) and Ryan Gross (eighth) chipped in a combined nine points in the pole vault.

Wiechman also broke loose in the 110 meter hurdles with an automatic national qualifying time of 14.69, good for first in the preliminaries. In addition, Wiechman tops the field of 14 decathletes with 3,490 points with five events in the books. The native of Pilger, Neb., won the 100 meter dash in 11.03 as part of the decathlon.

Elsewhere on the track, Concordia’s 4x800 meter relays placed fourth (men) and fifth (women), respectively. Senior Jordan Potrzeba was the lone Bulldog to earn all-conference placement in the 10,000 meter run. He checked in eighth with a time of 34:56.42.

The second and final day of the GPAC championships picks up at 9 a.m. with the conclusion of the multi events on Saturday. The title chase will heat up around mid-day with field events starting at 12 p.m. and running events getting underway at 12:30 p.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place at roughly 6 p.m. View the event schedule HERE.

The men’s race projects to be a close battle between Concordia and Doane. The Bulldogs have won the last two outdoor conference titles.

“I think we’re looking pretty good to make a run at the title,” McLaughlin said. “Everything’s got to go the right way tomorrow. There are a lot of kids that have to step up and perform. It’s going to be a dog fight for the men.”

2016 GPAC outdoor champions

  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault)
  • Liz King (javelin, hammer)
  • Josh Slechta (*hammer)
    *meet record

Bulldogs claim 11 individual titles, two team runner ups

HASTINGS, Neb. – Amidst the smoky haze that rolled into Hastings, Neb., both Concordia University track and field squads recorded runner-up team finishes at the 2016 GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Over the two-day meet, seven Bulldogs combined on 11 individual conference titles with four athletes seizing championships in two events. Josh Slechta capped his huge weekend on Saturday by breaking his own school record in the discus.

The Concordia men totaled 177 points, just shy of the 184.5 they put up on the way to the 2015 conference outdoor title. Meanwhile, 24th-year head coach Kregg Einspahr’s women’s squad tallied 164 points. Doane claimed team titles on both sides.

Top-two league finishes have become the norm for the Bulldog programs, which have seen the women place first or second at the outdoor conference meet five-straight years. The men have done the same in each of the past four years, winning titles in 2014 and 2015.

“Our women scored out about how they were projected to and had a good meet overall,” Einspahr said. “McKenzie Gravo came through in the pole vault. She’s just had a great freshman season. Of course Kim Wood had another good day. It was a windy day or she may have been able to go for a meet record. Our throwers had another outstanding weekend.

“On the men’s side we scored out well ahead of where we were projected to on paper. Doane ended up scoring over 40 points more than the projection. Once in a while we’ve been able to do that to win the conference championship. We had a very good meet up and down the line.”

While GPAC titles are expected from the likes of Liz King and Kim Wood, senior Jacob Kettner did not enter Saturday’s triple jump as a favorite. But the native of Salem, Mo., rose to the occasion with a personal best of 47’ 2 ½” on his final jump of the day. That effort drew roars of approval from teammates and from the large contingent of family members that made the trip.

“This is surreal. It really is,” Kettner said. “I don’t know what happened. I felt good and I jumped well. It just happened that way.”

Slechta and King were the headliners for Concordia’s vaunted group of throwers. Slechta didn’t just settle for a meet record in the hammer throw on Friday, he came back on Saturday to win his second GPAC title of the weekend while breaking his own program record in the discus (180’ 4”). Also on Friday, King won the javelin and hammer throw competitions.

The additional Bulldog throwing title came via junior Kali Robb in the shot put. She drew near the school record (50’ 2”) with a personal best of 49’ 5” in winning the event by nearly three feet. Concordia went 1-3-4 in the women’s shot put with the usual suspects Stephanie Coley and Samantha Liermann falling in line behind Robb. The men’s shot produced an upset as national leader Zach Lurz placed fourth (53’ 5 ¾”), behind teammates Jose Rojas (second, 54’ 8 ¾”) and Trey Barnes (third, 54’ 3 ¼”). Backing Slechta’s title in the discus were Lurz (second), Barnes (fourth) and Rojas (sixth).

In terms of individual point scoring, no Bulldog competed better than junior Lucas Wiechman. He won both the decathlon (6,377 points) and the 110 meter hurdles. Wiechman saved personal bests in both the hurdles (14.60 – automatic national qualifying time) and the pole vault (15’ 11”) at the GPAC championships on his way to 30 individual points.

“I was able to put it all together after a week of recovery,” Wiechman said. “I took it easy on the training and everything. I focused on peaking this week. You just have to throw it up and see where you land.”

Winner of four 2016 GPAC indoor titles, senior Kim Wood concluded her conference meet career with two more wins. She took first in both the 800 and the 1,500 meter runs. She now has 12 career individual conference championships to her credit. She also ran the leadoff leg for the fifth-place 4x400 meter relay.

Not in competition on Saturday, King watched proudly as her teammates went 2-4-5-7 in the women’s discus (Kattie Cleveland runner up – 149’ 10”). That came a day after King led the way for the Bulldogs to place each of the top five in the women’s hammer.

“We had six of the nine girls in the finals,” King said. “That’s unheard of. That was just really fun for us. It’s cool for us knowing Coach (Ed McLaughlin) is proud of us as a group. We’re doing really well.”

While junior CJ Muller came up shy of a conference title, he recorded a second-place finish in the 400 meter dash and a third-place claim in the 200 (both times were season bests). He was also the anchor for a second-place time in the 4x400 meter relay (3:17.72). Also on the track, senior Trevor Bresson was second in the 400 hurdles (54.69). In addition to her pole vault title, Gravo placed fifth in the long jump. Concordia had 10 total all-conference claims in the jumps.

Top long distance running efforts were produced by the likes of Chris Shelton (fifth in steeplechase) and Cameron Moes (sixth in steeplechase). Emily Sievert placed seventh in the 5,000 meter run.

The weekend marked Einspahr’s final GPAC meet as head coach for Concordia track and field. He won 16 combined cross country and track and field conference titles during his 24-year run. Said Einspahr, “Coach (Ted) Bulling (of Nebraska Wesleyan), Coach (Ed) Fye (of Doane) and myself have been around a long time. Our programs have been at the top of the GPAC. It will be a little different meet next year without the three of us together.” Added Kettner, “It’s going to be different. That’s for sure. He’s a staple here at Concordia.”

The Bulldogs will compete in one additional meet before the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships take place May 26-28. Next up is the Prairie Wolf Invitational (May 13) hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan. The event schedule can be viewed HERE.

2016 GPAC champions

  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault)
  • Jacob Kettner (triple jump)
  • Liz King (hammer, javelin)
  • Kali Robb (shot put)
  • Josh Slechta (*hammer, discus)
  • Lucas Wiechman (110 meter hurdles, decathlon)
  • Kim Wood (800 meters, 1,500 meters)

*meet record

Forty-five Bulldogs officially recognized with all-conference honors

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Forty-five members of the Concordia University track and field program have officially been recognized as all-conference honorees (full list below) based on their performances at the 2016 GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Athletes earn all-conference recognition by placing in the top eight of an event. Both of 24th-year head coach Kregg Einspahr’s squads finished second at last week’s conference meet in Hastings, Neb.

The list of men’s award winners includes 24 athletes. Three of them combined to win five conference championships. Josh Slechta (discus and hammer) and Lucas Wiechman (decathlon and 110 hurdles) claimed two event titles apiece. Wiechman racked up 30 points alone by garnering all-conference accolades in four individual events. A dozen Bulldog men’s athletes were awarded all-conference laurels in multiple events. Throwers accounted for 15 total all-conference placements on the men’s side.

GPAC titlists McKenzie Gravo (pole vault), Liz King (hammer, javelin), Kali Robb (shot put) and Kim Wood (800 meters, 1,500 meters) headline the group of 21 women’s all-conference athletes. Fourteen received all-GPAC accolades in multiple events. Fifteen total all-conference honors came from throwers. King and Wood were Concordia’s individual leading point scorers with 20 apiece. Wood has now won 12 GPAC titles in her career.

The Bulldogs will compete in one additional meet before the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships take place May 26-28. Next up is the Prairie Wolf Invitational hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan on Friday. The event schedule can be viewed HERE.

MEN (24)

  • Adam Aschenbrenner (eighth in hammer)
  • Trey Barnes (third in shot put; fourth in discus)
  • Trevor Bresson (second in 400 meter hurdles; second in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Ryan Gross (eighth in pole vault)
  • Chris Hendricks (sixth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Scott Johnson (sixth in triple jump; eighth in long jump)
  • Jacob Kettner (first in triple jump)
  • Philip Kreutzer (third in hammer; seventh in shot put)
  • Zach Lurz (second in hammer; second in discus; fourth in shot put)
  • Thomas Matik (seventh in decathlon)
  • Nathan Matters (second in 4x400 meter relay; fourth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Cameron Moes (sixth in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • CJ Muller (second in 400 meter dash; second in 4x400 meter relay; third in 200 meter dash; fourth in 4x800 meter relay; sixth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Jordan Potrzeba (eighth in 10,000 meter run)
  • Tyrell Reichert (seventh in pole vault; eighth in triple jump)
  • Jose Rojas (second in shot put; fourth in hammer; sixth in discus)
  • Aivery Scheffer (sixth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Ben Schulteis (seventh in hammer)
  • Chris Shelton (fifth in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • Josh Slechta (first in discus; first in hammer; seventh in javelin)
  • Jaap van Gaalen (second in 4x400 meter relay; fourth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Josh Wendland (sixth in 110 meter hurdles)
  • Lucas Wiechman (first in decathlon; first in 110 meter hurdles; third in pole vault; fifth in 400 meter hurdles; sixth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Pat Wortmann (fourth in 4x800 meter relay)

WOMEN (21)

  • Anna Beune (fourth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Christy Beune (fourth in 4x100 meter relay; seventh in 100 meter dash; seventh in 200 meter dash)
  • Allison Brooks (third in pole vault)
  • Kattie Cleveland (second in discus; second in hammer)
  • Stephanie Coley (third in shot put; third in hammer; fifth in discus)
  • Tallie Elbert (fifth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • McKenzie Gravo (first in pole vault; fifth in long jump)
  • Melanie Jochimsen (fourth in 4x100 meter relay)
  • Liz King (first in hammer; first in javelin)
  • Leah Larson (sixth in triple jump; eighth in long jump)
  • Samantha Liermann (fourth in shot put)
  • Sydney Meyer (fifth in hammer; seventh in javelin)
  • Beth Rasmussen (fifth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Kali Robb (first in shot put; fourth in hammer; seventh in discus)
  • Jill Schroeder (fourth in 4x100 meter relay; seventh in long jump; eighth in triple jump)
  • Katelyn Shoup (fourth in triple jump)
  • Emily Sievert (seventh in 5,000 meter run)
  • Katricia Svoboda (second in javelin; fourth in discus)
  • Marti Vlasin (fifth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Kim Wood (first in 800 meter run; first in 1,500 meter run; fifth in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Quinn Wragge (fifth in 4x400 meter relay; fifth in 4x800 meter relay)

Just a freshman, free-spirited Gravo puts school records on notice

McKenzie Gravo has ascended to heights never before reached by freshmen pole vaulters at Concordia. Literally. Possessing the grace of Shawn Johnson and an endearing smile, the native of Henderson, Nev., is part of the next wave of great vaulters for the powerful Bulldog track and field program.

Cassie Starks, a 2015 graduate, is the current indoor and outdoor pole vault school record holder. For now. Says Concordia vault coach Jason Berry, “If it’s not McKenzie it’s going to be Allison Brooks (breaking the record). She’s right behind her. You look at freshmen that we’ve had here, McKenzie has by far the highest personal record for a freshman.”

A former avid gymnast, Gravo owns an outdoor pole vault clearance of 12’ 1 ½” – better than all but four female vaulters in all of the NAIA. Athleticism has never been a question for Gravo, who used to spend four-and-a-half hours daily training as a gymnast. Considering her incredible development as a freshman, the end-game possibilities appear limitless for the now two-time GPAC titlist.

The stage has never seemed too big for Gravo, who placed fifth at the 2016 NAIA indoor national championships. She’s jumping nearly two feet higher than she ever did previous to college while continually pushing her own boundaries.

“It’s kind of surreal. I don’t even think it’s real,” Gravo said of her early success. “It’s shown me the potential that I have. It’s really helped my confidence. Coming in here I thought maybe I could get to conference. I didn’t know if I could get to nationals. Now it’s, ‘I can do this. I can do that.’”

Talk to Gravo and you get the impression that confidence has always come natural for the athletically gifted product of Green Valley High School. Described by Berry as a “free spirit,” Gravo playfully chats it up with the competition during meets. It’s a free-and-easy style that has gotten results.

She smiles from ear-to-ear, engages in pleasantries with you, then jumps higher than you.

“She’s a very friendly person, very outgoing,” Berry said. “She’s someone that has endeared herself to not only her teammates but also the competition. They all know she’s really good but she’s very humble and she’s very sweet about the way she carries herself. You know she’s going to try to beat you, but she’s nice about it.”

Gravo didn’t have a clear leader when she began looking at different colleges. She liked Olivet Nazarene in Illinois. Other schools in Colorado and Washington emerged as contenders. She still had a visit scheduled to Concordia. She wanted to cancel it. She was ready to move to Washington. Her mother convinced her to take her visit to Concordia. Her flight had already been purchased.

Good move. Says Gravo, “As soon as I walked in the building I knew this was the place. I could see myself here. Once I met Jason that sealed the deal. He’s such a great coach and he was so personable. I was like, ‘this is where I need to be.’ It was a gut feeling I had.” She also liked how Berry helped transform Starks from mediocre high school vaulter to school record holder.

And so Gravo received a scholarship as a pole vaulter, something she would not have predicted as a youngster when she desired to go to college for gymnastics. She began as a gymnast at the age of three or four when she took classes. Then she started competing around fourth grade.

The physical demands and long training hours took their toll. Gravo broke her wrist four times, dislocated her shoulder, suffered numerous muscle tears and endured severe back pains. The mental anguish was also becoming an issue. She didn’t enjoy the toil like she used to, but she wanted still wanted to be an athlete. Switching to pole vault made sense. It was something her father and uncles had competed in.

Because pole vaulting requires such attention to technical detail, Gravo had to go through growing pains. She didn’t start vaulting with regularity until her junior year of high school.

“It didn’t come as easy as I thought it was going to come,” Gravo said. “I was pretty athletic from gymnastics and well-coordinated. It was just different. It was different how you went about things. I know when I first started out, if I didn’t make a PR or do really well I would get so mad. Pole vaulting has taught me how to learn to deal with things.”

Despite the late start, Gravo was still a state qualifier with a bright future ahead of her. Berry firmly believed it. Says Berry, “I knew she was going to be good. It was about trying to convince everyone that she could be really good. Some people were like, ‘she’s only a 10-something vaulter.’ I’m like, ‘trust me, she’ll be good.’ She’s proving me right so far. What I’m excited about is she’s jumping this high and she’s got a lot of things she can fix and a lot of growing to do. I’m excited about her potential.”

That word potential is thrown around a lot for someone who is already a GPAC champion and an All-American. The next domino to fall could be Starks’ outdoor pole vault record. Gravo will give it her best shot this year, knowing she’s got a lot of vaulting left in her. Says the confident Gravo, “In years coming up it’s going to be my name on the board.”

Beisel chosen to lead cross country and track and field programs

SEWARD, Neb. – Matt Beisel is set to make a return to his alma mater. The 1992 Concordia College graduate has been named head cross country and track and field coach, as announced by the Concordia University athletic department on Friday (May 13). Beisel fills the vacancy left by Kregg Einspahr, who will move to a full-time teaching role within the science department at the conclusion of this outdoor season. Einspahr has led the Bulldogs cross country and track programs since 1992.

Beisel’s coaching staff will include current full-time assistants Ed McLaughlin and Mark Samuels. Beisel will officially begin his duties as head coach on June 1.

Beisel, who spent six years (2008 – 2013) as head track and field coach at Concordia University-Chicago (CUC), where he also served four years as assistant cross country coach, possesses 21 years of coaching experience. He’s shifting back to the collegiate ranks after having been the head track and field and cross country coach as well as a science teacher at Valley Lutheran High School in Phoenix, Ariz., since 2014.

Wrote Beisel in a statement, “My wife Jill and I are extremely grateful to Director of Athletics Devin Smith, Associate Director of Athletics Angela Muller, Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics Gene Brooks and President Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich for their time, attention and support as we visited and worked through the decision-making process. I am honored to accept the call to take over programs that gave so much to me, and give back to the institution and the student-athletes it serves as I lead this program into the future. I believe that if Christ is first in our lives, everything else falls into place. This conviction has affected my personal life and shaped my philosophy in working with students and athletes for decades.”

A former all-district runner and national qualifier as a Bulldog, Beisel represents an ideal fit at Concordia. In each of his previous coaching stops he’s built Christ-centered programs that improved tremendously under his guidance. Beisel inherited an NCAA Division III CUC track program of just 12 athletes. That number grew to 65 (largest roster in school history) by the end of his tenure. The three-time Northern Athletics Conference (NAC) Coach of the Year guided the Cougar women to league titles in 2010 and 2012 and a runner-up finish at the 2012 outdoor conference meet. He coached 56 conference champions at CUC.

While at CUC, Beisel helped develop Antwon James into an All-American long jumper. As head coach of the Cougars, Beisel worked specifically with sprinters and relays groups and as high jump coach. He’s spent many years avidly studying and coaching speed and power development of athletes, as well as mechanics.

Prior to his time at CUC, Beisel won three cross country state championships as head coach from 2000 – 2007 at Lutheran High School in Little Rock, Ark. His boys and girls teams swept Arkansas cross country state titles in 2003. Beisel’s Lutheran High cross country and track programs recorded a total of seven top-five state championships finishes.

Everywhere he’s been, Beisel has increased participation in cross country and track. At his most recent position at Valley Lutheran, he more than doubled the boys and girls numbers in two years. In his first season leading girls cross country in Phoenix, Beisel took the team to its first-ever state championships appearance in 2014. It then placed 10th in the state in 2015.

Beisel graduated from Concordia with a B.S. in education. He went on to earn his M.S. in science education from the University of Iowa in 1997. Matt and his wife Jill have a daughter, Keegan, and son, Jonah.

Under Einspahr, Concordia’s cross country and track and field programs have won a total of 16 conference titles. The two-time NAIA national coach of the year and 19-time GPAC coach of the year led the 2015 men’s outdoor squad to the first-ever team national title in school history. He’s also overseen six team national runner-up finishes and a total of 25 individual track and field national titlists.

Statement from Devin Smith, Director of Athletics
Matt Beisel is the epitome of our Bulldog Nation in terms of our mission, vision, and core values. He is the right person at the right time for our cross country and track and field programs as one who will continue to build upon the successes that Coach Einspahr developed here at Concordia. I am so thankful that our student-athletes can have an experience that allows Coach Beisel and the current assistants to strive for excellence in the areas of academic achievement, spiritual and character development, as well as competitive greatness.

More from Beisel
As a graduating team captain for Concordia track & field in 1992, I interviewed Coach Einspahr as he was considering the position. As an alum, I’ve closely followed the many great accomplishments of Concordia cross country and track and have felt pride as I saw the ‘old gym’ and cinder track transformed into what we have now. As a Bulldog I loved my experience here, and was profoundly and positively affected while being equipped to serve Christ. With Christ as the main focus of a program, athletes and staff grow in their faith. A growth in faith combined with consistent team-building activities leads to a group of student-athletes who see their teammates as more important than themselves. The whole team gets better when an athlete knows their teammates and coaches care about them, and work harder to achieve their individual goals. In this environment, the lives of all involved are forever changed. When this team atmosphere is backed by solid recruiting, a natural outcome is worldly success. At the same time, championships are only icing on the cake of an already successful season.

Bulldogs compete at Prairie Wolf Invite

LINCOLN, Neb. – The second-ranked Concordia track and field team competed at the Prairie Wolf Invite on Friday. Seven Bulldogs set a new personal record and one tied a personal best mark. Concordia registered 17 NAIA qualifying marks during the meet.

Kim Wood set a new personal standard in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:35.82 to place first. The time was not only another national qualifying mark but also places her third on Concordia’s all-time list.

The Bulldog throwers again showed a dominant presence, taking 29 of the top-10 spots in seven different throwing events. The women set three new PR’s in the discus. Stephanie Coley took second place with a mark of 160-11. Kali Robb placed fourth and set her new career best at 151-11 which is 12’ further than her previous personal best. Jan Steinbrueck also set a new mark at 146-00 for ninth. Katricia Svoboda finished seventh with a throw of 148-05 while Kattie Cleveland recorded a toss of 143-10 for 10th place. All five reached NAIA qualifying marks in the discus.

Coley and Cleveland also registered top-10 qualifying marks in the hammer throw, placing third and sixth, respectively. Liz King finished second with a throw of 179-09. Tying a career best was Sydney Meyer who turned in a throw of 175-00 for fourth place.

On the men’s side, Josh Slechta placed first in the discus (175-07) and second in the hammer throw (200-05). Zach Lurz reached 167-05 in the discus for second place, 56-01.75 in the shot put also for second and 186-05 in the hammer for fifth. Setting personal bests in the hammer throw were Philip Kruetzer (177-06) and Adam Aschenbrenner (174-02) both were NAIA qualifying marks.

Tyrell Reichert finished in seventh place in the pole vault with a career high 15-01.75.

A handful of Concordia track and field athletes will compete tomorrow at the Emporia State Twilight Meet in Emporia, Kan. Action is slated to get underway at 4 p.m.

Below is a list of NAIA qualifying marks set at the Prairie Wolf Invite on Friday.

NAIA Qualifying Marks
Women
- Kattie Cleveland – hammer throw (172-11); discus (143-10)

- Stephanie Coley – hammer throw (177-09); discus (160-11)

- Liz King – hammer throw (179-09); javelin (140-04)

-Sydney Meyer – hammer throw (175-00)

-Kali Robb – discus (151-11)

-Jan Steinbrueck – discus (146-00)

-Katricia Svoboda – discus (148-05); javelin (134-06)

-Kim Wood – 1,500 meters (4:34.82)

Men
-Adam Aschenbrenner – hammer throw (174-02)

-Trey Barnes – discus (164-04); shot put (52-10.75)

-Philip Kreutzer – hammer throw (177-06)

-Zach Lurz – discus (167-05); shot put (56-01.75); hammer throw (186-05)

-Josh Slechta – discus (175-07); hammer throw (200-05)

Men's 4x4 takes title at Williams Twilight

EMPORIA, Kan. – In final pushes for national qualifying marks, a small group of Bulldogs represented Concordia University track and field at the Sam Williams Twilight Qualifier hosted by NCAA Division II institution Emporia State University (Kan.) on Saturday evening. While the Bulldog men’s 4x400 meter relay missed out the automatic national qualifying time it sought, it managed to top the field of seven relays in the event.

The men’s 4x4, which placed second at last week’s GPAC championships, finished in 3:17.77. The group included the usual suspects in Jaap van Gaalen, Nathan Matters, Trevor Bresson and CJ Muller. They were just off their season best time of 3:17.40 from the Drake Relays.

Senior Katelyn Shoup placed second in the triple jump by turning in a mark of just under 37 feet. Ranked fourth among GPAC triple jumpers, Shoup came up short of an automatic national qualifying triple jump this season. Her top mark of 2016 was 37’ 4 ½” at Friday’s Prairie Wolf Invite. Sophomore Tyrell Reichert also competed in the pole vault but did not record a height.

Concordia’s large group of national qualifiers now gets set for the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, which will unfold May 26-28 in Gulf Shores, Ala. For more information on the national meet, click HERE. The Bulldogs are coming off of third (men) and fifth (women) place finishes at the 2016 indoor national championships.

Formerly overshadowed Slechta peaking as senior

At 6-foot-6 and possessing considerable strength, Josh Slechta is the type of athlete that can roll off the bus and hurl implements preposterous distances. Case in point: the 2016 GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The second and final day of the conference meet coincided with Slechta’s graduation at Concordia. He walked across the stage, got his diploma and then raced out to Hastings with two of his teammates.

In Home Alone fashion, they made it just in time to begin warmups prior to the first flight of the discus, which included Slechta. The native of Kennard, Neb., entered the meet as the conference leader, but nothing is a given in a sport that requires you to be the best on that given day, no matter the circumstances. All Slechta did was pop off a school record toss of 180’ 4” while winning his second conference title in as many days.

Leading into next week’s national championships, Slechta has enjoyed a historically great outdoor season, even for a program that produces All-American throwers with nearly the same frequency as Donald Trump jokes fly on late-night talk shows (OK, maybe not that much). You get the idea. Slechta is a late bloomer who now owns a national title in the weight throw, two conference championships and a GPAC meet record to his credit.

“The national championship was pretty surreal. I wasn’t expecting to place that high,” Slechta said. “Once I threw that first mark out there it was kind of an eye opener. It made me realize that I can really do something. Then at this year’s GPAC meet I only really had expectations for the hammer throw. Discus was anyone’s game. It was pretty crazy coming out on top in both of those, but I had teammates right behind me in those events.”

Slechta’s collegiate success blows away his high school achievements by a country mile. He played baseball, basketball and football at Creighton Prep in Omaha, but he didn’t even start throwing until his junior year of high school. It was awkward at first. It took time to get the technical aspects down. He was still learning when he arrived in Seward.

Even after marginal prep accomplishments (one state championships appearance), Slechta knew he wanted to continue competing. He desired to play football and to throw somewhere in college. He was recruited heavily by Concordia as a tight end in football and it wasn’t a hard sell for throws coach Ed McLaughlin, who was tantalized by Slechta’s height alone. The football staff asked McLaughlin if there was also room for Slechta on the track team. “When they told me he was 6-6, I said, ‘we have room for him.’ You don’t turn down height.”

Added McLaughlin, “I thought, ‘this kid could really turn into something with as tall and as strong as he is.’ He was looked at as a little bit of a project, but you knew with his size and strength that something could click for him.”

It took time for things to click, but part of that was simply due to the fact that Slechta was also a starting tight end, who put intense focus into football in both the fall and spring. Plus there were significant challenges on the injury front. He faced setbacks due to a broken collarbone as a junior and then missed more than half of his senior football season due to a severely torn left pectoral muscle. Through his dedication, Slechta made it back to the ring quicker than doctors anticipated.

“It’s really crazy to think about it when you go back and realize that he didn’t start throwing until February,” McLaughlin said. “Everyone else is throwing in the fall and doing stuff over Christmas break. Josh wasn’t allowed to put anything in his left hand until the last week of January. He wasn’t allowed to throw anything until the second week of February. Rep-wise he is still months and months behind everybody else. The fact that he got back from his injury in time for indoor is the most amazing part.”

At his very first indoor meet, Slechta qualified for nationals in the weight throw. Not yet fully recovered, he repeated as an All-American in the event in kick-starting an astounding senior campaign that’s gotten better with age. With a personal best of 154 feet in the discus as a junior, Slechta wasn’t supposed to be able to challenge Corbin Jones’ program record of 178’ 8” in the event.

“The first three years I never really got the concept of it,” Slechta said. “I would always rush through my turn and not really use my length or my legs with it. Coach forced me to keep my arm back and really drive through with my hips before I would release it. Once that clicked I had an idea of what I needed to do. We’ve been building on it ever since.”

Once overshadowed by the likes of other national champions and current teammates in Cody Boellstorff and Zach Lurz, Slechta has risen to the front of the pack. He will enter next week’s national championships ranked No. 2 in the NAIA in both the hammer and the discus. If things break right, Slechta could end up walking away with more glitzy hardware.

Slechta isn’t going to bloviate about his surprise 2015 national title, any of his records or other individual achievements, but it’s clear his mental game has advanced. Says McLaughlin, “The biggest difference with him now is that he’s more confident than he’s ever been.”

The humble Slechta has a lot of people to thank for his rapid development that has seen him emerge from the nation’s best and deepest group of throwers. Late starts. Injuries. Same-day graduation. Two-sport commitment. Nothing has stopped him. “Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Slechta said. “This is a great team-oriented environment with great people and a great coach. It’s everything I could ask for.”

Twenty-three Bulldogs bound for Gulf Shores

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A group of 23 Bulldogs have officially been named qualifiers for the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. The 65th annual men’s event and 36th annual women’s event will play out next week (May 26-28) in Gulf Shores, Ala., the site of the Concordia men’s 2015 team national title.

Tabbed the 2015 NAIA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field National Coach of the Year, Kregg Einspahr will travel a total of 11 men’s athletes to Alabama. That bunch includes 2015 national championships performer of the meet Zach Lurz, a two-time national champion in the shot put. Lurz is one of seven men’s throwers that qualified for the national championships while putting up 14 automatic marks. Lurz and Jose Rojas will both compete in three throwing events. Junior Lucas Wiechman, GPAC titlist in the decathlon and 110 meter hurdles, will also represent Concordia in three events.

Twelve Bulldog women are among the national qualifiers, including current NAIA national leaders Stephanie Coley (discus) and Kali Robb (shot put). Coley, Robb and seven other female throwers will make their way down south after compiling 16 automatic qualifying marks. Senior Liz King will attempt to duplicate her 2014 national title in the javelin in her final meet as a Bulldog. It will also be the final outing for star runner Kim Wood, a 12-time GPAC champion. She will take the track in the 800 and 1,500 meter races.

First-time national qualifiers are seniors Adam Aschenbrenner (hammer) and Jacob Kettner (triple jump), freshman Tyrell Reichert (pole vault) and sophomore Jan Steinbrueck (discus).

The multi-events kick off the NAIA National Championships on May 26 with the men’s decathlon at 10 a.m. CDT. In the women’s heptathlon, event’s get started at 10:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 26 and precede trials of the relays.

Stretch Internet, the NAIA’s official video-streaming company of NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the events on www.NAIANetwork.com. A subscription package to view the entire three-day event is $14.95. For more information, including how to register and sign-up for an account, click here.

For more information on the 2016 NAIA Men’s & Women’s Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, click here.

2016 NAIA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championships Qualifiers
Men’s Qualifiers by School – HTML
Men’s Qualifiers by Event – HTML

2016 NAIA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championships Qualifiers
Women’s Qualifiers by School – HTML
Women’s Qualifiers by Event - HTML

MEN

  • Adam Aschenbrenner, Senior
    -Hammer (18th, 174’ 2”)
  • Trey Barnes, Sophomore
    -Shot put (5th, 55’ 6 ½”)
    -Discus (14th, 164’ 11”)
  • Philip Kreutzer, Junior
    -Shot put (21st, 51’ 4 ½”)
    -Hammer (13th, 177’ 6”)
  • Jacob Kettner, Senior
    -Triple Jump (14th, 47’ 2 ½”)
  • Zach Lurz, Senior
    -Shot put (1st, 59’ 1 ¼”)
    -Discus (5th, 175’ 11”)
    -Hammer (4th, 194’ 7”)
  • CJ Muller, Junior
    -200 meter dash (25th, 21.54)
    -400 meter dash (25th, 48.40)
  • Tyrell Reichert, Freshman
    -Pole Vault (17th, 15’ 1 ¾”)
  • Jose Rojas, Senior
    -Shot put (9th, 54’ 8 ¾”)
    -Discus (17th, 162’ 7”)
    -Hammer (3rd, 195’ 2”)
  • Ben Schulteis, Senior
    -Hammer (22nd, 172’ 9”)
  • Josh Slechta, Senior
    -Discus (2nd, 180’ 4”)
    -Hammer (2nd, 210’ 10”)
  • Lucas Wiechman, Junior
    -110 meter hurdles (6th, 14.60)
    -Pole vault (9th, 15’ 11”)
    -Decathlon (7th, 6400) 

WOMEN

  • Allison Brooks, Freshman
    -Pole Vault (19th, 11’ 5 ¾”)
  • Kattie Cleveland, Senior
    -Discus (7th, 149’ 10”)
    -Hammer (4th, 181’ 9”)
  • Stephanie Coley, Senior
    -Shot put (4th, 46’ 6 ¾”)
    -Discus (1st, 160’ 11”)
    - Hammer (3rd, 181’ 11”)
  • McKenzie Gravo, Freshman
    -Pole vault (6th, 12’ 1 ½”)
  • Liz King, Senior
    -Hammer (2nd, 183’ 9”)
    -Javelin (3rd, 154’ 1”)
  • Samantha Liermann, Freshman
    -Shot put (3rd, 47’ 7”)
    -Hammer (29th, 156’ 4”)
  • Sydney Meyer, Junior
    -Hammer (6th, 175’)
  • Nicole Perry, Senior
    -Hammer (16th, 165’ 4”)
  • Kali Robb, Junior
    -Shot put (1st, 49’ 5”)
    -Discus (5th, 151’ 11”)
    -Hammer (7th, 174’ 5”)
  • Jan Steinbrueck, Sophomore
    -Discus (13th, 146’)
  • Katricia Svoboda, Junior
    -Discus (3rd, 158’)
    -Javelin (11th, 135’ 3”)
  • Kim Wood, Senior
    -800 meter run (4th, 2:10.56)
    -1,500 meter run (20th, 4:35.82)

Einspahr, McLaughlin and King pull in NAIA regional awards

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Two Concordia coaches and one athlete garnered Midwest Region honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday. Awarded by the USTFCCCA, 24th-year coach Kregg Einspahr collected NAIA Midwest Region Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year, Ed McLaughlin earned both men’s and women’s NAIA Midwest Region Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year accolades and senior Liz King picked up NAIA Midwest Region Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year billing.

A two-time NAIA national coach of the year, Einspahr owns a seemingly endless number of coaching honors in his astounding career. The 1982 Concordia graduate has been named GPAC coach of the year 19 combined times in either cross country or track and field. He has guided Bulldog teams to a combined 16 conference titles, one team national championship and six national runner-up finishes. Heading into this week’s national championships, Einspahr’s teams boast national ratings of second on the women’s side and third on the men’s side.

McLaughlin, in his 18th year assisting Einspahr as throws coach, has swept indoor and outdoor men’s and women’s NAIA Midwest Region coaching awards in 2016. This past indoor season the USTFCCCA also tabbed McLaughlin as the NAIA National Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year. The Concordia alum helped Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Zach Lurz (shot put) to 2016 national titles. At the GPAC outdoor championships, King (hammer, javelin), Kali Robb (shot put) and Josh Slechta (hammer, discus) combined to win five throwing conference titles. A total of 16 Bulldog throwers are set to compete at the national championships.

King, the 2014 NAIA javelin national champion, currently ranks second nationally in the hammer (183’ 9”) and third in the javelin (154’ 1”). This outdoor season the native of Billings, Mont., completed a run of four-straight GPAC titles in the javelin. She also won the conference hammer throw championship for the second-straight year. King is Concordia’s school record in the javelin with a career best mark of 166’ 11,” achieved in 2014. She is a five-time All-American.

A group of 23 Concordia athletes are headed to Gulf Shores, Ala., to compete at the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, which will unfold Thursday through Saturday at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium.

King puts on a show; Bulldog squads take NAIA lead into day two

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Senior Liz King went out in style while making her final appearance as a Bulldog on Thursday as part of day one of the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. King won a national title in the hammer throw and finished as the runner up in the javelin in a huge final collegiate effort. King was one of nine Bulldogs to lock up All-America awards during Thursday’s action.

The large stable of star throwers allowed both Concordia squads to come away from Thursday as the team national leaders in the NAIA. The Bulldog men, the defending outdoor national champs, have totaled 22 points. Meanwhile, the women have racked up a total of 32 points. Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s squads entered the weekend ranked second (women) and third (men) nationally according to computer ratings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Always a crowd favorite, King obliged the shouts of ‘c’mon, King’ by whirling the hammer throw a first-place and season best distance of 188’ ¼” in holding off the runner up from Siena Heights (Mich.) and a host of teammates in the event. It’s an event she actually wanted to give up at one point.

“I still don’t like it. Don’t mistake me, I still just don’t like it,” King joked afterwards. “All the credit goes to (throws coach) Ed (McLaughlin). I’m not the biggest girl. I’m not the tallest. I’m not the widest. I’m not the heaviest. I had to focus on technique. Technique is all coach.”

King popped off another big throw of 161’ 6 ½” in the javelin and took an early lead in her bid for a second national title in a single day. However, Seri Geisler of Valley City State (N.D.) unleashed a throw of 168’ 6 ¾” and King had to settle for second place as part of a stellar day. She became the 50th national titlist in program history and the first female thrower to record multiple national championships.

No NAIA program in the country has a deeper group of hammer throwers than Concordia, which went 1-4-5-6 on the women’s side and 2-3-4-6 on the men’s side. Women’s throwers to join King with All-America honors in the hammer were Stephanie Coley (fourth), Kali Robb (fifth) and Kattie Cleveland (sixth). Coley, a senior from Gering, Neb., now owns nine career All-America plaques.

Junior Zach Lurz, the performer of the meet at the 2015 outdoor national championships, can do one better. He owns 10 career All-America honors after finishing fourth in the hammer. Senior Josh Slechta placed second, Jose Rojas third and Philip Kreutzer sixth in the hammer. Kreutzer was the biggest surprise for the Bulldogs. His mark of 186’ 8” put him well out in front of his previous personal best.

“It’s nice to get it out there. I knew I had it in me all year long,” Kreutzer said. “At the end of last year I started hitting marks close to 180. It feels good.”

A national qualifier in three different events, junior Lucas Wiechman has put himself in great position in the decathlon heading into day two. He has piled up 3,476 points and sits in third place halfway through the decathlon. A five-time All-American, Wiechman will also take the track on Friday for the 110 meter hurdles trials at 1:45 p.m.

In the pole vault, McKenzie Gravo wrapped up a tremendous freshman season with her second All-America claim in 2016. She also swept indoor and outdoor GPAC titles. On Thursday she placed seventh by clearing 12’ 1 ½” – equaling her outdoor season best. Fellow freshman Allie Brooks set a new personal standard of 11’ 10” and placed 11th in what is only a start to a promising career.

On the track, senior Kim Wood (1,500 meters) and junior CJ Muller (200 meters) came up short of times worthy of qualifying for the finals of their respective events. Both athletes will be back on the track on Friday. Wood will run the trials of the 800 meters and Muller will compete in the 200 meters.

Senior Adam Aschenbrenner competed in the hammer throw on Thursday and threw 164’ 10 ½” in his first career national championship appearance. Three other Bulldogs will make their championships debut this weekend: Jacob Kettner (triple jump), Tyrell Reichert (pole vault) and Jan Steinbrueck (discus).

Day two at the 2016 outdoor national championships resumes at 10 a.m. on Friday when the decathlon picks up. Ten Bulldog athletes are scheduled to be in action throughout the day (see below).

2016 Concordia outdoor All-Americans

  • Kattie Cleveland (hammer – 6th)
  • Stephanie Coley (hammer – 4th)
  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault – 7th)
  • Liz King (hammer – 1st; javelin – 2nd)
  • Philip Kreutzer (hammer – 6th)
  • Zach Lurz (hammer – 4th)
  • Kali Robb (hammer – 5th)
  • Jose Rojas (hammer – 3rd)
  • Josh Slechta (hammer – 2nd)

Friday (May 27) schedule

10 a.m. – Men’s Decathlon
(Wiechman)

1 p.m. – Women’s Shot Put
(Coley, Liermann, Robb)

2 p.m. – Women’s 800m trials
(Wood)

3:50 p.m. – Men’s 400m trials
(Muller)

5 p.m. – Men’s Discus
(Barnes, Lurz, Rojas, Slechta)

All-America count climbs to 16 as Bulldogs retain national lead

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Led by its thoroughbred throwers, the Concordia University track and field teams have positioned themselves for a special finish to the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. Thanks to 17 points piled up in the shot put during Friday’s action in Gulf Shores, Ala., the Bulldog women now own 49 total points and a 26-point lead over second-place Missouri Baptist. The men’s 37 points give them a 15-point spread above second-place Indiana Tech.

A year after a men’s outdoor national title, the Concordia women enter the final day of the championship meet with a chance at grabbing their first-ever national banner.

“It’s amazing. We still have one more day and five more girls to compete tomorrow in the throws,” said Kali Robb, Friday’s national runner up in the shot put. “It’s amazing. We’re going to keep pushing through and hopefully get us girls the national championship and have Coach (Kregg) Einspahr go out with a national championship.”

Robb starred as one of three Concordia All-Americans in the women’s shot put. Senior Stephanie Coley, now a 10-time All-American, added her seventh career All-America plaque in the shot put. Coley placed fourth while freshman Samantha Liermann checked in at No. 5.

On the women’s side, five throwers have combined for eight All-America honors while serving as the driving force in lifting the Bulldogs to the top of the national standings. Now they want to stay there.

“We’re right where we wanted to be at this point,” said Einspahr, who is coaching his final national meet as head coach at Concordia. “Our women in particular are really on track to do some good things. We’ve got points on the board so now people have to catch us. We’re in good shape. The women are in a good place right now. We only have two events for the women tomorrow so we need to come through with that.”

Junior Lucas Wiechman turned in the highest finish among Concordia male athletes this championship weekend by placing second in the decathlon. He totaled 6,858 points and placed behind event record-breaker Kale Wolken of Doane. A qualifier in three events, Wiechman will compete in the pole vault on Saturday as the men also attempt to stay in the title chase on the meet’s final day.

“It’s awesome to see the teams coming together,” Wiechman said. “Everyone’s feeding off each other’s excitement. We’re cheering each other on. It’s awesome.”

The men’s discus gave way to two additional Concordia All-Americans with Josh Slechta placing fifth and Zach Lurz sixth. Both Lurz and Slechta have two All-America plaques apiece on the weekend. The title was the 11th in the career of Lurz, who is a two-time shot put national titlist and the reigning NAIA outdoor track and field national championships performer of the meet.

A 12-time GPAC titlist and six-time All-American, senior Kim Wood extended her career another day by placing seventh overall in the prelims of the 800 meter race, an event in which Wood owns the program school record. She finished the race in a time of 2:13.86 on Friday.

Elsewhere on the track, junior CJ Muller narrowly missed out on the finals of the 400 meter race. He placed ninth with a personal best time of 48.37, good for third in his heat. Wiechman also missed out on the finals while competing in the prelims of the 110 meter hurdles.

If things break right on Saturday, another red banner could make its way to the Walz Fieldhouse. Einspahr and his athletes just don’t want to get ahead of themselves.

“There are a lot of things you cannot control,” Einspahr said. “You have no idea if a team is going to come out and go 1-2-3 in a couple of events. You just take care of yourself. We’re not getting too wound up about things at this point. You make a big mistake if you try to put a whole lot of pressure on the team.”

2016 Concordia outdoor All-Americans

  • Kattie Cleveland (hammer – 6th)
  • Stephanie Coley (shot put – 4th; hammer – 4th)
  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault – 7th)
  • Liz King (hammer – 1st; javelin – 2nd)
  • Philip Kreutzer (hammer – 6th)
  • Samantha Liermann (shot put – 5th)
  • Zach Lurz (hammer – 4th; discus – 6th)
  • Kali Robb (shot put – 2nd; hammer – 5th)
  • Jose Rojas (hammer – 3rd)
  • Josh Slechta (hammer – 2nd; discus – 5th)
  • Lucas Wiechman – (decathlon – 2nd)

Concordia women seize first national title; men finish runner up

GULF SHORES, Ala. – For the second-straight year, Concordia University track and field has departed from Gulf Shores, Ala., with an oversized red banner. The Bulldogs were crowned national champions for the first time in the history of the women’s program a year after the Concordia men captured the school’s first-ever team national title at the very same venue.

Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s Concordia women piled up 71 points and held off a late push from Indiana Tech in coming out on top at the three-day 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. Meanwhile, the men, national leaders after days one and two, ended up with 52 points and a runner-up finish behind Indiana Tech. Zach Lurz headlined individual performances on Saturday by winning his third career shot put national title with a school record toss.

“We thought we had two good teams,” Einspahr said. “We have a lot of juniors and seniors that have been here before and with that we thought we had a chance. This is just a dream come true to be able to win another national championship. You always hope to be in that position someday. What a wonderful feeling for the whole coaching staff and athletes who work so hard. They’re so representative of what Concordia is about.”

The Bulldog women held a 10-point lead heading into the final event, the 4x400 meter relay that included a quartet from Indiana Tech. When the Warriors fell short of a first-place relay finish needed for a championship tie, members of the Concordia team celebrated, arms around each other, by dancing in a circle. Einspahr joined them while high-fiving his athletes.

The national title was made possible by an unprecedented group of throwers, headed by Liz King, the national champion in the hammer throw and runner up in the javelin. King and the female throwers racked up 66 of the team’s 71 points. Stephanie Coley and Kali Robb both turned in All-America performances in three different throwing events. They were two of four All-Americans on Saturday in the discus in an effort crucial to remaining atop the team standings (Tricia Svoboda was runner up).

“It’s always hard to put into words,” said throws coach Ed McLaughlin, named the NAIA Midwest Region outdoor men’s and women’s assistant coach of the year. “I can’t really explain what happened. We came into it thinking it was a possibility. To actually pull it off is just amazing. The girls talked about this last year. They wanted this.”

Senior Kim Wood also produced three critical points on the track with a sixth-place finish in the finals of the 800 meter race on Saturday. Wood clocked in at 2:12.38 for her seventh career All-America award. Wood let loose with a giant “wooooo!” afterwards in fitting ending for the 12-time GPAC champion. “It feels so good,” Wood said. “I can’t believe it really happened. It’s really great to be part of a team that can do that. It’s just incredible to be able to go out on it.”

Lurz broke his own record in the outdoor shot put on his third throw of the day, registering a mark of 59’ 5 ¼” – which outdistanced the runner up by nearly a foot-and-a-half. Now a junior, the native of Chadron, Neb., has 2015 indoor, 2016 indoor and 2016 outdoor shot put titles and 12 career All-America awards to his credit. He was a major reason why the Concordia men won the 2015 outdoor national title.

“I was really hungry to win it for outdoor,” Lurz said of his shot put trophy. “The last couple years have been pretty bittersweet for me. I put together a good series with four throws around 17.50 (meters) or higher. It was one of the best series of my life.”

Lurz delivered three of the Concordia track program’s 23 total All-America performances on the weekend. Twenty of those came out of throwing events. Jose Rojas joined Lurz as an All-American in the shot put on Saturday while Kattie Cleveland, Coley, Robb and Tricia Svoboda were the latest throwing All-Americans courtesy of their efforts in the discus.

Concordia has become an especially dominant program for throwers.

“It was very exciting,” Coley said of the women’s discus performances on Saturday. “I wasn’t sure if we could pull it off. Last year we were just so drained on this day. I knew it was going to be really challenging. We did exactly what we were supposed to do.”

The Bulldog men have now placed inside the top five at four-straight national championship meets. The women have done the same at each of the last three national championships. This weekend’s championship sent Einspahr out a winner. Now a three-time national coach of the year, Einspahr will shift to a full-time teaching role. Matt Beisel, a 1992 Concordia graduate, was tabbed as the successor on May 13.

2016 Concordia outdoor All-Americans

  • Kattie Cleveland (hammer – 6th; discus – 7th)
  • Stephanie Coley (discus – 3rd; shot put – 4th; hammer – 4th)
  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault – 7th)
  • Liz King (hammer – 1st; javelin – 2nd)
  • Philip Kreutzer (hammer – 6th)
  • Samantha Liermann (shot put – 5th)
  • Zach Lurz (shot put – 1st; hammer – 4th; discus – 6th)
  • Kali Robb (shot put – 2nd; hammer – 5th; discus – 6th)
  • Jose Rojas (hammer – 3rd; shot put – 4th)
  • Josh Slechta (hammer – 2nd; discus – 5th)
  • Tricia Svoboda (discus – 2nd)
  • Lucas Wiechman – (decathlon – 2nd)
  • Kim Wood – (800 meters – 6th)

Women top nation; teams combine for team-high Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athletes

Women's Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes

Men's Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes

SEWARD, Neb. – A combined total of 29 (20 women, nine men) Concordia University track and field athletes have been named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, as announced by the NAIA on Monday. Just days after capturing the national title, the women led the nation in scholar-athletes. The 29 combined honored Bulldogs was more than any other school’s total. Seventeen of those honorees are repeat winners (view complete list below).

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. A total of 451 women’s and 302 men’s track and field student-athletes across the nation were named scholar-athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,300 and counting. So far, the 2015-16 season has produced 86 Bulldog scholar-athletes. The 2014-15 season culminated with GPAC-leading totals of 94 Bulldog scholar-athletes and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams. During the 2013-14 academic year, Concordia garnered 101 Scholar-Athlete honorees (most in the NAIA) and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams (tied for fourth nationally).

Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Neb., that currently serves over 2,200 students. Concordia offers more than 50 professional and liberal arts programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world.

2016 Concordia track and field Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes

Men (9)

  • Trevor Bresson | Sr. | Colorado Springs, Colo. | Biology, Pre-Nursing
  • Christian Egger | Jr. | Galva, Iowa | Secondary Education
  • Thomas Hinrichs |Sr. | Auburn, Neb. | Middle Level Education
  • Jacob Kettner | Sr. | Salem, Mo. | Exercise Science, Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Taylor Mueller | Sr. | Cedar Rapids, Iowa | Secondary Education, History
  • CJ Muller | Jr. | Omaha, Neb. | Exercise Science
  • Andrew Mussell | Jr. | Buffalo, Minn. | Director of Christian Education
  • Benjamin Schulteis | Sr. | Greenfield, Iowa | Secondary Education
  • Jaap van Gaalen | Sr.| Ramstein AFB, Germany | Conservation Science

Women (20)

  • Christine Beune | Jr. | Dodge, Neb. | Exercise Science
  • Stephanie Coley | Sr. | Gering, Neb. | English
  • Michaela Curran | Sr. | Wahoo, Neb. | Secondary Education, Mathematics
  • Alayna Daberkow | Jr. | Madison, Neb. | Marketing
  • Morgan Eggert | Jr. | Atkins, Iowa | Behavioral Science
  • Talitha Elbert | Sr. | Albuquerque, N.M. | Secondary Education
  • Breanna Gardels | Jr. | Humphrey, Neb. | Behavioral Science, Psychology
  • Liz King | Sr. | Billings, Mont. | Secondary Education, History & Spanish
  • Fallon Kostbahn | Jr. | Grand Island, Neb. | Elementary/ Early Childhood Education
  • Cynthia Mick | Sr. | Carleton, Neb.
  • Candace Norman-Kolling | Sr. | Crawford, Neb. | English, History
  • Lauren Pankow | Sr. | Milwaukee, Wis. | Elementary/ Early Childhood Education
  • Nicole Perry | Sr. | Menifee, Calif. | Secondary Education, Environmental Science
  • Beth Rasmussen | Jr. | Omaha, Neb. | World & Intercultural Studies, Spanish
  • Katelyn Shoup | Sr. | Hordville, Neb. | Elementary Education
  • Emily Sievert | Jr. | Frankenmuth, Mich. | Secondary Education, English & Music
  • Angie Steinbacher | Jr. | St. Charles, Mo. | Elementary Education
  • Jordyn Sturms | Jr. | Parker, Colo. | Art Education
  • Marti Vlasin | Jr. | Seward, Neb. | Middle Level Education
  • Kim Wood | Sr. | Greely, Neb. | Behavioral Science, Psychology

Coley, Muller and Wood earn academic all-district distinction

Men’s T&F/XC all-district teams | Women’s T&F/XC all-district teams

SEWARD, Neb. – A top program in the nation athletically, Concordia University track and field also continues to net academic honors. Last week (May 26) Stephanie Coley, CJ Muller and Kim Wood were named Academic All-District™ selections by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). All three Bulldogs were placed on District 3 College Division teams.

The CoSIDA Academic All-District™ Men’s and Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. For more information about the Academic All-District™ and Academic All-America® Teams program, please visit http://cosida.com.

Coley, a senior from Gering, Neb., is now a two-time academic all-district choice. She earned her degree in English this May. Coley collected All-America awards in three different throwing events at the NAIA outdoor championships for the national championship winning Concordia women. Muller and Wood are each receiving the academic all-district award for the first team. Muller, an Omaha native, is a junior majoring in exercise science. Wood, also a 2016 outdoor All-American, completed her degrees in behavioral science and psychology.

Coley, Muller and Wood are members of a long list of Concordia athletes to receive all-district accolades over the past two seasons. The 2014-15 academic year saw a school record 11 Bulldogs collect such recognition. This year’s all-district honorees also include Amy Ahlers (golf), Chandler Folkerts (men’s basketball), Hallick Lehmann (football), Adam Meirose (football) and Becky Mueller (women’s basketball). Folkerts and Lehman also earned Academic All-America laurels.

The College Division of District 3 includes the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. GPAC athletes made up seven of the 12 District 3 cross country/track choices on the women’s side and six of the 12 on the men’s side.

Concordia’s all-district honorees will now be eligible for Academic All-America accolades. Those award winners will be announced by CoSIDA on June 9.

2015-16 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Amy Ahlers, Golf
Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball
CJ Muller, Track & Field
Kim Wood, Cross Country/Track & Field

2014-15 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Brendan Buchanan, Soccer
Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Jaydee Jurgensen, Baseball
Adam Meirose, Football
Bailey Morris, Basketball
*Rachel Mussell, Soccer
Shawn Rodehorst, Golf
Ben Sievert, Cross Country/Track & Field
Melissa Stine, Soccer

Thirteen Bulldogs earn multiple NAIA All-American awards

SEWARD, Neb. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has announced the ASICS-NAIA Outdoor Track & Field All-Americans for the 2016 season. Concordia placed 13 on the list, including two national titles. Seven of the Bulldogs were named All-Americans in more than one event.

The Concordia women’s team, which had eight All-Americans, finished atop the podium at the national championships May 26-28 with 71 team points. The men finished the runner up of the national meet with 52 points. In order to receive the All-American accolades, the student-athletes must place in the top-eight at the NAIA Championships.

Among those honored were Zach Lurz who received his 12th All-American awards and third national title in the shot put. Only four other Concordia athletes have three or more career individual national titles. On the women’s side, Liz King raked in her second career national title after taking first place in the hammer throw. King has amassed seven All-American awards in her career at Concordia. Leading the women in All-American awards is Stephanie Coley who scored her ninth, 10th and 11th awards after placing in the top-four in the discus, shot put and hammer throw.

Below is a list of the 2016 outdoor and indoor All-Americans along with the number of All-American awards each student-athlete has received through the indoor and outdoor seasons.

2016 Concordia Outdoor All-Americans

  • Kattie Cleveland (hammer – 6th; discus – 7th) (All-American awards: 3)
  • Stephanie Coley (discus – 3rd; shot put – 4th; hammer – 4th) (All-American awards: 11)
  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault – 7th) (All-American awards: 2)
  • Liz King (hammer – 1st; javelin – 2nd) (All-American awards: 7; two national titles)
  • Philip Kreutzer (hammer – 6th) (All-American awards: 2)
  • Samantha Liermann (shot put – 6th) (All-American awards: 2)
  • Zach Lurz (shot put – 1st; hammer – 4th; discus – 6th) (All-American awards: 12; three national titles)
  • Kali Robb (shot put – 2nd;  hammer – 5th; discus – 6th) (All-American awards: 7)
  • Jose Rojas (hammer – 3rd; shot put – 4th) (All-American awards: 4)
  • Josh Slechta (hammer – 2nd; discus – 5th) (All-American awards: 5)
  • Tricia Svoboda (discus – 2nd) (All-American awards: 2)
  • Lucas Wiechman (decathlon – 2nd) (All-American awards: 6)
  • Kim Wood (800 meters – 6th) (All-American awards: 7)

2016 Concordia Indoor All-Americans

  • Trey Barnes (shot put – 8th)
  • Cody Boellstorff (weight throw – 1st)
  • Trevor Bresson (4x400m relay – 8th)
  • Kattie Cleveland (weight throw – 6th)
  • Stephanie Coley (shot put – 3rd; weight throw – 7th)
  • McKenzie Gravo (pole vault – 5th)
  • Liz King (weight throw – 8th)
  • Philip Kreutzer (weight throw – 7th)
  • Samantha Liermann (shot put – 2nd)
  • Zach Lurz (shot put – 1st; weight throw – 3rd)
  • Nathan Matters (4x400m relay – 8th)
  • CJ Muller (600 meters – 6th; 4x400m relay – 8th)
  • Kali Robb (shot put – 6th; weight throw – 4th)
  • Jose Rojas (shot put – 2nd)
  • Josh Slechta (weight throw – 5th)
  • Jaap van Gaalen (4x400m relay – 8th)
  • Lucas Wiechman (pole vault – 4th; heptathlon – 2nd)
  • Kim Wood (1,000 meters – 4th; one mile – 3rd)

Members of track and field program to appear at Seward Memorial Library

SEWARD, Neb. – Assistant coach Ed McLaughlin will take a group of at least five Concordia University track and field athletes to the Seward Memorial Library for an appearance on Thursday (June 2). Select Bulldogs will participate in the library’s summer reading program with the theme, “on your marks, get set, read.”

The session will run from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The athletes will share their life stories explaining the process of becoming a champion. Children in attendance will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the Bulldogs. For more information on the event, click HERE.

Athletes slated to appear at the Seward Memorial Library include Allie Brooks (Seward), Jose Rojas (Nogales, Ariz.), Josh Slechta (Kennard, Neb.), Tricia Svoboda (Norfolk, Neb.) and Lucas Wiechman (Pilger, Neb.). Additional athletes may also be present.

The Concordia track and field programs are coming off of a women’s outdoor national title and men’s national runner-up finish this past weekend in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Constructing a throwing juggernaut

Ed McLaughlin once told Liz King not to worry about team national championship award ceremonies. “I don’t know if it’s possible at Concordia,” McLaughlin told her. It wasn’t so much pessimism as it was McLaughlin simply wanting to be realistic and tell her straight.

But reality is so much sweeter for Concordia University track and field and its vaunted group of throwers. Eight individual national titles and two team national championship banners later and the Bulldogs have proven capable of reaching the highest of highs. What seemed like a preposterous fairytale just a few years ago has been brought to life – for reals. “I can’t really explain what happened,” McLaughlin said following the latest team title.

So how did they do it? There have been some breaks for sure. No one will forget how the Concordia men eked out the 2015 outdoor national title thanks in part to a pulled hamstrung by an Indiana Tech runner on the final event of the meet. But there’s more to it than sheer luck.

The Bulldogs have built a monster in the form of perhaps the greatest collection of throwers the NAIA has ever seen. Hyperbolic? The numbers say no. Case in point: the 2016 outdoor national championships. Concordia traveled a group of 16 throwers to the big stage and came away with two national titlists, three national runner-up finishers, 20 total All-America plaques and a combined 110 team points in powering a team national championship and team second-place trophy.

“It’s amazing what they’ve done,” said 24-year head coach Kregg Einspahr. “Coach McLaughlin’s done a tremendous job with that group. We’ve always tried to support whatever areas we thought we could make big inroads with. Coach McLaughlin is a great teacher and those are really hard workers that love to throw. You see them out there working on their own a lot and putting the work in. They’re motivated and they just love throwing.”

The Bulldogs did not win a team conference championship in 2016, but stars like King and Zach Lurz, a three-time shot put national champion, made them well-equipped for a national meet. For comparison, conference champion and arch nemesis Doane brought 40 athletes to the outdoor championships and still managed 61 fewer combined team points than Concordia. King and Lurz both put up 18 points all by themselves.

Trust us, we can go on and on about a crew that the “Thrower’s Page” ranked second best in the NAIA in 2014, then No. 1 in 2015 and almost assuredly No. 1 again in 2016. Concordia throwers were rated No. 27 nationally among all levels of collegiate competition in 2015. The numbers and the rankings are staggering, but even McLaughlin marveled at the 66 team points amassed by female throwers at the 2016 outdoor championships.

“The girls talked about this last year. They wanted this,” McLaughlin said immediately after the championship meet. “They all showed up and scored amazingly well. The girl throwers scored 66 points. That’s just ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it.”

So Concordia throwers are good, really good. But how did they get THIS good? The conversation begins with McLaughlin, a 1998 Concordia graduate and former GPAC champion thrower himself. He’s a technician, a teacher and a developer of strong bonds.

A native of Billings, Mont., King entered college already possessing a knack for throwing the javelin, an event she claimed four GPAC titles in during her impressive career. But the hammer throw was different. She doesn’t shy away from admitting that the event is not her favorite and at 5-foot-7, King is at a size disadvantage compared to most of her competitors. It took her attention to McLaughlin’s teaching to make her ascent to national champion hammer thrower a reality.

“I still just don’t like it,” King joked after winning the hammer throw title. “All that credit is to Ed. I’m not the biggest girl. I’m not the tallest. I’m not the widest. I’m not the heaviest. I had to focus on technique and technique is all Coach.”

McLaughlin has successfully coached throwers even since helping assist former primary Bulldog throws coach Carter Bull while still a fifth-year senior at Concordia. After graduating, McLaughlin was asked by Einspahr to continue working with the throws group. There were some good competitors in those early years, such as Lane McDuffee, a star in the shot put and discus at the beginning of the millennium. But it was nothing like it is now.

So what changed? For starters, McLaughlin was limited in the amount of time he could spend with his athletes while working his full-time gig in special needs for Lincoln Public Schools. McLaughlin’s elevation to full-time assistant coach occurred about the same time as Concordia completed its sparkling new indoor track facility in 2009 as part of the Walz Human Performance Complex. These two developments were major breakthroughs for the throws program.

Now McLaughlin had more time for recruiting and more time to fine-tune his athletes during the day. The metamorphosis of the throwing program from national power to national best really started with the 2012-13 season. The freshmen that year included Cody Boellstorff, Zach Lurz and Josh Slechta on the men’s side and Kattie Cleveland, Stephanie Coley, Liz King and Nicole Perry on the women’s side (Boellstorff and Lurz will return in 2016-17). Collectively, those individuals have produced an other worldly 43 All-America awards and eight individual national titles.

“This class of seniors is definitely a special one,” McLaughlin said. “When you look back you felt like some great things could happen if everything goes the way it should go, if you avoid injuries and keep everyone together. This senior class put it all together. Kattie is a pretty special thrower and she kind of gets lost. It’s an amazing group, but you could never plan for what happened. I never thought the girls could do what they did over the weekend.”

McLaughlin guided a strong bunch of throwers even before the arrival of the likes of King and Lurz, but the veteran throws coach has noticed a key difference about this unprecedented group that has obliterated the competition over the past two years. They like each other, a lot. The national championship meet was like practice with each Bulldog hollering support for one another as they approached the ring. Dead silence greeted many throwers at the national championships. Then someone with “Concordia” written across the shirt surfaced and the cheers and chants grew loud.

“Honestly it probably won’t be the actual throwing part of it,” Coley said when asked what she’ll remember most fondly about her career. “It will be how I grew closer to my teammates and the personalities that came together. It’s a really strong community and that’s why I loved it so much.”

While answering questions about his national title in the shot put, Lurz had to ward off playful teammates who gave him wet willies, jumped on him and threw each other to the turf in the background. It’s further evidence that Concordia has done more than just stockpile talented throwers. It’s built a team, one that pushes its members to be great through the messaging of an expert teacher who takes joy in personal records put up by not just his best athletes, but also those who may never qualify for nationals. “The biggest difference right now (in our success) is the team atmosphere. We haven’t always had that,” McLaughlin said. “We have athletes who want to be good together.”

King is a prime example of this quality. Of course she’s proud of the individual national and conference titles, but the team title was the real treat. She did not accept or believe that it couldn’t be done. She and the so-good-it-can’t-really-be-true group of throwers made McLaughlin look like a fool. Can’t win a team national title at Concordia? Pfffft. Said McLaughlin, “Liz was rubbing it in my face the whole way home.”

King nets national field award; Einspahr, McLaughlin collect national coaching honors

USTFCCCA Releases: coaching awards | athlete awards

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a team national title for the women and a team runner-up finish for the men, the honors continue to roll in for members of the Concordia University track and field program. On Thursday the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) awarded three Bulldogs with prestigious national honors.

  • Kregg Einspahr: 2016 USTFCCCA NAIA National Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year.
  • Ed McLaughlin: 2016 USTFCCCA NAIA National Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Assistant Coach of the Year
  • Liz King: 2016 USTFCCCA NAIA National Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year

Einspahr, also named the USTFCCCA’s 2016 NAIA Midwest Region Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year, stockpiled accolades throughout his 24-year tenure as head coach at Concordia. The 19-time GPAC coach of the year has guided the track and field program to two outdoor national titles over the past two seasons. In 2016, both the Concordia men and women placed among the top five at the indoor and outdoor national championships. Einspahr has now received four different national coach of the year awards for either cross country or track. In addition, he won a combined 16 conference titles and led teams to seven national runner-up placements in addition to the two national championships.

McLaughlin, who just completed his 19th year assisting Einspahr, has built the top throws program in the nation. At last week’s outdoor national championships, King (hammer) and Zach Lurz (shot put) both won national titles while four runner-up placements were turned in by throwers: King (javelin), Kali Robb (shot put), Josh Slechta (hammer) and Tricia Svoboda (discus). Throwers combined for 110 total team points at the outdoor national championships. Earlier in May, a pair of GPAC titles were claimed by both King (hammer and javelin) and Slechta (discus and hammer). McLaughlin swept all NAIA Midwest Region assistant coaching honors and has received three national awards from the USTFCCCA in 2016.

King capped off her impressive career as a Bulldog by winning her second career national title. Her 18 points at last week’s national championships were the most among her national championship winning teammates. The native of Billings, Mont., won four GPAC titles in the javelin and two in the hammer during her four-year run. She also won a national title in the javelin in 2014. Also named NAIA Midwest Region Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, King owns the school record in the javelin. She is also the GPAC outdoor meet record holder in the hammer and javelin.