2017 Meet Results

INDOOR

Finishes: Men 2nd in GPAC, 2nd in NAIA | Women 4th in GPAC, 7th in NAIA

Doane Nisely Invite (Jan. 14) | Results

UNL Holiday Inn Invitational (Jan. 14) | Results

NWU Prairie Wolf Invite (Jan. 20) | Results

Concordia Indoor Classic (Jan. 29) | Results

Doane Fred Beile Invite (Feb. 4) | Results

Concordia Indoor Invite (Feb. 10) | Results

GPAC Indoor Championships (Feb. 17-18) | Sioux Center, Iowa | Results

NAIA Indoor National Championships (March 2-4) | Results

OUTDOOR

Finishes: Men 2nd in GPAC, 5th in NAIA | Women 3rd in GPAC, 6th in NAIA

Wayne State Wildcat Classic (March 25-26) | Results

Iowa Western Reiver Open (March 31 - April 1) | Results

Concordia Outdoor Invite (April 7-8) | Results

Grand View University Quad (April 14) | Results

Kansas Relays (April 20) | Results

Doane Jim Dutcher Memorial (April 21-22) | Results

Nebraska Wesleyan Invite (April 27) | Results

Drake Relays (April 27-29) | Results

GPAC Outdoor Championships (May 5-6) | Fremont, Neb. | Results

Concordia Twilight Meet (May 12) | Results

NAIA Outdoor National Championships (May 25-27) | Results

Kim Wood's rise to 12-time GPAC champion

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

There are certain people that are known throughout the Concordia University campus. President Brian Friedrich is one. Kim Wood is another.

The legend of THE Kim Wood especially blew up in February mostly because of what she had just accomplished on the track, but also because of a social media post that helped illustrate her endearing personality. In a short eight-second clip tweeted by former teammate and roommate Erika Schroeder, Wood was asked, “Do you get tired?” In replying the way only she can, Wood, with a mouth full of food, retorted, “Sometimes when I’m sleeping I get tired.”

“It took flight in a way that I wasn’t expecting,” Wood said of the tweet. “I had people on campus who I’d never met before asking me, ‘hey Kim, do you ever get tired?’ I’m like, ‘who are you? Do I know you? Nice to meet you, too.’ I was just really surprised at how popular the video got. It was really funny.”

Popularity and on-campus fame did not come without some struggle, frustration and even some tears. She admits she experienced a meltdown. Early on in her career, Wood felt defeated after a 1,000-meter race at the Devaney Center in Lincoln. Her performance came up short of her own high expectations. Even worse, she had lost sight of the things that made running enjoyable for her.

“I got done and I did not run well,” Wood said. “I was so frustrated. I remember my dad was at the finish. I got really upset and I broke down crying. It was embarrassing. ‘Look at the girl. She doesn’t know how to lose, does she?’ That was embarrassing. It wasn’t fun anymore. I told my dad, ‘It’s not fun. I want to have fun but it’s not fun.’ He told me, ‘well, it always is more fun to win.’ I’m like, ‘even when I win it’s not very fun.’”

But athletics offer the ultimate platform for redemption. Wood, described by former head coach Kregg Einspahr as “tough as nails,” would not crash and burn. She’s wasn’t going to be that athlete that people would end up wondering about what could have been. She may not have realized it at the time, but she was much too resilient to give in.

Not even a battle with bronchitis could slow down Wood on Feb. 20, 2016, the date of the GPAC indoor track and field championships. On the way to the meet, a sleep-deprived Wood sat coughing in the bus seat in back of Einspahr. Said Einspahr, “She was hacking left and right behind me. I was thinking, ‘we don’t need this today.’”

Wood starred as Concordia’s version of Michael Jordan, who scored 38 points with flu-like symptoms in a 1997 NBA Finals game. Wood actually topped that. She totaled 41 points while winning four individual races, three in GPAC meet record time in what was one of the more remarkable single-day performances by any Bulldog athlete. Ever. It all happened in a span of less than three hours inside the same Devaney Center where not long before tears streamed down when things seemed hopeless.

Cry no more. This was Kim Wood’s day. Said Einspahr, “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.”

Did Wood ever expect anything like this to happen? “Noooooo,” Wood quickly replied while holding onto the word for emphasis. The small-town farm girl, who grew up in Greeley, Neb., population of 462, as Wood proudly rattles off, stood out amongst her peers at Greeley-Wolbach High School. But what does that really mean for someone who graduated with a class of exactly 10 students? The basketball team she played on had only five team members.

A young Wood rode horses and displayed them at 4-H gatherings. She also served as an undersized middle on a volleyball team that even won a state championship. On the track, she typically ran short distances, usually 200 and 400 meter races, but she never participated in cross country. Most college recruiters didn’t even seem to notice her. Said Wood, “I think I got maybe two calls from colleges ever.”

Concordia coaches discovered a diamond in the rough. Someone who never ran more than three miles at a time in high school projected as a strong distance runner in cross country and middle distance performer on the track – if, IF, she worked hard to hone her craft. She had a long ways to go to be able to compete with someone like Sarah Kortze, a GPAC champion cross country runner and 2012-13 Lincoln Journal Star state college female athlete of the year. Recalled Wood, “I remember the first day coming in. I was so intimidated just looking around at everyone. ‘Oh my gosh they’re so good. Wow, look at them.’ I was just like, ‘whaaat? I’m on the team!’”

Little did she know how ecstatic the coaching staff was to have someone who flew under the radar in high school. Assistant coach Samuels remembered how impressed he was while watching Wood run at a high school meet held in Grand Island. Said Samuels, “We were blown away by how she competed. I immediately called Coach Einspahr and said, ‘I don’t know what your plans are for the future, but she is going to be a really, really good middle distance runner.’ It’s a story we tell among our track coaches.”

But what Wood has accomplished transcends the expectations that Samuels, Einspahr or anyone associated with the program could have reasonably entertained. Admitted Samuels, “I thought she could be good, but what she’s done this year has been pretty impressive.” The word impressive is good, but it only partly describes performances that leave you in awe while thinking, ‘did she really just win another race??’

Consistency in routine and a drive to be great have made Wood one of the best in a long line of All-American Concordia runners. At one point during the indoor season, Einspahr gave her immense praise in saying, “Kim is training at as high a level as any female runner I’ve ever had at Concordia.” Even while making summer treks the past two years to the European island of Malta and to China, Wood has carved out time in preparing to be the best. She runs like a mad woman. Just ask her. Says Wood, “I’ve kind of just accepted that people think I’m crazy. I just go with it. Seriously though, it’s really fun to see how much you can push herself. You want to see what your body can do.”

Wood departs from Concordia with five individual school records, 12 GPAC titles, seven All-America awards and as a contributor to the first team national titlist in Bulldog women’s track and field history while going through the grind of constantly being in season. Cross country in the fall. Indoor track in the winter. Outdoor track in the spring. All four years. With a smile.

From under recruited out of small-town Greeley to post-race breakdown to one of the more accomplished runners in Concordia track and field history – it’s been a wild run. The 2016 GPAC indoor championships could be appropriately titled, “The Kim Wood Meet.” If she didn’t already demand enough attention from winning four conference titles and breaking three meet records, the tweet seen ‘round campus surely did the trick. Just for good measure, Wood adding a screeching ‘wooooo’ in an interview following the team outdoor national title.

“I don’t know if my family is really surprised. I was always kind of a go-getter with everything I did,” Wood said while reflecting upon her career. “I’d say I’m probably more surprised than they are. They probably expected me to do my best. They’re maybe just surprised that this is my best and it has come this far.”

Staying home: three Bluejays sign to become Bulldogs

A trio of current seniors at Seward High School will be trading in Bluejay blue for Bulldog blue. Early on Tuesday (Oct. 25) morning, Anna Baack, Mika Brees and Logan Craig made it official at a signing ceremony held inside the library at Seward High. All three student-athletes will become members of head coach Matt Beisel’s track and field programs in 2017-18.

Said Beisel, “God has blessed the Concordia Bulldogs with three more awesome student-athletes. I’m just so thrilled. It’s so awesome that we have three Seward High athletes who are going to continue to be teammates together.”

Baack knows Concordia athletics about as well as any high school senior could. She’s the daughter of Bulldog head athletic trainer Randy Baack.

“I have basically grown up there,” Anna said. “My dad didn’t try to get me to go to Concordia. It was all on my own, but I think it will be good having my family there. I’m not like some people who just want to get away. I’m excited to stay here. Growing up at Concordia makes me love it that much more.”

Both Baack and Brees expressed on Tuesday how Concordia’s Christian atmosphere had helped sway them to remain in Seward. Brees proudly posted on her Facebook page immediately after the official announcement.

“It's official, I will be continuing my track career as a Bulldog next year,” Brees wrote. “After a lot of prayer and consideration I knew that Concordia was where God was calling me to be. It wasn't an easy decision, but it's one I could not be happier about.”

Each of the three Bulldog-bound Bluejays own impressive high school credentials. Brees took home Nebraska state titles in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. She possesses career best times of 8.09 in the 60 meters, 12.32 in the 100 meters and 25.44 in the 200 meters. Both Baack and Craig are pole vaulters who have been coached by Jason Berry, who tutors vaulters at Seward High and Concordia. Craig owns a personal best of 14’ 6” and was a fourth-place state finisher. Meanwhile, Baack placed fifth at the state championships. She’s nearing the Seward High school record with her personal best of 11’ 6.”

The three athletes made their decisions individually, but it’s clear they’re excited about the opportunity to continue on as teammates. With wide smiles, they posed together for a selfie following the picture taking marathon that unfolded on Tuesday morning.

“It’s very, very special,” Anna said. “I love both of them. I’m really excited to spend the next four years with them as well.”

Over the past two seasons, the Concordia men’s and women’s track and field programs have captured one NAIA outdoor national title apiece. Those accomplishments marked the first team national championships in the history of Bulldog athletics.

Grove qualifies for nationals in marathon

FREMONT, Neb. – Track and field season is officially underway. Sophomore Taylor Grove will have the opportunity to help the Concordia women’s team in its defense of its 2016 NAIA outdoor national title. Grove finished the Warrior Half Marathon, hosted by Midland in Fremont, Neb., on Dec. 3, in just under an hour-and-a-half. That mark makes Grove an automatic national qualifier for the marathon at the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Also a member of head coach Matt Beisel’s cross country team, Grove’s official half marathon time in Fremont was 1:29:28. She placed second among the 15 female runners. The top three all qualified for nationals. A native of Billings, Mont., Grove will make her first career national championships appearance. She averaged a 6:50 mile at the Warrior Half Marathon.

Sophomore Evan Asche represented Concordia in the men’s half marathon. Asche clocked a time of 1:17:49 and placed 21st amongst the field of male runners. The automatic national qualifying mark for men running the half marathon is 1:13:30.

Concordia track and field will host its annual Blue-White Intrasquad on Friday. Action inside the Fieldhouse is set to get started at 4 p.m. CT. The first official meets of the indoor season are scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 13-14 when both the University of Nebraska Holiday Inn Invitational and the Doane Nisely Invite will take place.

SEASON PREVIEW: 2017 Concordia indoor track and field

At a glance
MEN
Head coach: Matt Beisel (1st year)
2016 indoor finishes: 3rd (GPAC); 3rd (NAIA)
2016 outdoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 2nd (NAIA)
2016 All-Americans returning: Cody Boellstorff (*weight throw); Philip Kreutzer (hammer, weight throw); Zach Lurz (**shot put, hammer, discus, weight throw); Nathan Matters (4x400m); CJ Muller (600m; 4x400m); Lucas Wiechman (decathlon, heptathlon, pole vault).
2016 All-Americans lost: Trey Barnes (shot put); Trevor Bresson (4x400m); Jose Rojas (hammer, shot put-2); Josh Slechta (hammer, discus, weight throw); Jaap Van Gaalen (4x400m).
*National champion

WOMEN
Head coach: Matt Beisel (1st year)
2016 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2016 outdoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 1st (NAIA)
2016 All-Americans returning: McKenzie Gravo (pole vault-2); Samantha Liermann (shot put-2); Kali Robb (hammer, discus, weight throw, shot put-2); Tricia Svoboda (discus).
2016 All-Americans lost: Kattie Cleveland (hammer, discus, weight throw); Stephanie Coley (discus, shot put-2, weight throw); Liz King (*hammer, javelin, weight throw); Kim Wood (1 mile, 1,000m, 800m).
*National Champion 

Season Outlook
The last time we saw Concordia track and field in action, coaches and members of the team were hoisting national championship and national runner-up trophies while basking in the sunshine in Gulf Shores, Ala., site of the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. More than seven months later, it’s time to turn the page. It’s not just a new year, it’s a new era for the program.

Enter 1992 Concordia graduate Matt Beisel as head coach, the position 2016 NAIA women’s outdoor national coach of the year Kregg Einspahr held for 24 years. Beisel finds himself in a unique situation in that he takes over programs that have raised an oversized red national championship banner in back-to-back years. Bulldog track and field has created a climate of expectation both internally and nationally.

“I don’t worry about it too much,” Beisel said. “Get the job done and have a great time in the process. I think things are going to happen that are supposed to happen. From a coaching standpoint, my philosophy has always been, let’s keep Christ first. Let’s focus on building the team togetherness. I don’t expect anything different here.”

Most recently the head track and field and cross country coach, as well as a science teacher, at Valley Lutheran High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Beisel has paid close attention to the Concordia program no matter where his travels have taken him.

So how can Beisel raise the level of programs that have become accustomed to top-five national finishes? For one, he has intensified recruiting efforts, working tirelessly to secure a large class of newcomers for 2017-18. Secondly, his athletes have raved about his ability to foster a team atmosphere within a sport that can sometimes splinter a squad based on its event groupings. He also understands Concordia has a good thing going with a throwing group tutored by Ed McLaughlin, who won three national assistant coach of the year awards in 2016.

“On the throws side, not a whole lot has changed,” said Zach Lurz, who swept indoor and outdoor shot put national titles last season as a junior. “Coach Beisel has done a great job of just letting us continue to do our thing. It’s worked for us the past three years from my perspective. What he’s added is a team dynamic. We have team bonding times incorporated and we have a lot more team activities than we’ve had in the past. He’s done a great job.”

When analyzing the 2017 Concordia track and field squads, it makes sense to begin with Lurz and the throwers, who were responsible for the bulk of the Bulldogs’ All-America honors last season. Both Lurz and teammate Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) brought home national titles at the 2016 indoor national championships. Lurz would need a truck to transport his 12 career All-America honors. Boellstorff owns five All-America plaques and two national titles himself.

On the women’s side, senior Kali Robb has collected seven All-America finishes in her stellar career. Robb is the ringleader for a women’s throws group that graduated accomplished performers such as 2016 USTFCCCA NAIA outdoor women’s field athlete of the year Liz King as well as Kattie Cleveland and Stephanie Coley. Other returning All-American throwers are Philip Kreutzer, Samantha Liermann and Tricia Svoboda.

So deep and talented has been this group that even national championship meets have felt like Concordia practices at times.

“You here mumblings around us about how good and dominant we’ve been the past few years,” Lurz said. “It’s hard to explain. It’s one of those things. You don’t have people come up and say, ‘Wow, you have a really good team,’ unless it’s guys you’ve been talking to a while. It’s there. You can tell the respect is there. Kids are watching us when we throw warmups.”

The Bulldogs would like to field a more balanced roster to compliment a throwing program that was easily ranked the best in the NAIA in 2016. Another traditional area of strength for Concordia is in the pole vault. All of its 2016 pole vault national qualifiers are back in the forms of All-Americans McKenzie Gravo and Lucas Wiechman in addition to Allie Brooks, Tyrell Reichert and Austin Schafer. Gravo figures to push for school records and Brooks, who bounced back ahead of schedule after suffering a torn ACL in high school, may not be far behind.

Wiechman may chase down school records as well in the heptathlon and decathlon. The native of Pilger, Neb., finished as the national runner-up in the multi-events at both the indoor and outdoor national championships and has himself primed for a special senior season.

On the track, no returner has achieved more than senior CJ Muller (five career All-America awards). Muller has raced to All-America honors in the 600-meter race in each of the last two years. He’s also a key cog in the 4x400 meter relay. After failing to qualify any relays for the 2016 outdoor national championships, the Bulldogs are determined to change that this indoor season.

The women bring back three of the four runners (Tori Beran, Christy Beune and Marti Vlasin) who made up last season’s indoor national qualifying 4x4. A senior from Seward, Vlasin has been a regular for national qualifying relay teams and was part of the 2014 All-America 4x4 group.

“Qualifying is always the goal,” Vlasin said. “I know we have a strong group of middle-distance seniors. Hopefully we can keep that up in the 4x4. In the 4x8 there are quite a few that could be on that team. It would be really exciting to get both of those qualified.”

Additional holdovers who competed at last year’s indoor national championships include sophomores Samuel Ferguson (4x800 meter relay), Nathan Matters (4x400 meter relay), Josiah McAllister (4x800 meter relay) and Thomas Taylor, junior Pat Wortmann (4x800 meter relay), junior Alayna Daberkow (4x400 meter relay) and junior Emily Sievert (5,000 meter run). The latter is coming off a heroic all-conference performance that earned her a spot in the cross country national championships. Sievert is continuing to rehab her knee in hopes of making it back for indoor track.

Combine the aforementioned returners with the collection of newcomers and the makings of solid squads come together. Says Beisel, “I could go on and on and on. There are a lot of good kids ready to roll. It’s been fun seeing them develop.” Expectations will remain high for programs that showed well at the Blue-White Intrasquad meet held on Dec. 9.

“From our intrasquad we had had 19 athletes who had personal bests in 29 events,” Beisel said. “We had nine athletes hit ‘A’ standard qualifying marks in 11 events. That’s a promising thing. For those who have a shot at nationals, the first several meets are critical for them to perform well and get those marks. For the freshmen it’s about testing the waters and beginning to get comfortable with the collegiate level of competition.”

Athletes like Vlasin want to uphold the proud tradition of a program that now displays two national championship banners in the Fieldhouse.

“Concordia definitely has a reputation now,” Vlasin said. “That’s really cool. Conference is going to be a little more competitive. We have championships that we’re trying to compete for at conference and nationals. Wearing the uniforms of integrity and wearing Christ on us and keeping up that sportsmanship is something people respect.”

Added Beisel, “There’s no reason to expect less going forward.”

The indoor track and field season officially gets underway next weekend with two different meets. The Bulldogs will compete at the University of Nebraska Holiday Inn Invitational (Jan. 13-14) and the Nisely Invitational (Jan. 14) hosted by Doane University. Concordia will put on its first home meet of 2017 when the annual Concordia Indoor Classic takes place on Jan. 29.

Bluejays to Bulldogs: five Seward High stars excited to join track program

Why leave your hometown when the opportunity of a lifetime sits right on your doorstep? For five seniors from Seward High School, the offer to be student-athletes at Concordia and join the track and field program was too good to pass up.

Anna Baack, Dalton Berry, Mika Brees, Logan Craig and Zach Potratz each made the decision to trade in Bluejay blue for Bulldog blue. Baack, Brees and Craig made their signings official on Oct. 25. Then last week (Jan. 6), Berry and Potratz held signing ceremonies at Seward High School. For a great number of reasons, first-year head coach Matt Beisel beams when given the chance to talk about the hometown quintet.

“They’re awesome kids and I want to have them be part of our program and contribute as leaders,” Beisel said. “They’re obviously going to help us athletically, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I’m a person who values hometown. I want us to be a good option for kids who go to Seward High School. Kids who grew up in a certain hometown often think that they want to go somewhere else and try something different. What they don’t realize is that when you step onto campus, it is a different world.”

There are numerous Seward High athletes who have put together stellar careers at Concordia. Current Bluejay-turned-Bulldog Trey Barnes recently earned All-America honors for the second-straight year on the football field. He also garnered All-America honors in the shot put under the tutelage of assistant coach Ed McLaughlin.

But this situation is unique. No one can seem to recall an instance in which a group this impressive in terms of quantity and quality – all from the same class and same sport – made the jaunt from 532 Northern Heights Drive to 800 North Columbia Avenue. Pole vault coach Jason Berry, whose scope of Concordia track and field goes back to his own college days that began in 1989, certainly has never seen anything like it. Jason is the father and pole vault coach of son Dalton.

“We’ve had a lot of Seward High kids come to Concordia for music or academics or for football,” Jason said. “Trey Barnes went to football and Marti Vlasin went to track. But we haven’t seen this number in one class coming into one sport. I’ve never seen that in any of our Concordia sports that I know of. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen one class this big for one sport go from Seward High to Concordia.”

Baack, a pole vaulter and daughter of Concordia athletic trainer Randy Baack, was the first of the five to give her commitment to Concordia. It was the first domino to fall.

Said Anna back on her signing day in October, “I have basically grown up there. My dad didn’t try to get me to go to Concordia. It was all on my own, but I think it will be good having my family there. I’m not like some people who just want to get away. I’m excited to stay here. Growing up at Concordia makes me love it that much more.”

But it wasn’t as if Anna’s decision locked every other classmate into attending Concordia. They’re all good friends, but each one had to make their own decision. As a Nebraska state champion in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, Brees entertained a wealth of options. Beisel put his best foot forward on selling her on the idea of coming to Concordia.

A feeling of disappointment came over Beisel on the day when Brees said she had made her college decision. Brees wore the T-shirt of an opposing institution when she greeted Beisel. Upon seeing her, Beisel said, “Oh, looks like you’ve decided.” With a sad face she told him, “Yes I have.” She then pulled out her scholarship offer from Concordia and smiled. Joked Beisel, “She messed with my mind and I realized what a stinker she is.”

Dalton Berry did not attempt to pull any pranks when he made his choice, though his decision did surprise his father. The coaching side of Jason Berry certainly wanted his son to pole vault for the Bulldogs. The dad in him just wanted what was best for Dalton. That may have meant taking a scholarship to be in the marching band at the University of Nebraska. Jason was “99 percent sure” his son would be headed to Lincoln.

“He really put a lot, a lot of thought into this,” Jason said. “It was about the most unique recruiting situation I’ve ever dealt with. There’s the dad side of me that says, ‘You’ve got to do what you need to do and get your degree to set up your future.’ Then there’s part of me as a coach that says, ‘You’ve got to come pole vault here.’ I had to force myself to take a back seat.

“Between Thanksgiving and Christmas he kind of surprised us. He said, ‘Dad, I’ve made my decision. I’m going to go to Concordia.’”

One-by-one, each Bluejay came to realize that Concordia was the best choice. Brees could have gone to many different places, but her hometown had all she could want or need. On the day she made it public, Brees wrote on her Facebook page, “It's official, I will be continuing my track career as a Bulldog next year. After a lot of prayer and consideration, I knew that Concordia was where God was calling me to be. It wasn't an easy decision, but it's one I could not be happier about.

The influx of highly accomplished Seward High School athletes should bode well for future recruiting efforts of area athletes.

“You always hope that any kid from any school will come here, have a great experience and then not stop talking about it,” Beisel said. “Because word gets back home, there are other kids that think, ‘Maybe that’s the place for me.’ I’d love to have kids funnel in every year from these schools, but I also know that God has different plans for different people.”

Added Berry, who has also coached pole vaulters at Seward High, “This is pretty exciting.”

Bluejays to Bulldogs

Anna Baack
Beisel’s take: “Anna is a great person. You talk to anyone who knows her and they’ll tell you she’s accepting and loving. At the same time, she vaults over 11 feet and is a great athlete on top of that.”

Dalton Berry
Beisel’s take: “Dalton cares for other people. He’s a good vaulter and he’s going to get a lot better. His heart is in the right place and I love his attitude. He’s a guy with a lot of different interests and abilities. I love recruiting kids who have a lot of interests and hobbies. Dalton’s another great fit.”

Mika Brees
Beisel’s take: “Mika went down last summer to New Orleans and worked with underprivileged kids and loved it so much that she’s going to go back this next summer. That says a lot to me about her as a person. She was getting a lot of attention from other schools as the state champion in the 100 and 200 last year.

Logan Craig
Beisel’s take: “Logan is a guy with lots of talents and abilities. He’s a good wrestler and was a great football player. He’s a 14-6 pole vaulter. Sitting and talking to his family, you know he’s come from solid roots. He’s dealt with health issues in his life that he's had to overcome and his faith has been a big part of that."

Zach Potratz
Beisel’s take: “Zach has an amazing heart for others. He’s a relational kid. He’s going to come in and develop as an athlete. He’s a distance runner. I think he’s going to add value with what he’s going to bring to the team atmosphere and culture."

Beisel on the group: “These kids are leaders on their teams. They’re team captains for cross country and track. That says a lot to me. Whatever environment they come from, if they’ve been chosen as a team captain, that means they stand out. When a kid says, ‘I’m a team captain,’ that says a lot about them right there. When they come into our program, they provide leadership. In each situation I look at, I know we’re getting phenomenal young men and women.”

Bulldogs open 2017 with 11 national qualifying marks

CRETE, Neb. – Three-time shot put national champion Zach Lurz and the Concordia University track and field programs opened up the 2017 indoor season on Saturday by winning five events and posting a total of nine automatic national qualifying marks at the Scott Nisely Memorial Classic hosted by Doane. A select few Bulldogs also competed at the University of Nebraska’s Holiday Inn Invitational at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, where CJ Muller raced to an automatic time in the 600 meters and then helped a relay team to another national championships-clinching effort.

This weekend marked Matt Beisel’s official debut as head track and field coach at Concordia. Beisel was pleased with how his athletes responded to a difficult stretch of training during the first week back from Christmas break.

“Everything kind of went along according to expectations,” Beisel said. “I was pleased that we had several PR’s. We worked our speed and power athletes really hard this week coming off of break. I could see that it was taking its toll as we got into the triple jump. I think the kids performed in the range of what we expected at this point in the season. The kids we expected to do well, did. Overall it was a great meet.”

Lurz notched automatic national qualifying marks in both the shot put and the weight throw during Saturday’s action inside the Fuhrer Field House on Doane’s campus. The school record holder for both the indoor and outdoor shot put, Lurz placed second in the event at the Nisely Classic with his toss of 54’ 10 ¼.” He posted a weight throw mark of 59’ 5 ¾,” a measurement that put him in fourth. Teammate Cody Boellstorff, a two-time national champ, won the event with a mark of 63’ 10 ¼.”

Now a sophomore, Allie Brooks turned in a big morning that included automatic national qualifying marks in both the pole vault and the high jump. A qualifier in the pole vault as a freshman last year, Brooks vaulted 11’ 10 ½”, which gave her a new personal best for indoor and put her atop Saturday’s leaderboard. Her jump of 5’ 5” landed her in fourth place.

“She had one of the best all-around days of any of our athletes,” Beisel said of Brooks. “She jumped 11-10 from a short approach. Coach (Jason) Berry is taking his time with his athletes to make sure they’re ready to move up. She blew her indoor PR out of the water. I’m real pleased with how it went for her.”

Muller will shoot for All-America honors in the 600 for the third-straight year. His time of 1:20.53 on the Devaney track put him just short of his personal best that ranks fourth on the program’s all-time list. Later in the afternoon, Muller served as the anchor for the men’s 4x400 meter relay that blazed to a time of 3:19.09, good for fourth place behind three NCAA Division I quartets. Jake Rodgers, Lucas Wiechman and Nathan Matters collaborated with Muller on the automatic time. Matters also ran the 600 in 1:23.75, putting him just shy of qualifying for nationals.

All other national qualifying marks were offered up by Bulldog throwers. In addition to three combined that came from Boellstorff and Lurz, Philip Kreutzer (weight throw), Sydney Meyer (weight throw), Kali Robb (shot put) and Adrianna Shaw (shot put) locked up trips to the national championships in March. It was the first collegiate outing for Shaw, a Bassett, Neb., native who won a state title in the shot put as a high school senior.

Concordia took first place in three events on the track courtesy of the performances by the men’s 4x800 meter relay (8:20.36), Ben Hulett (60 meter hurdles) and Patrick Wortmann (1,000 meter run). In the women’s 600, senior Marti Vlasin placed second, clocking in less than five seconds off an automatic time.

Beisel also made note of Scott Johnson and Shelbi Hackbart. Johnson took sixth in both the triple jump and long jump and 10th in the high jump. He’s focusing solely on track this year after being a member of the basketball team a year ago. Meanwhile, Hackbart completed the 3,000 meter run in 11:20.17, finishing second.

The indoor season continues next week with a short venture over to the Devaney Center in Lincoln for the Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolf Invite on Friday (Jan. 20). The Bulldogs will make their first home appearance on Sunday, Jan. 29 when they host the annual Concordia Indoor Classic.

Event titles at Scott Nisely Memorial Classic

  • Men’s 4x800 meter relay (8:20.36)
  • Cody Boellstorff – weight throw (63’ 10 ¼”)
  • Allie Brooks – pole vault (11’ 10 ½”)
  • Ben Hulett – 60 meter hurdles (8.41)
  • Patrick Wortmann – 1,000 meter run (2:36.02)

Muller races to GPAC weekly award

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Following an impressive start to his senior season, CJ Muller reeled in his third career GPAC weekly honor. The Omaha native collected GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week, as announced by the conference on Wednesday (Jan. 18).

While competing at last week’s University of Nebraska Holiday Inn Invitational, Muller shined on the track, turning an automatic national qualifying time in the 600 meter run before collaborating with three teammates on a national qualifying 4x400 meter relay performance. Muller’s time of 1:20.98 in the 600 currently ranks third on the NAIA national leaderboard. As the anchor for the 4x4, Muller recorded a split of 49.01. The team’s time of 3:20.59 ranks second nationally.

In his career, Muller has earned All-America honors twice in the 600 meters and has also been part of three All-American 4x4’s. Muller is the GPAC’s defending champion in the 600. In addition, he has been a high achiever in the classroom, garnering CoSIDA Academic All-District and NAIA Scholar-Athlete accolades in 2016.

Muller and the Bulldogs will return to action on Friday when they compete at Nebraska Wesleyan’s Prairie Wolf Invite. The large majority of the meet will take place at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.

Brooks claims another pole vault title; Bulldogs win six events at Devaney

LINCOLN, Neb. – If it wasn’t clear a week ago, it is now. Allie Brooks will be a force in her sophomore season for the Concordia University track and field program. On Friday, she took first place in the pole vault for the second-straight outing while setting another new indoor personal best. Brooks recorded one of six Bulldog event titles at the Prairie Wolf Indoor Invitational hosted inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center by Nebraska Wesleyan.

The meet marked the second week of the indoor season for first-year head coach Matt Beisel’s teams. Concordia made positive strides as compared to last week’s Nisely Memorial Classic.

“Our women got 25 personal bests and eight season bests. Our men had 34 personal bests and five season bests,” Beisel said. “That’s better than last week. There was a lot of good stuff.

“If you look at the distance group we had them change things up. A lot of them did shorter events like the 800 so they wouldn’t get into a mental rut with longer events. I also wanted to work on their speed. Almost all of them ran personal bests or very near personal bests. I was very proud of them.”

Brooks topped the field of 19 vaulters with her clearance of 11’ 10 ¾.” That effort came six days after the Seward native put up national qualifying marks in both the pole vault and the high jump at the season-opening Nisely Invite held at Doane. Brooks qualified for nationals in the indoor and outdoor pole vault as a freshman in 2016.

Scott Johnson turned in the breakout performance of the meet from a Concordia perspective. The Kansas City native busted loose with a long jump of 23’ 5 ½,” a mark that automatically qualified him for nationals and gave him the event win at the Prairie Wolf Invite. Johnson is in his first season as solely a track athlete after having also been a member of the Concordia basketball team.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Beisel said of Johnson’s mark. “He’s been showing signs of it in practice. He is a very focused individual, very intelligent. He processes things well and is very strong. We didn’t expect to see the mark come this early in the season, but we both felt like it was there.”

Six-time All-American Lucas Wiechman gave the Bulldogs a clean sweep of the pole vault titles at Devaney. Wiechman equaled an indoor PR by clearing 16’ 2 ¾”, putting him in front of second place Bailey Stapleman (15’ 11”) of the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Wiechman also qualified for nationals in the 60-meter hurdles by clocking in at 8.25.

Three-time shot put national champion Zach Lurz also claimed an event title. After a runner-up finish last week at Doane, Lurz pushed himself to the top spot with his toss of 53’ 5 ½” in the shot put. Lurz is the school record holder in both the indoor and outdoor shot put. Fellow national titlist Cody Boellstorff also came out on top in the weight throw (65’ 5”).

After posting a national qualifying mark at the UNL Holiday Inn Invitational six days ago, the Concordia men’s 4x400 meter relay beat out the other 13 relays at the Devaney Center on Friday. The combination of Jake Rodgers, Wiechman, Nathan Matters and CJ Muller completed the race in 3:21.48. That time also comes in under the automatic qualifying threshold of 3:22. Concordia entered the weekend ranked second nationally (3:20.59) in the event.

Several Bulldogs were runners up in their events, including Kali Robb (weight throw; 54’ 4 ¾”, and shot put; 44’), Muller (800 meters; 1:56.05) and Wiechman (60 meter hurdles; 8.25). Robb’s weight throw mark was a new qualifying mark.

Muller garnered GPAC track athlete of the week honors after qualifying for nationals last week in the 600 meters and as part of the 4x400 meter relay. For the second-straight week, Matters came up within striking distance of an automatic mark in the 600. He finished race in 1:23.06 on Friday.

The Bulldogs will make their first home appearance of 2017 next Sunday (Jan. 29) when the annual Concordia Indoor Classic is held inside the Fieldhouse. The meet is slated to get underway at 2 p.m. CT.

“It’s nice because we have a couple extra days to rest,” Beisel said. “We’ve got from Saturday to Saturday. We have a full eight days to train properly and give them a break from competition. I think we’ll be at the top of our game with a home meet in front of the home crowd.”

Prairie Wolf Invite event winners

  • Men’s 4x400 meter relay (3:21.48)
  • Cody Boellstorff – weight throw (65’ 5”)
  • Allie Brooks – pole vault (11’ 10 ¾”)
  • Scott Johnson – long jump (23’ 5 ½”)
  • Zach Lurz – shot put (53’ 5 ½”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – pole vault (16’ 2 ¾”)

Boellstorff, Wiechman snag GPAC weekly awards

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University track and field program has swept men’s conference weekly awards. On Wednesday (Jan. 25), the league named Cody Boellstorff the GPAC Men’s Field Athlete of the Week and Lucas Wiechman the GPAC Men’s Track Athlete of the Week. Wiechman has earned the same honor that teammate CJ Muller pulled in last week.

Boellstorff just keeps on winning weight throw competitions. The defending national champion in the event put forth a season best toss of 65’ 5” while winning the weight throw at the Prairie Wolf Invitational on Jan. 20. That mark currently leads the nation. The native of Waverly, Neb., owns a weight throw personal best of 69’ 9,” which came at the 2016 national championships. Boellstorff also finished eighth in the shot put at the Prairie Wolf Invite.

Wiechman enjoyed a big day both on the track and in the pole vault at the Prairie Wolf Invite. The Pilger, Neb., native raced to a fresh automatic national qualifying time of 8.25 on his way to a second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles. Wiechman also equaled a personal best of 16’ 2 ¾,” a clearance that gave him the top mark in the pole vault competition. He also ran a leg for the 4x400 meter relay that placed first by clocking in at 3:21.48 (national qualifying time). Wiechman is a six-time All-American.

Boellstorff, Wiechman and the rest of the Bulldogs are set to make their first home appearance of 2017 when they host the annual Concordia Indoor Classic inside the Fieldhouse on Sunday. The event schedule for the meet can be viewed HERE.

Track teams garner lofty placements in first national ratings of 2017

USTFCCCA NAIA national ratings

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University track and field programs continue to keep company with the nation’s elite. In the debut of the 2017 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NAIA national rankings, the Bulldogs checked in at No. 4 on the men’s side and at No. 12 on the women’s side. The ratings are tabulated by assigning point totals to where athletes and relay teams stand on the national leaderboards.

Both Bulldog teams recorded top-five national finishes at the 2016 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. Behind national titlists Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Zach Lurz (shot put), the men placed third. The women finished fifth. Then at the outdoor national championships, the Concordia women won the national title and the men claimed a runner-up finish. Throughout the 2016 indoor season, the Bulldogs garnered top-five national spots in every rating released by the USTFCCCA.

Matt Beisel is in his first season leading the Concordia track and field programs. His athletes have combined for a total of 15 automatic national qualifying marks through the first two meets of the indoor season. Cody Boellstorff tops the nation in the weight throw (65’ 5”). His mark is one of nine owned by Bulldogs that ranks inside the top five on the national lists. Kali Robb ranks second in the shot put and Lucas Wiechman holds down the No. 2 spot in the 60-meter hurdles. Of the 15 auto marks, eight have been produced by throwers and another four have come in additional field events.

The USTFCCCA also ranks each of the 10 NAIA track and field conferences. According to its computer ratings, the GPAC has been the second best NAIA conference so far this indoor season. Six GPAC men’s and six GPAC women’s squads are ranked in the top 25.

Beisel’s teams will make their first home appearances on Saturday when the annual Concordia Indoor Classic takes place inside the Fieldhouse. The meet is set to get started at 1 p.m. CT. View the event schedule HERE.

Boellstorff upgraded to National Field Athlete of Week

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Tabbed the GPAC men’s field athlete of the week earlier in the day, defending weight throw national champion Cody Boellstorff received an upgrade later on Wednesday. Current owner of the nation’s No. 1 weight throw, Boellstorff garnered NAIA National Men's Indoor Field Athlete of The Week accolades, as announced by the NAIA on Wednesday. Boellstorff took home the same national award on Feb. 3, 2016.

A native of Waverly, Neb., Boellstorff just keeps on winning weight throw competitions. The defending national champion in the event put forth a season best toss of 65’ 5” while winning the weight throw at the Prairie Wolf Invitational on Jan. 20. Boellstorff sports a weight throw personal best of 69’ 9,” which came at the 2016 national championships. Boellstorff also finished eighth in the shot put at the Prairie Wolf Invite.

Boellstorff also won a hammer throw national title at the 2015 NAIA outdoor national championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., where the Bulldogs captured the first team national title in school history, for any sport.. He is a five-time All-American.

Boellstorff and the Bulldogs are set to make their first home appearance of 2017 when they host the annual Concordia Indoor Classic inside the Fieldhouse on Sunday. The event schedule for the meet can be viewed HERE.

Nationally-ranked Bulldogs to make first home appearance at Concordia Classic

SEWARD, Neb. – A total of five nationally-ranked men’s squads and three top-25 women’s teams will be in action inside the Fieldhouse on Sunday when the annual Concordia Indoor Classic plays out. It will be the first official home meet of the 2017 indoor season for first-year head coach Matt Beisel’s program. Concordia has competed at the Scott Nisely Memorial Classic (hosted by Doane) and the Prairie Wolf Invitational (hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan) so far in 2017.

Sunday’s meet will be carried live on the Concordia Sports Network. Select events will be shown. The meet event schedule can be viewed HERE.

Both Bulldog teams appeared in the first NAIA national rankings of the season, which were released on Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Concordia men, led by national weight throw leader Cody Boellstorff, appeared at No. 4 in the ratings. Meanwhile, the women checked in at No. 12. Both programs garnered top-five USTFCCCA national ratings throughout the entire 2016 indoor season.

Not only does the defending weight throw national champion Boellstorff own a No. 1 NAIA ranking, the Bulldogs hold down eight additional spots among the top five in specific event categories: Kali Robb (second in the shot put), Lucas Wiechman (second in the 60 meter hurdles and third in the pole vault), third in the men’s 4x400 meter relay, Zach Lurz (third in the shot put and fifth in the weight throw), CJ Muller (fourth in the 600 meters) and Allie Brooks (fifth in the pole vault). Lurz is the defending national champ in both the indoor and outdoor shot put.

The Concordia Classic will welcome other NAIA top-ranked athletes such as Doane’s Dakarai Hightower (high jump), Kylie Gokie (pentathlon), Andrew Klein (pole vault) and De’Andre Miller (triple jump) and Hastings’ Kelbie Lyon (shot put) and Sara Olsen (weight throw). The field of teams includes four GPAC schools and former conference member Nebraska Wesleyan.

The Bulldogs return to action again next weekend at the Fred Beile Invitational hosted by Doane on Saturday (Feb. 4). Some members of the Concordia program will also be at the Sevigne Husker Invite at the Devaney Center in Lincoln on Friday (Feb. 3).

Concordia competitors with No. 1 GPAC rankings
Men’s 4x400 meter relay
Men’s 4x800 meter relay
Cody Boellstorff – weight throw
Allie Brooks – pole vault
Scott Johnson – long jump
CJ Muller – 600 meters
Lucas Wiechman – 60 meter hurdles

Concordia Classic field
Concordia University | National ranks: M – 4; W – 12
Creighton University
Doane Univeristy | National ranks: M – 3; W – 3
Hastings College | National ranks: M – 22; W – 4
Midland University | National ranks: M – 11
Nebraska Wesleyan University
University of Nebraska-Kearney
Northwest Missouri State University
University of Saint Mary (Kan.)
Tabor College (Kan.)
Wayne State College
York College | National ranks: M – 21

Brooks breaks school record; Bulldogs win five events at Concordia Classic

SEWARD, Neb. – While competing inside the friendly confines of the Fieldhouse that now showcases two national championship banners, the Concordia University track and field programs combined for 48 personal records, 13 automatic national qualifying marks, five event titles and four runner-up finishes at Sunday’s Concordia Indoor Classic. It marked the first home appearance of the 2017 indoor season for the Bulldogs.

It was also the first time coaching the Bulldogs in a home meet for head coach Matt Beisel.

“I had a lot of joy looking around and seeing everything running smoothly and having my kids performing well,” Beisel said. “It was really a cool experience. Among our 100 athletes, we’ve had 250 personal bests this season, including the intrasquad meet. That shows improvement.”

Concordia performers swept men’s and women’s pole vault titles on Sunday. Sophomore Allie Brooks took first on the women’s side and senior Lucas Wiechman did the same in the men’s competition.

Pole vaulting is a family affair for Allie. She has joined her father Gene Brooks as Concordia pole vault record holders. Gene continues to own the men’s school indoor pole vault standard of 18’ ½.” On Sunday, Allie shattered her previous personal best by clearing 12’ 6 ¾,” moving former record holder Cassie Starks (12’ 6 ¼”) down a notch.

Allie has come a long ways since tearing her ACL as a high school senior. She also gets pushed every day by teammate and 2016 pole vault All-American McKenzie Gravo, who is red-shirting this indoor season. The school record, also a Concordia Classic meet record, may be just a start.

“It was amazing,” Brooks said. “It was everything that I dreamed of it being for the past few years. I’ve been trying to chase the record. It was awesome.”

Added Beisel, “That mark will rank her as one of the tops in the U.S. right now. After the story of her getting through an ACL repair and working her way up, it was really cool.”

Already qualified for nationals in the pole vault, Wiechman cleared 15’ 10” on Sunday. Teammate Tyrell Reichert turned in a fresh automatic national qualifying mark by vaulting 15’ 5.” He placed fourth among the field of 26 athletes.

Headlining the throws group, senior Cody Boellstorff pushed his NAIA leading mark in the weight throw to 66’ 9 ¾.” Throwers accounted for eight national qualifying marks at the Concordia Classic. Those additional marks were achieved by Samantha Liermann (shot put), Zach Lurz (shot put and weight throw), Sydney Meyer (weight throw), Kali Robb (shot put and weight throw) and Adrianna Shaw (shot put).

Senior CJ Muller continues to compete along with the top 600 meter runners in the nation. In his only race of the day, he clocked in at 1:20.82 in a winning effort on the track. The Omaha native, a two-time All-American in the 600, entered the weekend ranked fourth in the NAIA in the event.

“You just want to keep working at it,” Muller said. “We run to make ourselves better. I want to keep bumping myself up on that list. Each week we approach it like we haven’t run a race before. Next week I’ll be running it (600) again and hopefully move up on the national list.”

The fifth event titlist for Concordia was Jake Rodgers, who ran a 22.56 in the 200 meters. Concordia event runner ups included Robb (weight throw), Rodgers (400 meters), Shaw (shot put) and Patrick Wortmann (1,000 meters). Shaw topped her personal best by exactly two feet with her shot put toss of 46’ 5 ½.” Based on the NAIA leaderboard entering the weekend, that mark would be good for second, just ahead of Robb (46’ 2 ¾”). Though she placed third in the high jump, Brooks again turned in a mark of 5’ 5,” which meets the national qualifying standard.

Wortmann’s 1,000 meter time of 2:34.58 was a personal best and puts him near the national qualifying mark of 2:32. Wortmann is one of the leaders for a distance group showing rapid improvement. “They were very competitive and I love what I saw there,” Beisel said.

The bulk of the team will be headed to Doane next Saturday for the Fred Beile Invite inside Fuhrer Field House. Select Bulldog athletes will also take part in the Sevigne Husker Invite (Feb. 3-4) hosted by the University of Nebraska. Beisel’s program will also host the annual Concordia Indoor Invitational on Feb. 10.

Concordia Classic event titles

  • Cody Boellstorff – weight throw (66’ 9 ¾”)
  • Allie Brooks – pole vault (12’ 6 ¾”)
  • CJ Muller – 600 meters (1:20.82)
  • Jake Rodgers – 200 meters (22.56)
  • Lucas Wiechman – pole vault (15’ 10”)

Brooks, Wiechman star at Beile Classic

CRETE, Neb. – Allie Brooks has done it again. She put together two record-breaking performances in a continuation of her sterling sophomore indoor campaign to headline the efforts of the nationally-ranked Concordia University track and field squads at Saturday’s Fred Beile Classic hosted by Doane. In sum, the Bulldogs produced a combined five event championships, eight runner-up finishes and 61 personal bests on the weekend.

First-year head coach Matt Beisel has been delighted by what he’s seen from Brooks.

“She blew away her school record that she set last week and she made a really good attempt at over 13 feet,” Beisel said. “She almost cleared it. That’s really exciting.”

A Seward native, Brooks broke her own school record in the indoor pole vault by four inches with her first-place clearance of 12’ 10 ¾.” That mark also boosts her to the status of NAIA national leader based on the list of accumulated marks entering the weekend. Not only that, Brooks leapfrogged the program standard in the high jump, which had stood for more than 30 years. She jumped 5’ 7,” a figure that also ranks in the top five nationally. (The high jump record had been 5’ 6,” which was accomplished by Bonnie Jelinek in 1986).

Brooks is far from the only top-of-the-line athlete in the program. Senior Lucas Wiechman continues to try to chase down the school record of 5,374 points in the heptathlon. That lofty number was totaled by Don Kitzman in 1989. On Saturday, Wiechman won the heptathlon by accumulating 5,073 points for another NAIA national leading mark. The native of Pilger, Neb., finished as the national runner up at the 2016 heptathlon competition.

Nationally known for its throwing program, Concordia dominated the women’s weight throw, holding down the top five finishes in the event. Sydney Meyer won the competition with her toss of 54’ 5 ¼.” Though not a season best, that mark cleared the national qualifying standard. Kali Robb, Samantha Liermann, Katricia Svoboda and Adrianna Shaw finished two through five in the weight throw.

The men’s one mile race resulted in one of the better stories of the day. Though sophomore Thomas Taylor lost one of his shoes on the first lap, he continued on, came near a personal best and won the race in a time of 4:36.89. Taylor did so despite bleeding significantly from his unprotected foot.

“He kept coming by and I was cheering for him. I never noticed his foot,” Beisel said. “He won the thing and it was about three seconds off his PR. He did it with one foot all bloody.”

Over at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, seniors Cody Boellstorff and CJ Muller held their own against NCAA Division I competition. Competing on Friday, Boellstorff placed second among 30 competitors in the weight throw with a mark of 65’ 10 ¼.” On the track, Muller set a new personal best in the 600 meter run with a time of 1:19.62.

Concordia also claimed an event title in the women’s one mile courtesy of Rebekah Hinrich’s finish in 5:38.01. Said Beisel, “It was a really good day for Rebekah. She’s continuing to gain confidence. She’s a freshman who still isn’t quite where she was speed-wise when she was in high school last year, but she has had four meets in a row where she has chipped away at personal bests.”

Other runner-up finishes at the Beile Classic were turned in by the women’s 4x400 meter relay, Michael Leapley (800 meters), Shelbi Hackbart (3,000 meters), Shaw (shot put), Emily Sievert (5,000 meters) and Patrick Wortmann (1,000 meters).

Elsewhere in the multi events, Thomas Matik (4,102), Jessica Deterding (2,900), Anna Beune (2,879) have put themselves within range of totals needed to reach the national championships. The top 16 point scorers in both the heptathlon and the pentathlon earn bids to nationals.

The Bulldogs will host a meet for the second time this indoor season when the annual Concordia Indoor Invitational takes place inside the Fieldhouse on Friday. The action is set to get started at 2 p.m. CT. It will be the final meet prior to the GPAC championships (Feb. 17-18), which will be staged in Sioux Center, Iowa.

“The kids have had great attitudes and great spirit,” Beisel said. “It’s fun coaching them. Now we get ready to compete at home again.”

Fred Beile event winners

  • Allie Brooks – pole vault (12’ 10 ¾”)
  • Rebekah Hinrichs – mile (5:38.01)
  • Sydney Meyer – weight throw (54’ 5 ¼”)
  • Thomas Taylor – mile (4:36.89)
  • Lucas Wiechman – heptathlon (5,073 points)

Brooks, Muller, Wiechman honored by GPAC

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University track and field programs have raked in three of the four weekly honors handed out by the GPAC. On Wednesday (Feb. 8), sophomore Allie Brooks and seniors CJ Muller and Lucas Wiechman collected GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports track and field athlete of the week accolades. Brooks and Wiechman both earned honors under the category of “field” while Muller garnered the award for “track.”

Both Muller and Wiechman have received a GPAC award twice this indoor season. Meanwhile, Brooks is a first time winner.

Brooks has been impressive throughout this indoor season. At last week’s Fred Beile Classic hosted by Doane, Brooks broke her own school record in the pole vault and then bested a program standard of more than 30 years in the high jump. Her clearance of 12’ 10 ¾” tops all NAIA female vaulters in the nation. She also ranks in a tie for fourth nationally in the high jump (5’ 7”). A Seward High School product, Brooks qualified for nationals in the indoor and outdoor pole vault as a freshman.

Wiechman is also a national leader. He rose to the top of the NAIA leaderboard in the heptathlon by totaling 5,073 points at the Beile Classic. A native of Pilger, Neb., Wiechman has qualified for nationals in the heptathlon, pole vault and 60 meter hurdles. Wiechman has achieved All-America status six times during his standout career. He was the national runner up in the heptathlon at the 2016 NAIA indoor national championships.

Muller continues to star on the track. The Omaha native clocked a personal best of 1:19.62 in the 600 meters while competing last week at the Sevigne Husker Invitational hosted by the University of Nebraska. That time ranks No. 3 on the program’s all-time list. Muller also teamed up with Wiechman as part of a 4x400 meter relay that turned in an ‘A’ standard automatic qualifying time at the Devaney Center. On the school’s indoor all-time lists, Muller also ranks fourth in both the 200 and 400 meter dashes and was a member of the school record 4x4 in 2014.

Brooks, Muller and Wiechman and the rest of the nationally-ranked Bulldogs will return to action on Friday at the Concordia Indoor Invitational. The meet will get started at 2 p.m. CT inside the Fieldhouse. The event schedule can be viewed HERE.

National pole vault leader Brooks tabbed national athlete of week

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A school record breaking and NAIA national leading performance helped Allie Brooks achieve the status of NAIA National Women’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Week, as announced by the NAIA on Wednesday (Feb. 8). Earlier in the day, Brooks garnered weekly recognition from the GPAC.

“It was just a really special moment to me,” Brooks said of breaking the pole vault school record. “It was awesome to have my mom and dad there. My dad and I always talked about how cool it would be if we both could have the records here. It’s crazy and awesome that it’s a reality. It was a crazy good feeling.”

Brooks has flourished in her sophomore season. At last week’s Fred Beile Classic hosted by Doane, Brooks broke her own school record in the pole vault and then bested a program standard of more than 30 years in the high jump. Her clearance of 12’ 10 ¾” tops all NAIA female vaulters in the nation. She also ranks in a tie for fourth nationally in the high jump (5’ 7”). A Seward High School product, Brooks qualified for nationals in the indoor and outdoor pole vault as a freshman.

Brooks won two state pole vault championships in South Dakota before she and her family moved back to Seward. Her father Gene won five pole vault national titles during his career as a Bulldog. He is both a Concordia and NAIA athletic Hall of Fame member and school record holder in the indoor pole vault.

Allie and both Bulldog track and field squads will return to action on Friday when they play host to the Concordia Indoor Invitational inside the Fieldhouse. The meet is set to get started at 2 p.m. CT. To view the event schedule, click HERE.

Bulldogs host Concordia Invite on Friday

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University track and field programs will host a meet for the second time this season when the annual Concordia Indoor Invitational gets underway at 2 p.m. CT on Friday. The Bulldogs will enter the weekend with national rankings of sixth on the men’s side and 10th on the women’s side, according to ratings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The event schedule for Friday’s meet can be viewed HERE. The Concordia Sports Network will live stream select events throughout the day. Live results will populate HERE.

First-year head coach Matt Beisel’s squad has compiled 17 NAIA automatic national qualifying marks through the first four weeks of the indoor season. Two of those marks belong to NAIA Women’s National Field Athlete of the Week Allie Brooks, now the owner of the program’s indoor pole vault and high jump records. Brooks tops the nation in the pole vault (12’ 10 ¾”). Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Lucas Wiechman (heptathlon) also boast No. 1 national marks.

The Bulldog track and field programs own a total of 10 marks that rank inside the top five nationally: Boellstorff (first – weight throw), Brooks (first – pole vault; third – high jump), Wiechman (first – heptathlon; third – pole vault), Adrianna Shaw (second – shot put), CJ Muller (third – 600 meters), Kali Robb (fourth – shot put), men’s 4x400 meter relay (fifth) and Zach Lurz (fifth – shot put). At last week’s Fred Beile Classic, event titles were won by Brooks (pole vault), Rebekah Hinrichs (mile), Sydney Meyer (weight throw), Thomas Taylor (mile) and Wiechman (heptathlon).

Concordia is one of 12 institutions that will be represented at Friday’s meet. The field includes GPAC rivals Doane, Hastings and Midland. Concordia University Irvine, affiliated with NCAA Division II, will also bring athletes to Seward. Bulldog alum Keegan Bloomfield serves the Eagle coaching staff as an assistant. The field also includes a total of seven nationally-ranked squads, including four on the men’s side and three on the women’s side.

Competing institutions
*National rankings in parentheses
Bethel College (Kan.)
Cloud County Community College (Kan.)
Concordia University Irvine
Concordia University, Nebraska (M – 6 | W – 10)
Doane University (M – 2 | W – 2)
Fort Hays State University (Kan.)
Hastings College (M – 23 | W – 4)
McPherson College (Kan.)
Midland University
Tabor College (Kan.)
Wayne State College
York College (M – 24)

National marks by Bulldogs

  • Men’s 4x400m relay (A, 3:20.59)
  • Cody Boellstorff: weight throw (A, 66’ 9 ¾”); shot put (B, 50’ 5 ½”)
  • Allie Brooks: high jump (A, 5’ 7”); pole vault (A, 12’ 10 ¾”)
  • Jacy Embray: shot put (B, 43’ 5 ¼”)
  • Ben Hulett: 60 meter hurdles (B, 8.41)
  • Scott Johnson: long jump (A, 23’ 5 ½”)
  • Philip Kruetzer: weight throw (A, 56’ 10”); shot put (B, 49’ 9”)
  • Samantha Liermann: shot put (A, 44’ 8”)
  • Zach Lurz: shot put (A, 54’ 10 ¼”); weight throw (A, 60’ 1 ¼”)
  • Sydney Meyer: weight throw (A, 55’ 9”)
  • CJ Muller: 600 meters (A, 1:20.07); 800 meters (B, 1:56.55); 400 meters (B, 49.84)
  • Johanna Ragland: shot put (B, 42’ 5 ¼”)
  • Tyrell Reichert: pole vault (A, 15’ 5”)
  • Kali Robb: shot put (A, 46’ 2 ¾”); weight throw (A, 56’ ½”)
  • Adrianna Shaw: shot put (A, 46’ 5 ½”)
  • Lucas Wiechman: 60 meter hurdles (A, 8.25); pole vault (A, 16’ 2 ¾”); heptathlon (5,073)

ACL injury fueled pole vault star with familiar last name

Gene Brooks has always been proud of his daughter Allison (who goes by Allie). There was just one thing that didn’t quite make sense to him. Allie won two high school state pole vault championships in South Dakota and seemed to be merely scratching the surface in regards to her vast athletic potential.

This time two years ago, as a senior at Seward High School, Allie had contemplated giving up the pole vault and going to college to simply be a student. “You’re a two-time state champion. How come you’re not more excited about continuing that?” Gene wondered.

Sometimes you just don’t know what you’ve got. Till it’s gone.

Says Allie, “Getting injured was like God telling me, ‘You’re not done with vaulting yet. You’re going to keep doing it.’ It’s crazy to look back and think, tearing my ACL was probably the best thing that’s happened in my vaulting career. If that didn’t happen I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

Sounds strange, but an ACL tear is what sparked a competitive fire that has driven Allie to the top of the national leaderboard and the school record books in the pole vault. She’s taken flight as a sophomore and she’s living up to the Brooks name.

Named NAIA National Field Athlete of the Week on Wednesday, what makes Allie’s success so impressive is how quickly it has come about. While fresh off that ACL tear suffered at the first meet of her prep senior year, Allie still managed to qualify for the indoor and outdoor national championships last year as a freshman. She was a member of the 2016 squad that captured the first team national title in the history of women’s athletics at Concordia.

This year – she’s been absolutely ridiculous. With Gene and her mother Janice in attendance, Allie first broke the pole vault school record at the Concordia Classic with a clearance of 12’ 6 ¾.” Less than a week later, she vaulted four inches higher and also broke a school record in the high jump that had lasted for more than 30 years.

“It was just a really special moment,” said Allie of setting a new school standard for the first time. “Pole vault is really special to me. It was awesome to have my dad there and my mom. Me and my dad have always talked about how cool it would be if we both could have records here. It’s crazy and awesome that it’s a reality. It was a crazy good feeling. I just felt overwhelmed with being blessed.”

In some respects, it may not be all that surprising that Allie is competing at a level not seen before from a Concordia female pole vaulter. Only somewhat jokingly, Concordia and Seward High pole vault coach Jason Berry referred to Gene as “the man, the myth, the legend.” Gene won five pole vault national titles and established the men’s program indoor pole vault standard during his distinguished athletic career as a Bulldog. In other words, Allie had the right pedigree.

Naturally, Gene is stoked to see his daughter succeeding at something he’s long been passionate about. Allie first vaulted at the age of five and has been a regular at the Seward 4th of July street vault that Gene started more than 25 years ago. But he’s tried hard not to be an overbearing parent that forces something upon his children. He’s also been happy to let Berry do his thing as pole vault coach.

“It is really tough,” Gene said. “Coach Berry is an awesome coach. I want him to know how much he’s respected. He’s the one she needs to listen to. I don’t ever want to contradict him, but she is my daughter and we talk pole vault a lot. I talk to Jason, too, and we share things.”

Whatever the arrangement, it’s working. Allie is thriving at an institution she swore she wouldn’t attend. She wanted to be near the ocean and Concordia University Irvine seemed like the perfect place to be. She was going to get away and really explore a new world. She eventually realized that a whole new world was right in front of her, in her hometown. “I went and visited and I loved it,” Allie says remembering Concordia Irvine. “I think it was the week of graduation that all of the sudden, God was like, ‘You’re going to Concordia-Nebraska.’ I was like, ‘What?’ It worked out. It’s been amazing. I love it here. I’m so glad I didn’t go anywhere else.”

Berry barely had a chance to work with Allie at Seward High before the injury occurred. Allie had done something a vaulter should never do – she landed on her feet. Then her spikes caught and her knee gave out.

Despite the injury, Berry knew and saw enough of Allie that he wanted to see her stay in Seward. He was hopeful she would give Concordia a shot. “Your ACL’s gone, but I’m still interested,” Berry recalled telling her. “We kept having dialogue back and forth. I told her that if she wanted to get better and this was a passion she wanted to follow, Concordia is where you need to go. At the district track meet her senior year, she was there watching. She just subtly goes, ‘Hey Jason, I’ve been thinking about something. I think I’ve decided to go to Concordia.’”

It was one of those thrilling recruiting moments for Berry, who jumped up and then hugged Allie. Berry knew of Allie when she was just a small child. He had pegged her as future vaulter just in seeing how outgoing she had been. “She was the one that was always climbing trees and always climbing on top of stuff,” Berry said. “She was the energetic, rowdy, all-over-the-place kid. I remember when I came over to Gene’s house, she was always doing something.”

She’s still doing some things, some pretty big things. You get the sense that her success is sometimes embarrassing for her. It distracts from what’s most important to her – things like God, her family and pole vaulting, of course.

She’s at the top right now, but she remains humble and aware that her biggest goals are yet to be fulfilled. “It’s a really crazy feeling,” Allie says of her No. 1 national positioning. “In the past I’ve always looked at the website and looked at the girl at the top. She’s the one you have to beat. It’s just crazy that God has let me be in that position. It’s such a great opportunity. The night that I got the school record my dad texted me, ‘God blesses you so that you can bless others. Don’t miss out on these opportunities.’”

Clearly those sentiments, word-for-word, are deeply ingrained in Allie. “I really believe that she wants to use this blessing in her life to be a blessing for other people,” Gene said. “She wants to be a witness for Christ. That’s the thing that means the most to me and why I’m so proud of her.”

Fueled by an injury that rekindled a burning passion for competition, Allie has surely been a blessing to Concordia through her mere presence. With God serving as her rock, Allie wants to go higher, like 13’ 6” to be exact. Considering all she’s accomplished already as a sophomore, one would be foolish to count her out.

Throwers shine, Wiechman sparkles at Concordia Invite

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University track and field teams appear to be hitting their stride at the right time. At Friday’s Concordia Indoor Invitational inside the Fieldhouse, the Bulldogs totaled 59 personal bests, seven event titles and five runners up.

First-year head coach Matt Beisel’s squads won three of four throwing events and got another big day from senior Lucas Wiechman, a national qualifier in three individual events.

“This was probably one of our most solid meets as a whole team,” Beisel said. “That’s what you want at your last home meet, the week before your conference championships. Overall just a good day. We had a lot of improvements in the throws. The guys in the horizontal jumps had a really good day. Just a really solid performance. I’m real proud of them.”

Based on the leaderboard entering the weekend, senior Kali Robb is now the national leader in the weight throw with her mark of 59’ 4” at the Concordia Invite. After popping off that season best, Robb got a bear hug from both assistant coach Ed McLaughlin and former teammate and past national champion Liz King. Robb is the school record holder in the event with her toss of 62’ 1 ¾” at the 2016 GPAC championships.

A national runner up in last year’s heptathlon, senior Lucas Wiechman continues to showcase himself as one of the top all around athletes in the nation. Not only does Wiechman pace the NAIA in the heptathlon, he moved himself up on the 60-meter hurdle list by clocking a personal best of 8.21 in a winning effort on Friday. In addition, the Pilger, Neb., native ran a 50.4 split for the first-place Bulldog 4x400 meter relay.

Wiechman has become a master at juggling events. At one point late in the meet, he set a personal best of 16’ 4 ¾” in the pole vault (another title) and then hurried over to the track to lead off the relay. Said Beisel, “Lucas had a really phenomenal day.”

“It’s a combination of having four years and practicing a lot,” Wiechman said of his work as a jack of all trades. “I’ve been working at (getting to that height in the pole vault) like that for two years. Finally got in the five meter club. That’s kind of a mile marker in a long journey. It’s awesome.”

Freshman Addie Shaw has been a huge performer in her debut season as a Bulldog. The former Nebraska Class D state champion now ranks second in the NAIA in the shot put thanks to her winning toss of 47’ ¾” (more than six inches better than her previous PR) on Friday. Her mother starred as a javelin thrower at Nebraska Wesleyan.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be near 47,” Shaw said. “I thought it was going to be close to my PR. It’s a really good feeling. I knew that the two throws before that weren’t the best so I was really trying to get one out there so I could make my mark and make finals.”

Named NAIA National Field Athlete of the Week two days ago, sophomore Allie Brooks made another run at breaking her own school record in the pole vault. She attempted to clear 13’ 1,” but settled for second place with a mark of 12’ 4 ¾.” She continues to lead the nation in the event. Concordia would have two of the top three women’s vaulters in the nation, but sophomore McKenzie Gravo is redshirting this indoor season.

Other event champions included Cody Boellstorff yet again in the weight throw and Nathan Matters in the 600 meter run. Concordia also had runner-up efforts from Brooks, Ben Hulett (60 meter hurdles), Robb (shot put), Emily Sievert (3,000 meters) and Marti Vlasin (600 meters). Additionally, Samantha Liermann produced a season best in the shot put and Zach Lurz, battling injury, put up season bests in the shot put and the weight throw. Also in the women’s pole vault, Andrea Anderson had a PR of 10’ 11.” Thomas Taylor placed third in the mile with a new personal best.

Not only did the Bulldogs win three of four throwing events, they held down the top three spots in the women’s shot put. Said Beisel of Shaw, “She is just rocking it. Her toss was just huge.”

Up next are the GPAC championships hosted by Dordt on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 17-18). The meet will be held at the Recreation Center in Sioux Center, Iowa. For more details on the meet, click HERE. At the 2016 GPAC indoor championships, the Bulldogs placed second on the women’s side and third on the men’s side.

Concordia Indoor Invitational event champions

  • Men’s 4x400 meter relay (3:20.37)
  • Cody Boellstorff – weight throw (66’ 5 ¼”)
  • Nathan Matters – 600 meters (1:22.18)
  • Kali Robb – weight throw (59’ 4”)
  • Adrianna Shaw – shot put (47’ ¼”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – 60 meter hurdles (8.21); pole vault (16’ 4 ¾”)

Robb, Wiechman collect GPAC weekly awards

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Athlete of the week recognition rolled in for a pair of Concordia University track and field representatives with national leading marks. On Wednesday (Feb. 15), senior Kali Robb earned the distinction of Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Women’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Week while senior Lucas Wiechman was named GPAC Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week. Head coach Matt Beisel’s track and field programs have totaled eight GPAC weekly awards this indoor season.

Robb, the defending GPAC champion in the weight throw, took over the national lead in the weight throw with a winning toss of 59’ 4” at last week’s Concordia Indoor Invitational. The Sidney, Neb., native also placed second in the shot put with a mark of 46’ 4 ¼” (fifth best in the NAIA). Robb is a seven-time All-American and a key member of the 2016 outdoor national championship team.

Wiechman has raked in three GPAC athlete of the week awards this season while starring both on the track and in the field. At the Concordia Invite, the Pilger, Neb., native won every event he competed in while posting personal bests in the 60 meter hurdles (8.21) and the pole vault (16’ 4 ¾”). He also ran the leadoff leg for the Bulldog 4x400 meter relay that clocked a season best of 3:20.37. Wiechman ranks No. 1 nationally in the heptathlon, an event he placed runner up in at the 2016 indoor national championships.

Robb, Wiechman and the men’s and women’s track and field teams will return to action this weekend at the 2017 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships (Feb. 17-18). Based on last week’s release, Concordia sports national rankings of sixth on the men’s side and 10th on the women’s side.

2017 Concordia track & field GPAC athletes of the week
Feb. 15 – Kali Robb (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Feb. 8 – *Allie Brooks (field); CJ Muller (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 25 – *Cody Boellstorff (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 18 – CJ Muller (track)
*NAIA National Athlete of the Week

Brooks breaks meet, school records in outdoor opening meet

WAYNE, Neb. – While immersed in a chilly and damp spring day, the Concordia University track and field teams opened up the 2017 outdoor season on Saturday at the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College. Sophomore Allie Brooks kicked it off by breaking another school pole vault record and was one of two Bulldogs to claim event titles. Brooks and four of her teammates turned in automatic national qualifying marks. Collectively, Concordia busted out 31 personal bests.

It was a positive start for head coach Matt Beisel’s squads, which last competed at the 2017 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships, where the men finished as the national runner up and the women placed seventh.

“It was a pretty good meet,” Beisel said. “The weather was not great and we knew that going in. It was about 38 degrees with blowing wind, cloudy and misty. It did effect our athletes a little bit, but we still managed to do some good things. We just wanted to get out in the 10K and run it as a workout. All four still ran big personal bests. It tells me they’re poised for some big breakthroughs.

“This was a good early meet that got us some qualifying marks. For the runners, it gave us an evaluation of where they’re at now that they’ve had time off from competition.”

A third-place national finisher at the indoor championships, Brooks has now bumped Cassie Starks down to No. 2 on the program’s indoor and outdoor all-time lists. Already owner of the school indoor pole vault standard of 12’ 10 ¾, Brooks jumped 12’ 8 ¾” on Saturday. Starks’ former record was 12’ 6 ¼.” Brooks’ mark also broke the Wildcat Classic meet record. In the same event, 2016 All-American McKenzie Gravo posted a ‘B’ standard clearance of 11’ 5 ¾” and placed third. Gravo competed unattached during the indoor season.

It was also a solid day for the female throwers. Kali Robb continues to do her thing. She qualified for nationals in both the shot put (44’ 8 ¼”) and the discus (143’ 8”) while placing third and fifth, respectively, in those events. Bulldogs held down the three through five placements in the shot put with national marks also produced by Adrianna Shaw (44’ 8 ¼”) and Samantha Liermann (44’ 5 ¼”). Tricia Svoboda was the team’s highest finisher in the discus. She placed third with her automatic toss of 152’ 1.” Carley Skorepa (139’ 7”) and Amy Migl (139’ 4”) put up ‘B’ marks in the discus.

On the track, CJ Muller ran a personal best of 1:55.52 in the 800 meters and won the event. Second place runners were Evan Asche (10,000 meters), Alayna Daberkow (400 meter hurdles) and Taylor Grove (10,000 meters).

The Wildcat Classic will conclude on Sunday with the men’s hammer throw and the women’s javelin. Both events will get started at 12 p.m. CT. The outdoor season will continue next Saturday at the Bronco Open hosted by Hastings.

Automatic national qualifiers

  • Allie Brooks (pole vault)
  • Samantha Liermann (shot put)
  • Kali Robb (discus; shot put)
  • Adrianna Shaw (shot put)
  • Tricia Svoboda (discus)

Boellstorff busts out big toss on final day at Wildcat Classic

WAYNE, Neb. – The hammer throw and javelin were the lone events contested on Sunday, the final day of the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College. A 2015 national champ in the hammer throw, senior Cody Boellstorff appears poised to compete for another title. He easily outdistanced the field in Sunday’s competition while headlining the efforts of the Concordia University track and field teams.

With national qualifying marks produced by Boellstorff and Sydney Meyer on the final day of the meet, the Bulldogs finished the weekend with a total of eight automatic qualifying performances.

Last outdoor season, former teammate Josh Slechta took over the school record in the hammer by popping off a toss of 210’ 10.” With his throw of 205’ 7” on Sunday, Boellstorff came within an eyelash of his own personal best and will likely have put himself atop the national leaderboard following the first week of the outdoor season for head coach Matt Beisel’s programs. Also in the men’s hammer, Philip Kreutzer (169’ 9”) and Jacob Cornelio (169’ 1”) turned in ‘B’ standard national marks.

Meyer secured her spot at the national championships with her throw of 172’ 9” in the hammer. Teammate Tricia Svoboda, already a qualifier in the discus, fell just short of the ‘B’ mark in the hammer. Svoboda and Meyer were also the top two place finishers in the women’s javelin.

In Saturday’s action at Wayne State, Allie Brooks broke the school outdoor pole vault record, giving her both program pole vault standards. Seven of Concordia’s current eight national qualifying marks are in the throws.

The Bulldogs will travel west for their next meet – the Bronco Open hosted by Hastings. The action next Saturday is slated to get started at 10 a.m. CT.

Automatic national qualifiers at Wildcat Classic

  • Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw)
  • Allie Brooks (pole vault)
  • Samantha Liermann (shot put)
  • Sydney Meyer (hammer throw)
  • Kali Robb (discus; shot put)
  • Adrianna Shaw (shot put)
  • Tricia Svoboda (discus)

Boellstorff, Brooks earn GPAC weekly awards

SEWARD, Neb. – Both GPAC weekly honors in the ‘field’ category went to the Concordia University track and field programs, as announced by the conference on Wednesday. Both national event leaders, senior Cody Boellstorff and sophomore Allie Brooks have been tabbed GPAC Field Athletes of the Week. Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads have now collected a total of 10 GPAC athlete of the week awards in 2017 (see list at bottom).

Boellstorff came up just an inch short of a personal best with his hammer throw toss of 205’ 7” in a winning performance at last week’s Wildcat Classic. That mark currently leads the NAIA by more than 35 feet. A native of Waverly, Neb., Boellstorff will continue his bid to reclaim the school record in the hammer, which is held by former teammate Josh Slechta (210’ 10”). Boellstorff is a three-time national champion with one of those titles coming in the hammer (2015).

Meanwhile, Brooks continues to rewrite the record book for Bulldog female vaulters. By clearing 12’ 8 ¾” at the Wildcat Classic, Brooks leapt Cassie Starks (12’ 6 ¼”) for a new school outdoor pole vault standard. Brooks also owns the school record in the indoor pole vault (12’ 10 ¾”). A third-place national finisher and GPAC champion this past indoor season, the Seward High School product is the NAIA pole vault leader by 3.5 inches.

Boellstorff, Brooks and the rest of the Bulldogs are getting set to return to action on Saturday at the Bronco Open hosted by Hastings. Action is slated to get started at 10 a.m. CT.

2017 Concordia track & field GPAC athletes of the week
March 29 – Cody Boellstorff (field); Allie Brooks (field)
Feb. 15 – Kali Robb (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Feb. 8 – *Allie Brooks (field); CJ Muller (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 25 – *Cody Boellstorff (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 18 – CJ Muller (track)
*NAIA National Athlete of the Week

Bronco Open called off

Due to expected cold and rainy conditions, a number of teams dropped out of the Bronco Open scheduled for Saturday, April 1. As a result, Hastings has canceled the Bronco Open. Next up for the Bulldogs is the Concordia Outdoor Invitational on April 7-8. It will be Concordia's first home meet of the 2017 outdoor season.

Bulldogs take six titles at Reiver Open

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Due to the cancelation of this weekend’s scheduled Bronco Open in Hastings, a small group of Bulldogs traveled to the Reiver Open hosted by Iowa Western Community College on Friday and Saturday. Representing Concordia University track and field, throwers accounted for five new automatic national qualifying marks. Additionally, the Bulldogs won six event titles at the meet that took place in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

It was a big day for Kali Robb, who unleashed throws in both the hammer throw (180’ 2”) and the shot put (46’ 7 ¼”) that are leading the nation. She won those events at the Reiver Open and also placed fourth in the discus. She has now secured her spot at the national championships in each of her three outdoor events.

The Reiver Open also marked the 2017 outdoor debut for four-time national champion Zach Lurz. His throw of 57’ 6 ½” in the shot put puts him at No. 1 in the NAIA. He took event titles in the hammer throw (192’ 2”) and the shot put while placing fifth in the discus with a ‘B’ standard mark of 157’ 5.” An additional national qualifying throw was turned in by Philip Kreutzer, who tossed the hammer 177’ 9” for a fifth-place claim at the Reiver Open.

Head coach Matt Beisel also entered several runners into the meet. In the men’s 800 meter race, which included four Bulldogs, CJ Muller clocked a first-place time of 1:54.82. Marti Vlasin won the 800 on the women’s side by finishing in 2:22.52. Another three men ran the 1,500 with Josiah McAllister placing third (4:12.69). An All-American on the basketball court, Quinn Wragge was the runner up to Vlasin in the 800.

The Bulldogs will stage their first home meet of the 2017 outdoor season next weekend when the Concordia Outdoor Invitational takes place Friday and Saturday (April 7-8) in and around Bulldog Stadium. The meet schedule can be viewed HERE.

UPDATE: Throwers Lurz, Robb upgraded to national athletes of week

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second week in a row, the Concordia University track and field program raked in both the men’s and women’s conference field honors of the week. This week’s GPAC accolades go to senior throwers Zach Lurz and Kali Robb. Later in the day on Wednesday, both Lurz and Robb were tabbed NAIA National Field Athletes of the Week. Bulldog track and field athletes have now combined for a dozen GPAC weekly honors and four NAIA national awards throughout the 2017 indoor and outdoor seasons.

A four-time national champion, Lurz made his 2017 outdoor debut at last week’s Reiver Open hosted by Iowa Western Community College. The nation’s most accomplished athlete in the shot put, Lurz leads the NAIA in the event thanks to his toss of 57’ 6 ½” in a winning effort at Iowa Western. His second automatic national qualifying mark of the weekend came in the hammer throw (192’ 2”), an event he now ranks at No. 3 on the national leaderboard. He also checks in at No. 11 in the NAIA in the discus (157’ 5”).

Meanwhile, Robb picked up her second GPAC weekly honor of 2017 after turning in two marks that rank No. 1 nationally. At the Reiver Open, she rose to the top of the NAIA leaderboard with throws of 46’ 7 ¼” in the shot put and 180’ 2” in the hammer throw. As part of last year’s NAIA outdoor national championship team, Robb placed runner up in the shot put, fifth in the hammer and sixth in the discus. The Sidney, Neb., native is a nine-time All-American.

Lurz, Robb and the rest of the Bulldogs are gearing up to host the Concordia Outdoor Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The meet schedule can be viewed HERE.

2017 Concordia track & field GPAC athletes of the week
April 5 – *Zach Lurz (field); *Kali Robb (field)
March 29 – Cody Boellstorff (field); Allie Brooks (field)
Feb. 15 – Kali Robb (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Feb. 8 – *Allie Brooks (field); CJ Muller (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 25 – *Cody Boellstorff (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 18 – CJ Muller (track)
*NAIA National Athlete of the Week

Bulldogs set to make first home appearance of outdoor season

SEWARD, Neb. – The annual Concordia Outdoor Invitational is set to get underway on Friday as the Bulldog track and field program prepares to play the role of meet host for the first time this outdoor season. This marks week three of the outdoor season for head coach Matt Beisel’s squads, which has also competed at the Wildcat Classic (March 25-26) and the Reiver Open (March 31 – April 1).

The Concordia Invite will allow for the largest number of participating Bulldog athletes since outdoor track got started in late March. Several athletes will be competing officially for the first time outdoors in 2017. The meet will get started at 4 p.m. CT on Friday with the hammer and javelin for both men and women. The bulk of the meet will take place on Saturday with events to fire off at 12 p.m.

Beisel’s athletes have combined for 13 automatic national qualifying marks with 11 of them coming in the throws. Concordia throwers own five marks that lead the nation. Those No. 1 throws are held by Cody Boellstorff in the hammer (205’ 7”), Zach Lurz in the shot put (57’ 6 ½”), Kali Robb in the hammer (180’ 2”) and the shot put (46’ 7 ¼”) and Tricia Svoboda in the discus (152’ 1”). Robb has qualified for nationals in three events and Lurz has qualified in two.

The Concordia Invite will provide many more opportunities for runners and, with an expected high temperature in the 70s, the weather should be the best it has been this spring. Among runners, sophomore Taylor Grove is the lone Bulldog with an automatic national qualifying mark. She finished the half marathon in 1:29:28 back in December to lock up her spot at nationals. Concordia relay teams still have not run at a meet during outdoor.

Only 12 Bulldog athletes competed last week after Hastings canceled the Bronco Open. Beisel and his staff scrambled to enter select athletes into the Reiver Open. Not only did Concordia take titles in four throwing events, it also won both 800 meter races. Marti Vlasin placed first on the women’s side and CJ Muller won on the men’s side. Making her first appearance on the track since finishing basketball season, Quinn Wragge finished as the runner up to Vlasin.

At the pole vault pit, the competition between Concordia teammates Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo should be an entertaining one. Brooks broke the program’s outdoor school record at the Wildcat Classic while Gravo came up just short of an automatic national qualifying mark. Brooks and Gravo account for the last three GPAC pole vault titles and both have won All-America awards.

Competitors from a total of nine institutions will be represented at the Concordia Outdoor Invite (full list below). Athletes from NAIA, NCAA Division I, II and III will all be present at the meet.

Competing institutions at Concordia Outdoor Invite
*National rankings in parentheses
Creighton University
Concordia University (M: 13 | W: 4)
Doane University
Grand View University (W: 21)
Hastings College (W: 17)
Midland University (M: 18)
Nebraska Wesleyan University (W: 6)
Wayne State College (W: 21)
York College­

Track teams earn national rankings in first outdoor release

USTFCCA NAIA rankings

SEWARD, Neb. – Since the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) began releasing its computer ratings in 2014, both Concordia University track and field programs have appeared inside the top 25 in each edition of the NAIA national rankings. The run continued this week with the release of the first set of 2017 outdoor ratings. Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads appeared at No. 4 on the women’s side and No. 13 on the men’s side.

Under head coach Kregg Einspahr, the Bulldogs won a men’s outdoor national championship in 2015 and then did the same last year on the women’s side. The men are in the midst of an incredible run in which they have placed inside the top five at five-consecutive national meets. That stretch includes two runner-up finishes in addition to the national title. The women have been similarly impressive, placing 11th or better at seven national championships in a row.

Concordia’s collection of accomplished throwers is again a major reason for the national ratings and success. As a group, Bulldog throwers own five marks that lead the nation. Those No. 1 throws are held by Cody Boellstorff in the hammer (205’ 7”), Zach Lurz in the shot put (57’ 6 ½”), Kali Robb in the hammer (180’ 2”) and the shot put (46’ 7 ¼”) and Tricia Svoboda in the discus (152’ 1”). Concordia throwers possess 11 total national qualifying marks. On Wednesday, Lurz and Robb were both named NAIA National Field Athletes of the Week.

Concordia’s national qualifying list includes five ‘B’ standard qualifying marks in addition to the 13 automatic marks achieved in 2017. Robb leads the field with three national marks. Lurz has two automatic throws and a ‘B’ mark.

The Bulldogs are getting set to host the annual Concordia Outdoor Invitational on Friday and Saturday (April 7-8). The meet schedule can be viewed HERE.

Boellstorff, Robb set records; Bulldogs dominate hammer

SEWARD, Neb. – It was a banner day in the hammer throw as the Concordia University track and field programs hosted day one of their own Concordia Outdoor Invitational. All of Friday’s action took place at the throwing fields on the eastern most part of campus. That’s where Cody Boellstorff became a new school standard bearer and Kali Robb equaled a program record of her own.

The accomplished group of Bulldog throwers lived up to its billing on Friday. Already the national leader in the hammer throw, Boellstorff broke former teammate Josh Slechta’s previous school record (210’ 10”) by unleashing a throw of 211’ 9.” Additionally, Zach Lurz became just the third Bulldog in school history to break 200 feet in the hammer with his personal best of 206’ 6.” In a show of Concordia’s depth, Philip Kreutzer hit 184’ 4” and JC Cornelio turned in a fresh automatic national qualifying mark of 180’ 9.”

Robb entered the weekend leading the nation in both the shot put and hammer. On Friday, she produced outdistanced her season best by more than 10 feet while equaling the school record held by Jamie Crouse (190’ 5”). Robb placed third in a loaded field at the Concordia Invite. Teammates Sydney Meyer (179’ 3”), Tricia Svoboda (169’ 9”), Johanna Ragland (158’ 6”) and Adrianna Shaw (158’ 2”) placed fourth, sixth, ninth and 10th, respectively. All of those measurements represented personal bests with Meyer and Svoboda hitting the ‘A’ standard qualifying mark.

In the women’s javelin, Meyer (123’ 10”) and Jasmine Eickhoff (118’ 8”) finished third and fourth, respectively. On the men’s side, Jake Rodgers (152’ 3”) turned in the highest placement among Bulldogs, finishing seventh.

The Concordia Invite will heat up on Saturday. Both running and field events are set to begin at 12 p.m. CT. All events will take place inside Bulldog Stadium with the exception of the discus and shot put, which will be staged just to the east of the stadium.

Live coverage on Saturday:
Results
Webcast

Bulldogs win nine events in strong showing in front of home fans

SEWARD, Neb. – The big guns are firing on all cylinders for the Concordia University track and field teams. As part of the two-day Concordia Outdoor Invitational, Bulldog athletes combined for nine event titles, four runner-up finishes and a total of 22 automatic national qualifying marks. In Friday’s hammer throw competitions, Cody Boellstorff broke the school record on the men’s side and Kali Robb equaled it on the women’s side.

The Concordia Invite marked the third meet of the outdoor season for head coach Matt Beisel’s squad. However, it was the first outdoor meet of 2017 for many athletes who competed this weekend.

“It was just a fantastic day,” Beisel said. “We let the sunshine come out and cut them loose. We weren’t the only team out there with really good marks today. Everybody was glad to see some favorable weather. It was really nice to see some of our seniors run the races of their lives. I just saw them all working together. I’m proud to be a Bulldog.”

Most Outstanding Male Athlete of the Meet at the 2017 GPAC and NAIA national championships, Lucas Wiechman turned it up another notch on Saturday. He put together personal bests in three first-place performances with his wins coming in the 110 meter hurdles (14.43), 400 meter hurdles (54.17) and the pole vault (16’ 7 ¼”).  His marks in the 110 hurdles and pole vault were both met national qualifying standards.

Among the throwers, who accounted for 16 national qualifying marks at the Concordia Invite, Zach Lurz stood out. After a significant personal best in the hammer on Friday, Lurz came back on Saturday and won the discus (179’ 9”) and placed as the runner up in the shot put (55’ 5 ½”). On the women’s side, Robb turned in a second place toss of 48’ ¾” in the shot put on Saturday.

A host of throwers turned in fresh national marks, including JC Cornelio in the hammer on Friday. Fellow freshman Jacy Embray has also qualified for nationals for the first time thanks to her throw of 142’ 10” in the discus. Other not previously mentioned long tossers with national marks on the weekend were Philip Kreutzer, Samantha Liermann, Sydney Meyer, Adrianna Shaw, Jan Steinbrueck and Tricia Svoboda.

On the track, CJ Muller has found his comfort zone in the 800 meters, an unfamiliar distance for the three-time 600 meter All-American. Muller blazed to a first place finish in a time of 1:51.40, automatically qualifying him for nationals in the 800. The Omaha native beat out a field of 34 runners in the event.

“I came out of high school doing 400s and never would have thought I would run 800s,” Muller said. “Slowly over the years I’ve started running farther races. This year I told Mark (Samuels) that’s what I should really go for. We’ve just been running a lot of mileage and lots of 800s in practice. Here we are, third 800 of the year and a PR.”

Four pole vaulters cleared a national qualifying height, including two on the men’s side and two on the women’s side. Allie Brooks won the women’s competition, leaping 12’ 1 ½.” Teammate McKenzie Gravo cleared the same height, turning in a fresh national mark. In the men’s pole vault, Tyrell Reichert went over 15’ 5” and will join Wiechman in the event at the national championships in May.

The other winner on the track for the Bulldogs was Kohlton Gabehart in the steeplechase (10:00.55). A national qualifier for the first time this past indoor season, Scott Johnson bested the field in the long jump with his mark of 22’ 11 ¼.”

The first national rankings of the outdoor season were released by the USTFCCCA on Wednesday. The Bulldogs were ranked fourth on the women’s side and 13th on the men’s side.

Event winners

  • Cody Boellstorff – hammer throw (211’ 9”)
  • Allie Brooks – pole vault (12’ 1 ½”)
  • Kohlton Gabehart – steeplechase (10:00.55)
  • Scott Johnson – long jump (22’ 11 ¼”)
  • Zach Lurz – discus (179’ 9”)
  • CJ Muller – 800 meters (1:51.40)
  • Lucas Wiechman – 110 meter hurdles (14.43); 400 meter hurdles (54.17); pole vault (16’ 7 ¼”)

GPAC preview: Bulldogs eye top-of-conference finishes

MEET INFO

SEWARD, Neb. – GPAC week is here for Concordia University’s nationally-ranked track and field programs (fourth on the men’s side; ninth on the women’s side). The 2017 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held Friday and Saturday at the Recreation Center in Sioux Center, Iowa. Dordt will serve as the host of this year’s event.

At the 2016 conference indoor meet that took place inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln, the Bulldogs placed second on the women’s side and third on the men’s side. A program with impressive top-of-the-line athletes, Concordia has proved to be an even better nationals team in recent seasons. At the 2016 indoor championships, the Bulldogs recorded two top-five team finishes.

This will be Matt Beisel’s first conference meet since taking over as head coach. After a strong showing at last week’s Concordia Indoor Invitational, Beisel believes his teams are primed to be at their best this weekend.

“We have a shot at winning on the men’s side and I think our girls can finish top three,” Beisel said at Tuesday’s Bulldog Athletic Association gathering. “We’re going to put everything into it. There’s going to be a lot of focus on getting points in every possible event and having kids that might be sitting 11th or 12th in their event be more than their rankings. All of our kids are ready for breakthrough performances. That’s what we’re shooting for and pushing for.”

The Concordia men enter the meet with GPAC leading marks in six events. The women top the conference in three events. Senior Lucas Wiechman has been a star all indoor season for the Bulldogs. Again named a GPAC athlete of the week on Wednesday (Feb. 15), the native of Pilger, Neb., paces the GPAC in both the 60 meter hurdles and the heptathlon. He’s also No. 2 in the pole vault.

Additionally, assistant coach Ed McLaughlin will roll out strong contenders for conference championships in each of the throwing events. Named the 2016 NAIA Midwest National Field Athlete of the Year for indoor, Zach Lurz possesses a total of three conference titles and three shot put national championships in his career. Teammate Cody Boellstorff is the current national leader and defending conference and national champion in the weight throw. On the women’s side, senior Kali Robb tops all NAIA competitors in the weight throw. She won the 2016 GPAC indoor weight throw title. Freshman Addie Shaw ranks second in the GPAC and nationally in the shot put.

Pole vault coach Jason Berry is hoping the program can extend its run of five-straight GPAC titles in the women’s vault. Recent Concordia women’s pole vault champions include McKenzie Gravo (2016 indoor/outdoor), Cassie Starks (2015 indoor/outdoor) and Shelby (2014 outdoor). Sophomore Allie Brooks, the school record holder, is a heavy conference favorite going into this weekend. Her mark of 12’ 10 ¾” leads the GPAC by more than a foot. She’s also tied atop the conference in the high jump (5’ 7”).

The Concordia men are hoping to hoist the GPAC championship trophy for the first time since the 2015 outdoor season when they also went on to win the NAIA national championship. Between 2014 and 2015, the Bulldog men won three of four GPAC titles, loosening Doane’s stranglehold. The last Concordia women’s GPAC title occurred in 2012 at the outdoor meet. During the GPAC era, the Bulldog track and field programs have also produced a combined 23 conference runner-up finishes.

Now graduated, Kim Wood put forth one of the greatest conference meet performances ever by a Bulldog at the 2016 GPAC indoor championships when she won four conference titles on the track. In three of those races, she broke GPAC meet records while winning the GPAC Indoor Track and Field Outstanding Athlete of the Year honor.

Standout runner CJ Muller will have the opportunity to defend his GPAC title in the 600 meter run. He’s also part of a 4x400 meter relay that sports the top time in the conference. The 4x4 is solidified by three Bulldogs who rank in the top nine of the GPAC in the 400 meters: Muller (second), Jake Rodgers (fourth) and Wiechman (ninth). The other member of that group, Nathan Matters, possesses the conference’s fourth-best time in the 600.

Beisel is ready for meet day to arrive. “I’m excited about it. I’m starting to get a little edgy,” Beisel said. “I know I’m not going to sleep too well going into it, but it’s part of the fun of it.”

According to the USTFCCCA rankings released on Wednesday (Feb. 15), the GPAC contains a total of 11 top 25 squads – six on the men’s side and five on the women’s side. The USTFCCA also ranks the GPAC as the second best NAIA track and field conference for both men and women.

Bulldogs leading 2017 GPAC lists
Men’s 4x400 meter relay
Cody Boellstorff – weight throw
Allie Brooks – pole vault; high jump
Scott Johnson – long jump
CJ Muller – 600 meters
Kali Robb – weight throw
Lucas Wiechman – 60 meter hurdles; heptathlon

View complete GPAC leaderboard

2016 Concordia GPAC indoor champions
Cody Boellstorff (weight throw)
Stephanie Coley (shot put)
McKenzie Gravo (pole vault)
Zach Lurz (shot put)
CJ Muller (600 meters)
Kali Robb (weight throw)
Kim Wood (600 meters; 800 meters; 1,000 meters; one mile)

Concordia all-time conference titles
MENindoor: 2014 | outdoor: 2014, 2015
WOMENindoor: 2010 | outdoor: 1998, 2010, 2012

Concordia all-time conference runner-up finishes
MENindoor: 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 | outdoor: 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016
WOMENindoor: 2003, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016 | outdoor: 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Nationally-ranked GPAC teams

*According to USTFCCCA
MEN
2 – Doane
4 – Concordia
10 – Dordt
14 – Northwestern
15 – Midland
23 – Hastings
WOMEN
4 – Doane
7 – Hasings
9 – Concordia
11 – Northwestern
14 – Dordt

Wiechman takes heptathlon lead into day two of GPAC championships

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Senior Lucas Wiechman has put himself in position for a conference title following the opening day of the 2017 GPAC Track & Field National Championships hosted by Dordt College in the Recreation Center in Sioux Center, Iowa. Friday’s action showcased all five events in the women’s pentathlon and four of seven events in the men’s heptathlon.

The conference meet will conclude on Saturday. Live results can be followed HERE. To view heat sheets, click HERE.

In the four events he competed in on Friday, Wiechman placed first in the long jump (21’ 11”), second in the 55 meter dash (6.78), fourth in the shot put (37’ 6”) and sixth in the high jump (6’). Wiechman has 2,746 total points heading into Saturday. His career best is 5,176 points. Wiechman is seeking his first career indoor GPAC title. He has twice captured conference championships in the decathlon and was also the 2016 GPAC outdoor titlist in the 110 hurdles.

Also in the heptathlon, senior Thomas Matik sits in eighth place with 2,340 points, giving him a shot at all-conference recognition should he hold or improve his positioning. On the women’s side, Bulldogs Jessica Deterding (2,962) and Anna Beune (2,792) have already locked up all-conference honors thanks to fifth- and eighth-place finishes, respectively. Teammate Sophia Hoelz (2,724) finished just outside of the top eight. Deterding posted personal bests in the long jump, 800 meters and shot put.

The action will pick up significantly on Saturday. The heptathlon is set to resume at 9 a.m. CT. Field events will begin with the men’s weight throw at 12 p.m. Running events will get started at 2 p.m. View the event schedule HERE.

Bulldog men place second, women fourth at GPAC championships

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The Concordia University men’s track and field team made a strong push for a conference championship, but settled for second place in a meet that came down to the wire. On the women’s side, the Bulldogs finished fourth. Concordia won conference titles in a total of nine events and collected 54 personal bests while competing in the 2017 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Dordt in Sioux Center, Iowa.

It was Matt Beisel’s first conference championship meet as head coach of the Bulldogs. From an individual perspective, senior Lucas Wiechman stole the spotlight with three individual GPAC titles (55 meter hurdles, heptathlon and pole vault) and one as part of the 4x400 meter relay. The native of Pilger, Neb., was named the Men’s Most Outstanding Athlete of the Meet.

“The entire team worked together to produce tremendous efforts,” Beisel said. “This was led by our seniors in most of the event areas. On the guys’ side, we finished just short of Doane. We made a few mistakes where we dropped points in some things we probably shouldn’t have. There were some injuries that factored in. It just is what it is.

“I’m excited that the level of effort was everything that we needed to get where we were. CJ Muller, Lucas Wiechman, Zach Lurz, Cody Boellstorff and some of the other throwers put huge numbers out there in multiple events. We had a really great meet.”

The men emerged from the meet with seven GPAC titles and 150.5 total points (Doane finished with 162). Wiechman’s performance was especially impressive. Not only was he part of four conference titles, he also placed fourth in the long jump (personal best 22’ 7 ¼”) in an exhausting day at the Recreation Center.

Though ranked fourth in the conference and fifth nationally in the shot put entering the meet, Zach Lurz rose to the occasion with a season best toss of 58’ 1.” The GPAC shot put meet record holder, Lurz has now won five career conference shot put titles. Throwers captured a total of 12 all-conference positions while winning three of the four GPAC titles. Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Kali Robb (shot put) joined Lurz as champions. Throwing runner ups were Addie Shaw (shot put) and Robb (weight throw). In the women’s shot put Johanna Ragland turned in a fresh automatic national qualifying mark of 44’ 2.”

Concordia swept titles in the pole vault with sophomore Allie Brooks also winning on the women’s side. She cleared 12’ 4 ¾” while continuing a long line of Bulldog champions in the women’s vault. She follows conference titlists McKenzie Gravo (2016 indoor/outdoor), Cassie Starks (2015 indoor/outdoor) and Shelby Yelden (2014 outdoor).

On the track, senior CJ Muller defended his 2016 GPAC indoor title in the 600 meter race by clocking in at 1:20.31. He was also a second place finisher in the 800 meters and collaborated on the winning 4x4. Additionally, sophomore Nathan Matters qualified for the national championships in the 600 with his time of 1:21.47. He placed third in the event.

Other top three finishers not previously mentioned were Andrea Anderson (third in pole vault), Jessica Deterding (second in triple jump), Ben Hulett (third in 55 meter hurdles), Scott Johnson (third in long jump) and Jake Rodgers (third in 400 meters).

Concordia came into the meet with hopes of winning the men’s title and perhaps a runner-up claim on the women’s side. All in all, Beisel felt like it was a solid weekend showing.

“We are of course disappointed that we didn’t place higher, but we’re looking forward to indoor nationals,” Beisel said. “We’re also excited about outdoor season where we’re strong in a number of events that don’t exist in indoor.”

The 2017 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships are set to play out March 2-4 at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field in Johnson City, Tenn. At last year’s indoor national championships, the Concordia men took third place and the women finished fifth.

2017 Concordia GPAC indoor champions

  • Men’s 4x400 meter relay (Wiechman, Matters, Olson, Muller)
  • Cody Boellstorff (weight throw)
  • Allie Brooks (pole vault)
  • Zach Lurz (shot put)
  • CJ Muller (600 meters)
  • Kali Robb (shot put)
  • Lucas Wiechman (55 meter hurdles; heptathlon; pole vault)

Wiechman: "It's cool to see where I've come from"

By his own admission, he was just “OK” in high school and “not that fast at all” as a college freshman when he could hurl the shot put a whopping 12 feet. A national champion in the making? Ehhhh.

“Oh boy,” Lucas Wiechman recalls assistant coach Mark Samuels muttering while timing athletes in practice. That wasn’t, oh boy, this guy is going to be a star! It was more like, oh boy, this kid needs some work.

“It’s just kind of cool to see where I’ve come from,” says Wiechman, who, would you believe it, is the national event leader in the heptathlon. The Pilger, Neb., native is now the one with the target on his back after capturing GPAC titles last week in the 55 meter hurdles, heptathlon, pole vault and another as a member of the 4x400 meter relay. All that point scoring added up to GPAC Outstanding Athlete of the Meet honors for Wiechman.

You can file Wiechman under the category of “Concordia Bulldog that almost never was.” Though he broke through with a state title in the 300 meter hurdles as a senior, Wiechman had to be convinced that college track was the right move. Also a football team captain and four-year letterwinner in wrestling at Wisner-Pilger, Wiechman appeared set to end his athletic career and attend the University of Nebraska-Kearney, solely as a student.

After making a campus visit to UNK, Wiechman experienced a change of heart. Something told him he needed to be somewhere else – and that somewhere else was Concordia. Instead of going straight home from his visit at UNK, he made a beeline to Seward because it “was just one of those feelings that this is the place.”

Says Wiechman, “Ed (McLaughlin) called my head coach and was like, ‘Hey, can we talk to Lucas?’ I was just like, ‘Heck, no. I’m not doing college track.’ I was pretty set on going to UNK and I went on a campus visit there. On the way back, we went out of our way to come back and swung by here. There was a high school track meet going on. I talked to the coaches and set up a meeting. Bada bing, bada boom, I’m here.”

Since he’s here, Wiechman, a member of Concordia’s first-ever national championship team (outdoor 2015), figures he might as well see what he’s capable of. In reality, the small town Nebraskan was better equipped than he lets on. He won his first GPAC title in the decathlon as a freshman while qualifying for nationals in both indoor and outdoor.

But there was an initial shock Wiechman had to overcome, like the first time he watched former pole vault All-American Carson Farr in practice. Farr put the bar at a height that gave Wiechman disbelief.

“I was like a 13-foot vaulter,” Wiechman said. “Carson that first meet goes like 16-4. That’s three feet. That’s a big jump for me. During practice he would put up the bar. It was just so high for everything I was doing. It was kind of a big eye opener. I was like, ‘Wow, I am not that good.’ I steadily kind of worked my way up.”

My how the tables have turned. Wiechman is now even steven with Farr on the program’s all-time indoor pole vault list and, when it comes to the heptathlon, everyone in the nation is looking up at Wiechman. He’s also No. 4 on both the national 60 meter hurdle and pole vault lists.

“Lucas happens to be one of these people who can do multiple events well,” said head track and field coach Matt Beisel. “He seems to have the right combination of intelligence, endurance, explosiveness and coordination. He’s able to repeat quality performances. It’s really cool being around a person who is such a good guy and understands what self-sacrifice means.”

Wiechman’s talents as an all-around athlete make him a natural multi-event star. Now he finds himself feeling a little more pressure that comes with a No. 1 national ranking.

“I always thought it would be really confidence-building, but it’s really stressful,” Wiechman said. “You have to hold your place. If you’re sitting eighth in an event, you can move up. You’re the underdog and you have nothing to lose. If you’re at the top, you have everything to lose. It’s stressful.”

The stress didn’t seem to get to Wiechman last week. He actually seems quite cool and confident on the exterior. He’s become so trusted by the coaches that Wiechman often works high school and youth camps and is like having another assistant coach. Beisel says he’s even learned from Wiechman, who aspires to be a doctor in his future.

One of five Wisner-Pilger alums in the Concordia track program, Wiechman’s star status wasn’t attained through laziness or complacency. His steady progression is something to be admired and followed by others behind him.

“Since the day he came here he’s just worked really hard,” said assistant coach Mark Samuels. “He bought into what the coaches have had to say. He’s just been developing for four years. He’s always been behind Kale Wolken for Doane, but I think that really helped drive him to keep working hard. He’s taken himself to a whole other level of determination. We asked him to do a lot this past weekend, but he wanted the challenge.”

As a freshman, Wiechman thought it was “pretty cool” and “like the hardest thing ever” when he broke nine seconds in the hurdles. What he’s doing as a senior is more than pretty cool.

Forty-five Bulldogs rake in all-GPAC honors; Wiechman picks up more awards

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – A total of 45 Concordia University track and field athletes were officially named indoor track and field all-conference athletes by the GPAC on Thursday (Feb. 23). Individually, the highest honors have been awarded to senior Lucas Wiechman. The native of Pilger, Neb., scored 37.5 points at last week’s conference championship meet, allowing him to claim the Men’s Hauff Mid-America Sports GPAC Indoor Track and Field Outstanding Athlete of the Year award. Additionally, Wiechman reeled in the Men’s Field Performance of the Meet honor (voted on by GPAC coaches) for his winning effort in the heptathlon.

In sum, 21 all-GPAC Bulldog male athletes combined for a total of 29 all-conference performances while 24 all-conference female athletes combined for 25 all-conference efforts. The list of All-GPAC honorees includes six individual titlists and one GPAC championship-winning relay for first-year head coach Matt Beisel. All-conference accolades were awarded for top-eight finishes at the 2017 GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Eleven Concordia men’s athletes were named all-conference in more than one event. The group is headlined by Wiechman, who garnered GPAC Men’s Most Outstanding Athlete of the Meet honors after winning three individual conference titles and one as part of the 4x400 meter relay. Other men’s individual champions were Cody Boellstorff (weight throw), Zach Lurz (shot put) and CJ Muller (600 meters). As a team, the Bulldog men finished second in a tight race at the top.

On the women’s side, seven athletes collected multiple All-GPAC awards, including conference champions Allie Brooks (pole vault) and Kali Robb (shot put). Robb also turned in a runner-up finish in the weight throw. Additional second-place finishers were Jessica Deterding (triple jump) and Adrianna Shaw (shot put). The women placed fourth as a team at the conference meet.

All that remains on the indoor schedule are the 2017 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships. The grand event will play out March 2-4 at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field in Johnson City, Tenn. Official national qualifiers will be announced by the NAIA on Friday.

2017 Concordia GPAC Indoor All-Conference performers

MEN

  • Taylor Beck (7th in triple jump)
  • Cody Boellstorff (1st in weight throw)
  • Samuel Ferguson (6th in 4x800 meter relay; 8th in 800 meters)
  • Ryan Gross (8th in pole vault)
  • Ben Hulett (3rd in 55 hurdles)
  • Scott Johnson (3rd in long jump; 5th in triple jump)
  • Philip Kreutzer (6th in shot put; 8th in weight throw)
  • Zach Lurz (1st in shot put; 5th in weight throw)
  • Thomas Matik (7th in heptathlon)
  • Nathan Matters (1st in 4x400 meter relay; 3rd in 600 meters)
  • Josiah McAllister (5th in 1,000 meters; 6th in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Chris Mosely-Hendricks (6th in 55 meters)
  • CJ Muller (1st in 600 meters; 1st in 4x400 meter relay; 2nd in 800 meters)
  • Ryan Olson (1st in 4x400 meter relay; 8th in 600 meters)
  • Tyrell Reichert (4th in triple jump)
  • Jake Rodgers (3rd in 400 meters; 4th in 200 meters)
  • Austin Schafer (7th in pole vault)
  • Chris Shelton (8th in 1,000 meters)
  • Thomas Taylor (6th in 4x800 meter relay; 7th in one mile)
  • Lucas Wiechman (1st in 55 hurdles; 1st in heptathlon; 1st in pole vault; 1st in 4x400 meter relay; 4th in long jump)
  • Patrick Wortmann (6th in 4x800 meter relay)

WOMEN

  • Andrea Anderson (3rd in pole vault)
  • Anna Beune (8th in long jump; 8th in pentathlon)
  • Christy Beune (6th in 4x400 meter relay; 8th in 55 meters)
  • Allie Brooks (1st in pole vault; 4th in high jump)
  • Alayna Daberkow (6th in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Jessica Deterding (2nd in triple jump; 5th in pentathlon)
  • Taylor Grove (7th in 5,000 meters)
  • Shelbi Hackbart (8th in one mile; 8th in 3,000 meters)
  • Bri Hallmark (7th in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Rebekah Hinrichs (7th in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Leah Larson (5th in triple jump)
  • Samantha Liermann (6th in shot put)
  • Sydney Meyer (4th in weight throw)
  • Tristen Mosier (6th in pole vault)
  • Jamie Nikodym (5th in 55 meter hurdles)
  • Marielle Plunk (6th in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Johanna Ragland (7th in shot put)
  • Miranda Rathjen (7th in 4x800 meter relay)
  • Kali Robb (1st in shot put; 2nd in weight throw)
  • Adrianna Shaw (2nd in shot put)
  • Emily Sievert (4th in 5,000 meters)
  • Tricia Svoboda (7th in weight throw)
  • Marti Vlasin (4th in 600 meters; 6th in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Emily Writebol (7th in 4x800 meter relay)

Bulldogs set to travel 19 athletes to indoor nationals

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – In conjunction with the NAIA release of official national qualifiers, the Concordia University track and field programs have announced their list of 19 athletes who will make the journey to Johnson City, Tenn., for next week’s 2017 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. The grand event will take place March 2-4 at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s national qualifying field is headlined by a group of nine seniors, including past national champions Cody Boellstorff (one in the weight throw, one in the hammer throw) and Zach Lurz (three in the shot put). GPAC champion in the shot put, Lurz has 11 total All-America honors in his career. Collectively, Concordia’s national qualifiers own a total of 42 All-America awards. Lurz is one of five Bulldogs with five or more career All-America plaques. The others are Kali Robb (seven), Lucas Wiechman (six), Boellstorff (five) and CJ Muller (five).

Assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s throws group produced three national qualifiers on the men’s side and six on the women’s side. Boellstorff and Lurz will both enter the national championships with NAIA national best marks. Adrianna Shaw is second in the shot put and Robb is third in both the shot and the weight throw.

Other top three marks include Lucas Wiechman in the heptathlon (first), Allie Brooks in the pole vault (second) and Muller in the 600 meters. Wiechman is also sitting fourth in both the 60 meter hurdles and the pole vault.

The Bulldogs are coming off of GPAC indoor championships finishes of second (men) and fourth (women). At the 2016 NAIA indoor national championships, Concordia turned in placements of third on the men’s side and fifth on the women’s side. In the latest national rankings released by the USTFCCCA, the Bulldog men checked in at No. 4 and the women at No. 9.

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

2017 Concordia indoor national qualifiers

*Current national ranking in parentheses

MEN

  • Cody Boellstorff, senior
    -Weight throw (1st, 67’ 2 ¼”)
    -Shot put (19th, 50’ 5 ½”)
  • Ben Hulett, junior
    -60 meter hurdles (13th, 8.28)
  • Scott Johnson, sophomore
    -Long jump (10th, 23’ 5 ½”)
  • Philip Kreutzer, senior
    -Weight throw (13th, 58’ 11 ¼”)
    -Shot put (19th, 50’ 5 ½”)
  • Zach Lurz, senior
    -Shot put (1st, 58’ 1”)
    -Weight throw (8th, 62’ 1 ¾”)
  • Nathan Matters, sophomore
    -4x400 meter relay (6th, 3:20.37)
    -600 meters (15th, 1:21.47)
  • CJ Muller, senior
    -600 meters (3rd, 1:20.07)
    -4x400 meter relay (6th, 3:20.37)
  • Tyrell Reichert, sophomore
    -Pole vault (11th, 15’ 5”)
  • Jake Rodgers, junior
    -4x400 meter relay (6th, 3:20.37)
  • Lucas Wiechman, senior
    -Heptathlon (1st, 5,073)
    -60 meter hurdles (4th, 8.18)
    -Pole vault (4th, 16’ 4 ¾”)
    -4x400 meter relay (6th, 3:20.37)

4x400 meter alternate: Ryan Olson

WOMEN

  • Allie Brooks, sophomore
    -Pole vault (2nd, 12’ 10 ¾”)
    -High jump (6th, 5’ 7”)
  • Samantha Liermann, sophomore
    -Shot put (11th, 45’ 3”)
  • Sydney Meyer, senior
    -Weight throw (6th, 57’ 5 ¾”)
  • Johanna Ragland, sophomore
    -Shot put (16th, 44’ 2”)
  • Kali Robb, senior
    -Shot put (3rd, 46’ 9 ½”)
    -Weight throw (3rd, 59’ 4”)
  • Adrianna Shaw, freshman
    -Shot put (2nd, 47’ ¼”)
  • Tricia Svoboda, senior
    -Weight throw (24th, 52’ 3 ¾”)
  • Marti Vlasin, senior
    -600 meters (32nd, 1:38.66)

Preview: Top 10 ranked Bulldogs bound for Johnson City

NAIA national championships pages: MEN | WOMEN

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University track and field program’s group of 2017 indoor national qualifiers departed from Seward on Monday, bound for Johnson City, Tenn. That’s where 19 Bulldogs will compete at the 2017 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships, set to take place Thursday through Saturday (March 2-4) at David E. Walker Track at Gentry Field. The indoor national meet had been held in Geneva, Ohio, for five years in a row before returning to Tennessee in 2016.

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. The men’s schedule of events can be viewed HERE. Find the women’s schedule HERE. Follow live results HERE.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s group of national qualifiers boasts an impressive haul of accolades. Both Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Zach Lurz (shot put) are defending indoor national champions. Together, they have a combined five individual national titles and were members of the 2015 Bulldog men’s outdoor national championship team. Collectively, Concordia’s national qualifiers have earned 43 career All-America awards. Lurz tops the list with 12 All-America honors in his distinguished career.

Based on the Track & Field Results Reporting System (TFRRS) lists entering the meet, the Bulldogs possess 14 top-eight national marks (see below). The top eight in each event at the national championships are recognized as All-Americans. Boellstorff (weight throw), Lurz (shot put) and Lucas Wiechman (heptathlon) all own national leading marks. Allie Brooks (pole vault) and Adrianna Shaw (shot put) are both sitting runner up. The GPAC Most Outstanding Athlete of the Year, Wiechman has three marks that rank inside the top four nationally.

  • Cody Boellstorff – 1st in weight throw (67’ 2 ¼”)
  • Zach Lurz – 1st in shot put (58’ 1”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – 1st in heptathlon (5,073)
  • Allie Brooks – 2nd in pole vault (12’ 10 ¾”)
  • Adrianna Shaw – 2nd in shot put (47’ ¼”)
  • CJ Muller – 3rd in the 600 meters (1:20.07)
  • Kali Robb – 3rd in shot put (46’ 9 ½”)
  • Kali Robb – 3rd in weight throw (59’ 4”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – 4th in pole vault (16’ 4 ¾”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – 4th in the 60 hurdles (8.18)
  • Men’s 4x400 meter relay – 6th (3:20.37)
  • Allie Brooks – 6th in high jump (5’ 7”)
  • Sydney Meyer – 6th in weight throw (57’ 5 ¾”)
  • Zach Lurz – 8th in weight throw (62’ 1 ¾”)

The wealth of individuals with big point scoring potential means the Bulldogs will have a shot to continue their run of success on the national stage. At the 2016 national championship events, the Concordia men placed third in indoor and then runner up in outdoor. Meanwhile, the women were fifth at the indoor national championships and then won the national title at the outdoor meet. Both Bulldog squads have placed inside the top five nationally at three-straight NAIA championships. The current national rankings calculated by the USTFCCCA have Beisel’s men ranked third and the women ninth.

Based on data that goes back to the 2000 NAIA indoor national championships, the Concordia men have turned in top 25 finishes 14 of 17 years. They have notched eight top-10 placements with a runner-up finish in 2000 during that same stretch. Meanwhile, the Bulldog women have 12 top 25 indoor finishes since 2000. Three of those placements were inside the top 10.

The NAIA indoor track and field championships are in their 52nd year on the men’s side and 37th year on the women’s side. The championships begin on March 2 with the women's pentathlon at 1 p.m. EST and the men's heptathlon at 1:30 p.m.

2017 Concordia indoor national qualifiers
Cody Boellstorff, Senior (All-America awards: 5; two national titles)
Allie Brooks, Sophomore (third trip to nationals)
Ben Hulett, Junior (first trip to nationals)
Scott Johnson, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Philip Kreutzer, Senior (All-America awards: 2)
Samantha Liermann, Sophomore (All-America awards: 2)
Zach Lurz, Senior (All-America awards: 12; three national titles)
Nathan Mattars, Sophomore (All-America awards: 1)
Sydney Meyer, Senior (third trip to nationals)
CJ Muller, Senior (All-America awards: 5)
Ryan Olson, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Johanna Ragland, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Tyrell Reichert, Sophomore (second trip to nationals)
Jake Rodgers, Junior (first trip to nationals)
Kali Robb, Senior (All-America awards: 7)
Adrianna Shaw, Freshman (first trip to nationals)
Tricia Svoboda, Senior (All-America awards: 2)
Lucas Wiechman, Senior (All-America awards: 6)
Marti Vlasin, Senior (All-America awards: 1) 

Concordia indoor national finishes since 2000
2016: M – 3rd | W – 5th
2015:
M – 5th | W – 11th
2014
: M – 17th| W – 11th
2013: M – 27th | W – 13th
2012: M – 38th | W – 29th
2011: M – 7th| W – 26th
2010: M – 15th| W – 12th
2009: M – 12th| W – 11th
2008: M – 7th| W – 14th
2007: M – 19th| W – 36th
2006: M – 5th| W – 29th
2005: M – 26th| W – 15th
2004: M – 7th| W – 27th
2003: M – 5th| W – 9th
2002: M – 20th| W – 8th
2001: M – 12th| W – 21st
2000: M – 2nd | W – 12th

Concordia outdoor national finishes since 2005
2016: M – 2nd | W – 1st
2015: M – 1st | W – 5th
2014: M – 11th | W – 9th
2013: M – 42nd | W – 20th
2012: M – 57th | W – 15th
2011: M – 11th | W – 57th
2010: M – 24th | W – 14th
2009: M – 7th | W – 19th
2008: M – 11th | W – 29th
2007: M – 15th | W – 24th
2006: M – 7th | W – 28th
2005: M – 13th | W – 17th

Boellstorff, Wiechman claim titles on day two of national championships

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The star power is evident for the Concordia University track and field programs. In Friday’s action at the 2017 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships, the Bulldogs backed up their lofty placements on the national leaderboard. Both Cody Boellstorff and Lucas Wiechman captured individual national titles as part of six All-America performances for Concordia on the second day of the national championships in Johnson City, Tenn.

With one day remaining in the meet, the Bulldogs are leading the nation with 26 points on the men’s side. They are second on the women’s side with 17.5 points, two behind the leader.

“It’s extremely exciting and I’m so proud of every single one of them,” said first-year head coach Matt Beisel. “At every meet, there are going to be people who perform to their capability and some people who don’t. You never know who that’s going to be. The focus of our team has been great. I’m very pleased with what happened both yesterday and today.”

Boellstorff has now seized three national titles in his accomplished career. On Friday, he defended his 2016 NAIA championship in the weight throw with his toss of 67’ 9.” He won the event by more than four feet. Boellstorff topped the NAIA in the weight throw from start to finish this indoor season. In the same event, teammate and fellow senior Zach Lurz (63’ 11 ½”) outperformed his No. 8 national ranking with a third-place finish. In the process, Lurz picked up the 13th All-America award of his career.

Also a national leader coming into the weekend, Wiechman finished off what he started on Thursday by earning his first-ever national title and his seventh All-America honor. Wiechman totaled 5,112 points for a season best. He didn’t stop there. The native of Pilger, Neb., also ran the open 60 meter hurdles and qualified for the finals, clocking in at 8.28 (eighth place). Wiechman will also compete in the pole vault and as part of the men’s 4x400 meter relay on Saturday. On Thursday, Wiechman and his 4x4 teammates turned in a season best time of 3:17.42, fifth best.

Named GPAC Most Outstanding Athlete of the Year, Wiechman has been stellar in his senior campaign. Said Beisel, “We’re really proud of him.”

The women’s weight throw also came through with 12 team points courtesy of a runner-up finish from Kali Robb (60’ 7 ¼”) and a fifth-place claim by Sydney Meyer (58’ 3 ¾”). It was the eighth All-America award for Robb, who was also the GPAC champion in the weight throw. Making her third trip to nationals, Meyer notched her first All-America award.

In the women’s pole vault, Allie Brooks entered the meet with a legitimate chance at bringing home a national title of her own. She held the No. 1 national ranking for parts of this indoor season and held the No. 2 spot going into the weekend. The GPAC indoor pole vault champion ended up in third place after clearing 12’ 2 ½.” It was the first career All-America award for Brooks, who also owns the school record in the indoor pole vault.

On the track, CJ Muller gave a strong showing by clocking in at 1:20.27 in the preliminaries of the 600 meter race. That time placed him second heading into the finals, which will take place Saturday afternoon. Muller is a two-time All-American in the event. Muller will also be a key figure for the 4x400 meter relay that will gallop in the finals on the championship’s closing day.

Others who competed on Friday, but did not garner top-eight finishes were Ben Hulett (60 meter hurdles), Scott Johnson (long jump), Philip Kreutzer (weight throw), Nathan Matters (600 meters), Marti Vlasin (600 meters) and Tricia Svoboda (weight throw).

The Bulldogs appear primed for impressive team national finishes once again in 2016.

“Anything can happen tomorrow,” Beisel said. “I don’t even want to estimate what we might do. There are so many moving parts in a meet like this. We’ll just see what happens. If we continue doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll have good results.”

All-Americans

  • Cody Boellstorff: weight throw (1st)
  • Allie Brooks: pole vault (3rd)
  • Zach Lurz: weight throw (3rd)
  • Sydney Meyer: weight throw (5th)
  • Kali Robb: weight throw (2nd)
  • Lucas Wiechman: heptathlon (1st)

Schedule for Saturday, March 4 (times are CT)

  • 9 a.m. – Women’s Shot Put (Liermann, Ragland, Robb, Shaw)
  • 11:55 a.m. – Men’s 60 Meter Hurdle Finals (Wiechman)
  • 12 p.m. – Men’s Shot Put (Boellstorff, Kreutzer, Lurz
  • 12:15 p.m. – Men’s Pole Vault (Reichert, Wiechman)
  • 12:30 p.m. – Women’s High Jump (Allie Brooks)
  • 12:35 p.m. – Men’s 600 Meter Finals (Muller)
  • 5:35 p.m. – Men’s 4x400 Meter Relay Finals

Track men post national runner-up claim, women place seventh

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – By the time the dust settled, the weekend haul for the Concordia University track and field programs included one Outstanding Performer of the Meet (Lucas Wiechman), three individual national titles, three national runner ups, 14 total All-America performances and team finishes of second on the men’s side and seventh on the women’s side. The Bulldog men combined for 57 total points while the women compiled 31 points at the 2017 Indoor Track & Field National Championships, which took place over three days in Johnson City, Tenn.

First-year head coach Matt Beisel’s squad beat out all of their GPAC rivals in the national race. The men have now turned in top-five finishes at five national championship meets in a row. That string includes a national title (2015 outdoor) and two runner-up claims.

“Our athletes are not defined by their seed marks,” Beisel said. “We had a lot of guys and girls step up and perform beyond their current bests and it made a big difference. I’m so super proud of them for just putting everything out there. It was just awesome watching them. They fought hard in every event.”

For the fourth time in his distinguished career, Zach Lurz is a national champion. The 14-time All-American has now won three indoor shot put national titles in a row. On Saturday, he produced a season best toss of 58’ 6 ¾.” He entered the meet tied atop the national list after capturing the GPAC championship in the event. He totaled 16 points all by himself after factoring in his third-place weight throw (personal best) finish from Friday.

Wiechman has literally done it all during his senior indoor season. He won three GPAC individual titles and then followed it up with a national championship in the heptathlon this weekend. That’s not all. The native of Pilger, Neb., collected All-America awards in the pole vault (third, 16’ 1 ¾”) and the 60 meter hurdles (fifth, 8.24). To close the weekend, he ran the leadoff leg for the 4x400 meter relay that galloped to a season best of 3:16.79 in the finals.

In the individual events, Wiechman racked up 20 points, allowing him to secure NAIA Indoor Track & Field Male Most Outstanding Performer honors. He earned the same award at the GPAC indoor championships.

“Coach (Mark) Samuels has more than adequately prepared him, starting this fall,” Biesel said. “I think that’s one of the big secrets to Lucas’ success. His year round training program really produces the combination of speed and endurance he needs to get through most events.”

The 4x4 was anchored by Muller, who is in the midst of a stellar senior year on the track. He is now a three-time All-American in the 600 meters. He clocked in at 1:19.26 in the finals, putting him second for his highest ever finish at the national championships. That time was also a personal best that puts him No. 2 on the school’s all-time list (behind only Nick Suing, 1:17.93).

The women’s shot put turned out to be Concordia’s most fruitful event of the weekend, in terms of number of All-Americans. In the event, freshman Adranna Shaw placed runner up (47’ 1”), senior Samantha Liermann finished fifth (46’ 4”) and senior Kali Robb took eighth (44’ 5 ¼”). Robb was also the national runner up in the weight throw that was contested on Friday.

Also on Friday, Cody Boellstorff defended his national championship in the weight throw. Other not previously mentioned All-Americans were Allie Brooks (pole vault) and Sydney Meyer (weight thow). The Bulldogs traveled a total of 19 athletes to Johnson City.

In sum, Concordia throwers produced two national titles, a runner-up finish, eight All-America awards and 41 team points.

“When Zach Lurz gets on the big stage, he steps up and competes,” Biesel said. “He’s done that the past few years.”

Beisel’s teams will begin the outdoor season March 24-25 at the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College. Concordia is coming off a national title on the women’s side and a runner-up finish on the men’s side at the 2016 NAIA outdoor championships.

After winning a men’s outdoor national title in 2015 and women’s outdoor national title in 2016, the program has created an atmosphere of high expectation. “It’s a real credit to the coaching and the team togetherness. They feed off each other. We have some really good seniors who over the last several years. This program has been blessed with great kids who can and do the job.”

All-Americans

  • Men’s 4x400 Meter Relay (6th): Wiechman, Rodgers, Matters, Muller
  • Cody Boellstorff: weight throw (1st)
  • Allie Brooks: pole vault (3rd)
  • Samantha Liermann: shot put (5th)
  • Zach Lurz: shot put (1st); weight throw (3rd)
  • Sydney Meyer: weight throw (5th)
  • CJ Muller: 600 meters (2nd)
  • Kali Robb: weight throw (2nd); shot put (8th)
  • Adrianna Shaw: shot put (2nd)
  • Lucas Wiechman: heptathlon (1st); pole vault (3rd); 60 meter hurdles (5th)

Season preview: 2017 outdoor track and field

At a glance

MEN
Head coach: Matt Beisel (1st year)
2016 indoor finishes: 3rd (GPAC); 3rd (NAIA)
2016 outdoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 2nd (NAIA)
2017 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 2nd (NAIA)
2017 indoor All-Americans: 4x400 Meter Relay (Wiechman, Rodgers, Matters, Muller); Cody Boellstorff (*weight throw); Zach Lurz (*shot put, weight throw); CJ Muller (600 meters); Lucas Wiechman (*heptathlon, pole vault, 60 meter hurdles, hurdles).
2016 All-Americans returning: Cody Boellstorff (*weight throw); Philip Kreutzer (hammer, weight throw); Zach Lurz (**shot put, hammer, discus, weight throw); Nathan Matters (4x400m); CJ Muller (600m; 4x400m); Lucas Wiechman (decathlon, heptathlon, pole vault).
2016 All-Americans lost: Trey Barnes (shot put); Trevor Bresson (4x400m); Jose Rojas (hammer, shot put-2); Josh Slechta (hammer, discus, weight throw); Jaap Van Gaalen (4x400m).
*National champion

WOMEN
Head coach: Matt Beisel (1st year)
2016 indoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 5th (NAIA)
2016 outdoor finishes: 2nd (GPAC); 1st (NAIA)
2017 indoor finishes: 4th (GPAC); 7th (NAIA)
2017 indoor All-Americans: Allie Brooks (pole vault); Samantha Liermann (shot put); Sydney Meyer (weight throw); Kali Robb (weight throw, shot put); Adrianna Shaw (shot put).
2016 All-Americans returning: McKenzie Gravo (pole vault-2); Samantha Liermann (shot put-2); Kali Robb (hammer, discus, weight throw, shot put-2); Tricia Svoboda (discus).
2016 All-Americans lost: Kattie Cleveland (hammer, discus, weight throw); Stephanie Coley (discus, shot put-2, weight throw); Liz King (*hammer, javelin, weight throw); Kim Wood (1 mile, 1,000m, 800m).
*National champion

Season Outlook
The Concordia University track and field programs have made a seamless transition while adjusting to head coach Matt Beisel, who is in his first year leading the Bulldog cross country and track teams. Thanks in large part to three individual national titles and an incredible weekend for senior Lucas Wiechman, the Bulldog men’s squad has now made it five-straight national meets with top-five finishes.

During that time, the men have turned in national placements of fifth, first, third, second and second, respectively. The women haven’t fared so bad either over that time frame that dates back to the 2015 NAIA indoor championships. They have turned in finishes of 11th, fifth, fifth, first and seventh.

“Any time we end up top 10 at nationals for either girls or guys and outperform projections, I’m really pleased,” Beisel said. “Lucas Wiechman getting athlete of the meet for both conference and nationals was icing on the cake. At the national level because of so many teams involved and so many circumstances, simply to make the top 10 at nationals is a big deal. I’m already excited to do what we’re going to do outdoors, but you can’t count on anything. We take care of business one day at a time and one kid at a time – and we pray a lot.”

This is it now for a senior class that has been a major factor in the unprecedented run of success at the national level. That group includes not just Wiechman, a 10-time All-American, but also fellow national champions in Cody Boellstorff and Zach Lurz (14 career All-America plaques). Boellstorff is a two-time national champ in the weight throw and a one-time titlist in the hammer throw. All four of Lurz’s national championships have come in the shot put. He will attempt to do the same thing he did in 2016 – sweep indoor and outdoor shot put titles.

Those three have been so good throughout their careers, that they have sometimes overshadowed seniors CJ Muller (seven-time All-American) and Kali Robb (nine-time All-American), both major players on Concordia’s recent national championship teams. Muller placed as the national runner up in the 600 meters at this past indoor national meet and has been a regular on All-America 4x400 meter relays. Robb has been a GPAC titlist and a national runner up on multiple occasions. Perhaps her last go-round will produce her first career national title.

No matter what, Beisel is at peace knowing he has a star-studded group that knows how to handle whatever is thrown at it.

“I think what made them so good at indoor nationals is this calm ability to process what they need to do and get it done,” Beisel said. “That’s something that you find in seasoned returning athletes who have been on the big stage before. They know exactly what they need to do and I don’t sense an urgency. They trust the timeline we have for training and competition. With seven weeks until conference and nine weeks until outdoor nationals, they’re ready to go one piece at a time and see what unfolds. I think we’ll have some big national qualifying marks at our first outdoor meet.”

In recent seasons, the Bulldogs have been even better outdoors compared to indoors. Both national championships over the past two years have been celebrated in Gulf Shores, Ala., site of the NAIA outdoor national meet. It’s a place where Concordia throwers, tutored by Ed McLaughlin, have gained a reputation as the best in the nation.

Outdoor track is favorable to the Bulldogs in part because it brings additional throwing events to the table: the javelin and the discus while replacing the weight throw with the hammer throw. This year’s group of long tossers also includes past All-Americans Philip Kreutzer, Samantha Liermann, Sydney Meyer and Adrianna Shaw. Also in the mix this outdoor season is Leah Mussell, who specializes in the discus. The biggest loss from 2016 is Liz King, who won last year’s hammer throw national title and was the runner up in the javelin.

The women’s team could make up some of those points in the pole vault. Assistant coach Jason Berry’s crew includes two national championship contenders in Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo. Brooks won the indoor GPAC pole vault title, broke the school record and placed third at nationals. Gravo, who sat out this indoor season to save eligibility for future years, claimed 2016 indoor and outdoor conference pole vault championships and was also an All-American. Brooks and Gravo will likely battle each other for school records, conference titles and other accolades for years to come.

It’s obvious that Concordia has the top-of-the-line athletes that make it the envy of many other NAIA track programs. Beisel also wants to focus on building depth, which is essential for making runs at conference titles. The Bulldog men came up agonizingly short of a 2017 GPAC indoor title, but could make another strong push this outdoor season. Beisel likes what his team has coming along in outdoor-exclusive events like the steeplechase, the 400 meter hurdles and the 10,000 meters.

Continued development of athletes other than the vaunted seniors will make this program even more dangerous. Six Bulldogs took their first career trips to nationals this March, including juniors Ben Hulett and Jake Rodgers, sophomores Scott Johnson, Ryan Olson and Johanna Ragland and Shaw, already a top-tier shot put thrower as a rookie.

Not mentioned are the many other Concordia athletes who earned all-conference honors during this past indoor season. To be exact, 45 different Bulldogs collected All-GPAC accolades in one or more events courtesy of their performances at the conference indoor meet.

Beisel hopes that momentum will translate to the outdoor season, which is set to open up this weekend at the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College. Due to impending weather, the meet has been moved to a Saturday-Sunday event. The adjusted schedule can be viewed HERE.

“You always hope that momentum does carry over and that even the people who didn’t compete at nationals will catch some of that team pride and spirit,” Beisel said. “Hopefully they’ll want to be part of that and be motivated to train harder and smarter so they can perform even better. We have a number of events in outdoor that we’re good at that we are unable to do indoors.”

Robb, Wiechman grab national awards; Boellstorff honored by GPAC

NAIA release: MW | GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Three of Concordia’s national event leaders garnered weekly awards, as announced on Wednesday (April 12). Senior Lucas Wiechman raked in both the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week award and the NAIA National Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week accolade. On the women’s side, senior Kali Robb was tabbed NAIA National Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week. Meanwhile, senior Cody Boellstorff picked up the GPAC Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week honor.

In sum, head coach Matt Beisel’s squad have combined for 14 GPAC weekly awards and six national weekly honors throughout the 2017 indoor and outdoor seasons. This marks the first career national weekly accolade for Wiechman. Robb has collected women’s field national recognition for the second week in a row.

A native of Pilger, Neb., Wiechman has now collected four GPAC weekly awards as a senior. The accomplished star produced a national title in the heptathlon this past indoor season. His latest honor comes courtesy of his efforts at last week’s Concordia Outdoor Invitational, where he won event titles with personal bests in the 110 and 400 meter hurdles and in the pole vault. His mark of 16’ 7 ¼” ranks in a tie for No. 1 on the national leaderboard. He also ranks third in the 110 meter hurdles (14.43) and fourth in the 400 meter hurdles (54.17).

Robb owns not just one, but two marks that lead the nation. At last week’s meet, she equaled Jamie Crouse’s school record in the hammer throw (190’ 5”) and also produced a season best in the shot put (48’ ¾”). Both of those marks top the NAIA national lists. In addition, Robb is a national qualifier in the discus. This past indoor season, Robb won the GPAC shot put title and is a nine-time All-American in her career.

Boellstorff is primed to make another run at an individual national title. The Waverly, Neb., native broke former teammate Josh Slechta’s school record in the hammer throw with a toss of 211’ 9” at the Concordia Invite. That mark leads the nation by more than five feet, putting him ahead of teammate Zach Lurz (206’ 6”). Boellstorff won the 2015 hammer throw national title and also owns two national championships in the weight throw.

Boellstorff, Robb and Wiechman and the rest of the Bulldogs are scheduled to return to action on Friday when they will be at the Grand View University Quad in Des Moines, Iowa.

2017 Concordia track & field GPAC athletes of the week
April 12 – Cody Boellstorff (field); *Kali Robb (field); *Lucas Wiechman (track)
April 5 – *Zach Lurz (field); *Kali Robb (field)
March 29 – Cody Boellstorff (field); Allie Brooks (field)
Feb. 15 – Kali Robb (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Feb. 8 – *Allie Brooks (field); CJ Muller (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 25 – *Cody Boellstorff (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 18 – CJ Muller (track)
*NAIA National Athlete of the Week

Bulldogs sweep team titles at NAIA Midwest Quad

DES MOINES, Iowa – For the first time this outdoor season, the Concordia University track and field squads participated in a meet that scored out team points. While competing at the NAIA Midwest Quad hosted by Grand View University (Iowa) on a rainy and damp Friday, the Bulldogs swept team titles. Ranked second in the NAIA, the Concordia women piled up 209 points. Meanwhile, the third-ranked men accumulated 202.5 points.

Senior Cody Boellstorff accounted for 21 points himself as part of another record-breaking performance. The native of Waverly, Neb., added nearly five feet to his own school standard in the hammer throw with his toss of 216’ 6” – a national best mark by exactly 10 feet.

The field of teams in the quad included Baker University (Kan.) (ranked 18th on the men’s side), Grand View and St. Ambrose University (Iowa). St. Ambrose, a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, placed second on both sides. Only the top two individuals per team per event were scored.

“We had about half of the personal bests that we had last week at our home meet,” said head coach Matt Beisel. “Our home meet was a huge mountaintop for our kids and it's hard to duplicate that level of emotion and energy two weeks in a row. The weather was a factor too. Though it was a scored meet, we did not do anything differently.”

Boellstorff was one of four throwers to improve their already existing national qualifying marks on Friday. The others were Philip Kreutzer (hammer, 185’ 11”), Samantha Liermann (shot put, 46’ 8 ¾”) and Tricia Svoboda (hammer, 170’ 7”). Liermann won an event title for a women’s shot put group that held down the top five place finishes. Headed by winner Zach Lurz, the Bulldogs also took three of the top four finishes in the men’s shot put. In the men’s hammer, Boellstorff and company went 1-2-3. Concordia throwers totaled five event champions, including Mariah Huneke (javelin) and Sydney Meyer (hammer).

Collectively, Bulldog athletes produced 11 event titles. In the pole vault, sophomore Allie Brooks continued her winning ways, jumping 12’ 1 ½.” The other not previously mentioned titlist in the field events was Sophia Hoelz in the high jump. On the track, both the men’s and women’s 4x800 meter relays came out on top while Jacy Johnston and Taylor Mueller were victorious in the 3,000 meter steeplechase races.

Nearly all of Concordia’s headlining performers were in action. Senior CJ Muller teamed up on the winning 4x8 and finished as a runner up in the 400 meter dash (49.12). Jack-of-all-trades Lucas Wiechman placed second in the 110 meter hurdles (14.82), fourth in the long jump and also ran legs for the 4x100 meter relay (second) and the 4x400 meter relay (fourth).

There were additional highlights on Friday. On the women’s side, notable personal bests were achieved by Huneke (javelin), Leah Larson (triple jump), Leah Mussell (javelin), Bethany Shaw (discus) Svoboda (hammer) and Quinn Wragge (400 meters). On the men’s side, noteworthy new personal records were set by Evan Asche (5,000 meters), Boellstorff, Nathan Elbert (javelin), Phil Grothaus (javelin), Chris Mosely-Hendricks (100 meters) and Mueller (steeplechase).

As of Saturday, the Bulldogs continued to boast NAIA leading marks courtesy of Boellstorff (hammer), Lurz (shot put), Kali Robb (hammer and shot put) and Wiechman (pole vault).

The outdoor season carries on with the Jim Dutcher Memorial hosted by Doane next Friday and Saturday (April 21-22). The tentative event schedule can be viewed HERE.

NAIA hammer leader Boellstorff takes GPAC, national awards

GPAC release | NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Massive hammer throws have become the norm for senior Cody Boellstorff, a 2015 national champion in the event. After another personal best, Boellstorff has been tabbed both the NAIA National Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week and the GPAC Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week, as announced on Wednesday (April 19). It’s the fourth time Boellstorff has garnered a GPAC weekly honor in 2017. He’s also snagged a pair of national weekly awards.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s squad have combined for 15 GPAC weekly awards and seven national weekly accolades throughout the 2017 indoor and outdoor seasons.

A native of Waverly, Neb., Boellstorff added nearly five feet to his PR in the hammer, registering a mark of 216’ 6” at the NAIA Midwest Quad hosted by Grand View University (Iowa) on April 14. That mark leads the nation by exactly 10 feet (teammate Zach Lurz is second with a measurement of 206’ 6”). Boellstorff captured both GPAC and NAIA national hammer throw titles in 2015. He’s also a time-two national champ in the weight throw.

Boellstorff will compete at this week’s Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan., on Thursday. The bulk of the team will be in action at this weekend’s Jim Dutcher Memorial hosted by Doane. The Dutcher Memorial schedule can be viewed HERE.

2017 Concordia track & field GPAC athletes of the week
April 19 – *Cody Boellstorff (field)
April 12 – Cody Boellstorff (field); *Kali Robb (field); *Lucas Wiechman (track)
April 5 – *Zach Lurz (field); *Kali Robb (field)
March 29 – Cody Boellstorff (field); Allie Brooks (field)
Feb. 15 – Kali Robb (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Feb. 8 – *Allie Brooks (field); CJ Muller (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 25 – *Cody Boellstorff (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 18 – CJ Muller (track)
*NAIA National Athlete of the Week

Top of the class: the national surge

A series of circumstances and variables, some foreseen and some completely out of anyone’s control, can make and break national championship bids. In the case of Concordia University track and field, the ultimate prize can come down to the very last heart thumping race.

For Concordia, ending a school wide team national championship drought that carried on until May 2015 took the collaboration of a special group of people. It’s this year’s senior class that really took the lead.

Make no mistake, we’re not glossing over last year’s senior group, which included two-time national champion Liz King, another national titlist in Josh Slechta and other especially noteworthy All-Americans such as Kattie Cleveland, Stephanie Coley, Kim Wood and Jose Rojas. Talk to any of the current upperclassmen female throwers and one thing is clear, they all looked up to King, someone who oozed personality and competitive fire.

Even without those standouts, the good times continue for programs now headed by Matt Beisel, who took over the helm from 24-year head coach Kregg Einspahr. Both Bulldog teams are ranked third nationally in the most recent USTFCCCA national rankings. It’s not unfamiliar territory whatsoever.

The national finishes during the careers of the current seniors are staggering. The men’s indoor finishes: 17th in 2014, fifth in 2013, third in 2016 and second in 2017. The men’s outdoor finishes: 11th in 2014, national champs in 2015 and runner up in 2016. Now for the women. Indoor since 2014: 11th, 11th, fifth and seventh. And outdoor since 2014: ninth, fifth and national champs.

It’s the golden age of the program, but how did they do it? Says senior Tricia Svoboda of her early collegiate days, “It was definitely right on the brink of something bigger. We had so much potential that was building. You could tell at practice because we had a group of people that was really driven.”

No one knows better than the seniors, so we asked them for insight. The impressive collection of student athletes that helped us detail the national surge are Cody Boellstorff, Zach Lurz, CJ Muller, Kali Robb, Svoboda and Lucas Wiechman. The Senior Six has combined individually for eight national titles and 47 All-America awards. Three of The Senior Six have been national champions and the other three have all claimed national runner-up finishes at least once.

This is the story of a national uprising, as told by The Senior Six.

Cody Boellstorff

You would never know it now, but Boellstorff arrived at Concordia having never before competed in the hammer or weight throw. His first experiences with the hammer were troubling to the point of embarrassment.

Says Boellstorff, “There was a lot of frustration, especially from (throws coach) Ed (McLaughlin). He still brings it up to this day, the Wesleyan meet my freshman year when I couldn’t get my turns right. He actually had to stand just outside the ring and count them out loud to me while I was turning. It wasn’t my proudest moment.”

But McLaughlin wasn’t about to give up on Boellstorff, a 6-foot-5 physically gifted athlete with the raw ability that made dreams possible. As Boellstorff says, “I was obsessed with working out.” The native of Waverly, Neb., caught on as quickly as McLaughlin could have hoped. Boellstorff had been a high school state runner up in the shot put, but mastering the hammer was like learning to walk again.

Pretty soon the breakthroughs came. He qualified for nationals in the hammer as a freshman in 2013. Then at the national championships, he snuck into All-America territory with an eighth-place finish. “As a freshman, I thought that was a pretty big deal just to qualify for nationals,” Boellstorff said. As a team, Concordia placed in a tie for 42nd, which would seem like a colossal disappointment by today’s standards.

Bigger and better was just around the corner for both Boellstorff and the program. But how much bigger and how much better? Team national title talk? Crazy talk. Says Boellstorff, “Honestly I didn’t know it was even going to be possible when I got here. Sure, a top-five finish. When you looked at our team you were like, ‘Yeah, we could do that.’ But to actually win it? I didn’t think anybody had any idea until it came down to that one race.”

It came down to more than just that one race in 2015 when Boellstorff and his teammates celebrated the NAIA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championship, marking the first team title for any sport in school history. It was in part the byproduct of years of developing the nation’s top throwing program. As Lurz puts it, “We take kids who aren’t exactly DI athletes, but we turn them into DI athletes. We have kids like Cody who have never touched the hammer before and, inside of five years, he’s a 220-foot hammer thrower. That’s unheard of.”

In 2017, Boellstorff is a known commodity with three career national titles to his credit – two in the weight throw and one in the hammer. He enters the stretch run of the outdoor season leading the nation in the hammer, an event in which he owns the school record.

Boellstorff is essentially a poster boy for the program’s rise. As he took off, so too did the Bulldogs.

Zach Lurz

When Zach Lurz packs up his things and moves on from college, he’ll need to rent a U-Haul – and that’s just to carry all of the awards he’s won. He’s a four-time national champion and a 14-time All-American. He’s earned NAIA national championships performer of the meet and NAIA national field athlete of the year awards during a career that ranks up there with some of the best ever at Concordia.

A native of Chadron, Neb., who bounced around a bit as a child, Lurz came to Concordia to throw and play football, but mostly to throw. He gave up football after one year because, “I wanted to be good at something.” Lurz had already been fairly well schooled in the mechanics of throwing. He says the biggest key to his collegiate success was adding strength.

By the time he was a redshirt sophomore, Lurz was a GPAC champion, a national champion and a member of a team national champion. He’s never been at a national championship meet in which his team failed to place inside at least the top 20. It’s simply been one success after another.

He was there at the beginning of the golden age and he believes it started with Jamie Crouse, an All-American, conference champion and shareholder of the women’s school record in the hammer throw.

“When I really saw it progressing was with Jamie and she started to take off,” Lurz said. “Everybody started to follow suit. You could see it early on in my career when one person would have a PR a lot of people would at the same time. Everybody fed off each other and we continued to push and push. I’ve watched all of the throwing records fall except women’s discus and men’s javelin and all of them have been really close. Being able to watch that has been really awesome.”

A high school state champion in the shot put and runner up in the discus, Lurz first was contacted by McLaughlin about the possibility of attending Concordia on a track scholarship. A graduate of Torrington High School in Wyoming, Lurz was a well-rounded athlete who not only threw, but played baseball and football and wrestled in high school.

Though he visited Concordia during spring break when the campus was mostly empty, Lurz found it to his liking. It’s worked both ways. Lurz has brought prestige to the program while cultivating his own skills and talents through the tutelage of McLaughlin, who took in nearly every major NAIA national assistant coaching award in 2016.

The Herculean Lurz has been at the forefront of the golden age as the most decorated of The Senior Six. He’s taken full advantage of the opportunity at Concordia. Explains Lurz, “You see the big throwers that have the body types to succeed. We have to put in hours and hours of training on top of everything in order to be at the level we have been performing at. Kids here are given the tools here to be successful and they use them extensively.”

CJ Muller

The program has complimented its stable of throwers with stellar athletes like CJ Muller, a 600 meter extraordinaire, who galloped to the finish line as the last leg of the 4x400 meter relay that clinched the 2015 team national title. For just that fact alone, Muller reserves a spot in the history of the program’s lore. There’s more to it. He’s a seven-time All-American and was a national runner up in the 600 at the 2017 indoor championships.

Like Boellstorff and Lurz, Muller is part of the elite category that arrived ahead of all of the glitzy trophies that now line the glass cases and the front desk inside the friendly confines of the Walz Human Performance Complex. That state-of-the-art complex, completed in 2009, is one of the things that drew Muller in after a high school career at Millard West in Omaha.

The facility upgrades should not be discounted when examining the fate of an athletic program. Says Muller, “Our facilities are unbelievable. Besides Devaney which is Division I, I’d say we’ve got the top indoor track in Nebraska and possibly top three in the Midwest, especially for 200-meter sized tracks. It’s not just the indoor track. You have the stadium, the weight room and the training room. You get that big college feel, yet we’re still at a school of 1,300 kids. When you’re given the tools that are top notch, you get to train top notch and become a top notch athlete as well.”

Muller visited Concordia during the recruiting process and felt a connection with the likes of Einspahr, McLaughlin and Mark Samuels. As a freshman, Muller admired the seniors, who at that time helped him discover what it took to compete at a higher level.

Clearly Muller kept good notes. His training has made him a valuable point scorer in everything from the sprints to the middle distances to the relays. He teamed up on the school record setting 4x4 at the 2015 outdoor national championships and is a two-time conference champion in the 600 meters. He shined as a key piece in three GPAC team track titles that have come in addition to the national success.

For Muller, the right attitude has fueled him to become the most visible men’s track athlete of Concordia’s golden age.

“Coming from high school to college is a mindset thing,” Muller said. “We wanted to be here and we enjoy track and what we do. If you don’t enjoy coming to practice and putting in the work, it’s tough. We all stuck it out four years. It’s helped us build that foundation. We’ve put in the work and we see the results, which makes us want to try even harder. When everything accumulates and works out, it’s just a great feeling.”

The accumulations were obvious as Muller and Wiechman, struggling to handle all of their award plaques, posed at the 2017 indoor national championships.

Kali Robb

With the graduation of Liz King, Kali Robb became the new ringleader on the women’s side. She made her way to Bulldog country after a high school career at Sidney that she described, saying “it wasn’t really great success.” In her mind, she did just enough to warrant a spot on a collegiate track and field team. At one time, she had also hoped to play volleyball at Concordia, but it wasn’t in the cards.

Coming from all the way out in western Nebraska, Robb had found her new home. The culture just seemed like a fit. Said Robb, “I think it was more the school. I came down here for a visit and I loved the environment. I loved the interaction that Ed had with all of his athletes and the connection we had. Same thing with Coach Einspahr. We had a great connection when we first met. The atmosphere down here was something I really liked and wanted to be part of.”

Robb is another example how Bulldog throwers improve rapidly over their college careers. She was a national qualifier as a freshman in 2014, but not an All-American. Since then, she’s claimed nine All-America awards and three GPAC titles. She’s still looking for her first national title after another second-place finish (weight throw) this past indoor season.

Even amongst a long line of big-time throwers, Robb stands out. She’s the current national leader in the hammer and the shot put. She’s coming off three All-America claims at the 2016 outdoor national championships, where she was a key figure in the team national title run.

It’s hard to even put into perspective just how much she and the rest of her throwing teammates have attained in recent years. Says Robb, “I guess I don’t have the words because it’s hard to describe how amazing it is to be part of a national championship team and the first national championship team. We have a great group of kids who know what they’re doing and can push themselves and each other to the next level. I really don’t know how to describe it. It’s amazing.”

Robb is able to pinpoint one essential factor in the team’s success: coaching. So what are the things that make McLaughlin such an effective throws coach?

“He’s persistent,” Robb said. “He makes sure that we do understand what he’s talking about and do the things he wants to get us to be better and take the next step. He makes sure that we understand this level before we get to that next level, even if it’s just a little tweak here or there. He makes sure that we have it down with repetition and practice. He encourages us to push ourselves further and further.”

It's not hard to figure out what the next level could be for Robb in late May. No matter what happens, she’ll be remembered as one of the great Bulldog throwers and a key ingredient in the first Concordia women’s team national title in school history.

Tricia Svoboda

Everyone has a recruiting story. Says Tricia Svoboda, “I didn’t even really know Concordia was on the map and I lived less than two hours away. Ed came to one of my district track meets. He was a great guy. I checked out the campus. I loved the location, the size and the atmosphere. I thought it would be a good fit for me.”

Svoboda has specialized in outdoor events like the discus and javelin during her career as a Bulldog. Her two career All-America awards pale in comparison to what Robb has compiled, but Svoboda provides Concordia with another national challenger and yet another story of a Bulldog reaching full potential as a senior. She placed as the national runner up in the discus while supplying eight crucial points towards the 2016 team national title. Now she’s primed for another big performance while currently ranked second, just behind the leader, in the discus.

A native of Norfolk, Neb., Svoboda didn’t find everything to be so easy from the beginning. Says Svoboda, “Starting out it was grueling. I was practicing really hard all the time. There was way more tech work. After you get to a certain level you still do the tech work, but it’s different. You put in a lot more time when you’re younger to get everything figured out. As you progress, the technical aspect drops back a little. You still have to balance your time.”

Under the tutelage of McLaughlin, Svoboda has made gains every year. She even qualified for the indoor national championships this past March. That’s another big feat for someone who admits that indoor is not quite her cup of tea.

Not only did Svoboda have McLaughlin for advice, but she also had King. “I always looked up to Liz King,” Svoboda said. “She was always there. She had a great attitude in practice and made everyone chuckle. She was always so helpful in javelin because she had thrown it for so long and no one else really had. It was almost like we had two coaches there with her and Ed. It was always King for me because she had that attitude that made you want to do better.”

In the building of champions, the abundance of superior attitudes, teammates and work ethics has made all the difference. So too has the everyday competition between elite athletes going head-to-head in practice. Those are things Svoboda will miss. “I will cherish all four years here,” Svoboda said.

Lucas Wiechman

Ask Lucas Wiechman what his high school career was like and he’ll tell you it was pretty average. Again, there’s the constant theme that centers upon the transformation and development of elite athletes who did not necessarily think of themselves that way when they first stepped foot in Seward.

Wiechman is another unique case study, who, as a freshman, stood in awe of anyone who could eclipse 16 feet in the pole vault. Little did he know that such a height would be well within his reach by the middle of his collegiate career. Wiechman is the headliner for a well-regarded pole vault program nurtured by assistant Jason Berry. Wiechman is all that and a lot more.

Considering his exploits in multiple events, Wiechman has to be in the discussion as one of the NAIA’s greatest athletes. At the 2017 GPAC indoor championships, Wiechman captured conference titles in three individual events and earned performer of the meet honors. He then garnered the same distinction at the indoor national championships.

Early on, the native of Wisner, Neb., got a lesson on what it might take to eventually ascend to the heights he’s now reached. Says Wiechman, “Coming on campus we do the fall track thing. The first two weeks is on our own led by the seniors. It was kind of nice during that time. I just felt welcomed and everything as a freshman. It’s a chance to come together as a team. Probably sophomore year during indoor I think we got fifth as a team. That was kind of the turning point in my mind that we were only going to go up from there.”

Who did Wiechman take after? He mentions impactful alums Jonathon Becker, John Cartier, Carson Farr and Ben Hinckfoot as teammates that left an impression upon him. Each of them were All-Americans before Wiechman even realized his own potential.

Nine All-America awards, a heptathlon national title and a team national championship later, Wiechman has accomplished things many simply dream about. Admits Wiechman, “It’s pretty cool walking through the Fieldhouse and seeing the two banners that say national championship team.”

Still, the levelheaded Wiechman makes a point of representing Concordia in a Christ-like manner. He feels respect from people like meet officials – and he gives it right back. Says Wiechman, “I notice the respect Concordia has more with the meet officials. They’ll see our jersey and say hi. We’re good people, I guess. They see so many of us and see that we’re towards the top so there’s a little bit more respect. It goes both ways. We respect the meet officials and they respect us.”

It's a respect that has been hard earned through years of positive action. Wiechman stands as one of the pillars of the program. If one wants to see what persistent effort gets you, look no further than Wiechman.

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Wiechman sums up Concordia’s national success quite simply. “We have people that place first, second and third at nationals,” Wiechman said. “That’s what it takes to win.”

That winning formula is derived from elite athletes like The Senior Six. They learned from the foundation that was built by tremendous coaches and the athletes that came before them. They then set about blowing the top off all reasonable expectations.

There’s been some good fortune, coaching and hard work. But even that doesn’t wholly explain the astounding success. Svoboda’s explanation seems as good as any: “We had some really good people together at the right time.”

Bulldogs claim eight titles at Dutcher Memorial

CRETE, Neb. – Standout throwers Cody Boellstorff and Sydney Meyer turned in fresh automatic national qualifying marks in performances that highlighted another solid weekend for Concordia University’s nationally third-ranked track and field programs. Bulldog athletes combined for eight event titles over the two-day Jim Dutcher Memorial hosted in Crete, Neb., by Doane.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads have now totaled 26 automatic national qualifying marks. They entered the weekend with five marks that ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. In this weekend’s meets alone, Concordia athletes put forth 19 performances that met the national qualifying standard.

Not only did Boellstorff qualify for nationals in the discus (162’ 1”), he also competed on Thursday at the Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan. Boellstorff won the hammer throw at the Kansas Relays by again eclipsing 200 feet, outdistancing a strong field of nearly 30 throwers. Boellstorff, the nation’s leader in the hammer, took Friday off before returning to action on Saturday.

Currently No. 2 in the nation in the pole vault, Allie Brooks had a busy weekend that included a trip to the Sioux City Relays on Friday when both she and teammate McKenzie Gravo cleared 12’ 8.” Brooks got back to the runway on Saturday and jumped 12’ 1 ½,” earning a first-place finish at Doane. For Gravo, her performance on Friday marked a significant personal best.

Meyer is the first amongst Concordia’s well-stocked stable of throwers to qualify for nationals in the javelin. She placed first at the Dutcher Memorial in a tight competition. She whirled the javelin 134’ 6,” a mark that is listed at No. 10 in the NAIA. Meyer is also the nation’s third-ranked hammer thrower.

The Dutcher Memorial provided the first opportunity this season for Bulldog multi-event athletes to compete in the decathlon and the heptathlon. Freshman Jessica Deterding piled up 4,176 points for a runner-up claim. Deterding well exceeded the minimum needed for representation on the national list, where she ranks 11th. Teammate Anna Beune tallied 3,895 points. In the decathlon, Jake Rodgers (5,944) and Thomas Matik (5,859) placed third and fourth, respectively, and have put themselves in the discussion for national championship bids.

Other event winners not previously mentioned were the women’s 4x400 meter relay, Taylor Grove (5,000 meters), Zach Lurz (hammer throw), Taylor Mueller (steeplechase), Tricia Svoboda (hammer throw) and Lucas Wiechman (110 meter hurdles). In sum, Concordia throwers combined for three of the event titles. Svoboda turned in a mark of 171’ 8” in the hammer and moved up to seventh on the national leaderboard in the event. Svoboda was a runner up at Doane in the discus (147’ 3”).

Beisel made special mention of the distance runners that included the likes of Grove and Mueller. Said Beisel, “Distance runners had a great meet overall, with almost everyone running personal or season bests.” In shorter distances on the track, CJ Muller ran both a 200 (22.48) and a 400 (49.18). In the 110 meter hurdles, Ben Hulett creeped closer to the automatic time by clocking in at 14.85. Hulett placed second in the 400 meter hurdles and third in the 110 meter hurdles.

The Drake Relays (April 27-29) are next on the docket for several star Bulldog athletes. The prestigious event takes place annually in Des Moines, Iowa, on the campus of Drake University. The GPAC championships (May 5-6) are looming in the background.

Bulldog dozen set to compete at Drake Relays

SEWARD, Neb. – A group of 12 athletes will represent Concordia University track and field this week at the prestigious Drake Relays. The annual event is hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Bulldog athletes will be competing Wednesday through Saturday. For more info on the meet, click HERE.

The list of Bulldog competitors includes the likes of four-time national champion Zach Lurz and multi-event extraordinaire Lucas Wiechman, who will display his talents in the decathlon for the first time this outdoor season. Concordia also hopes to make a push for national qualifying times in the men’s 4x400 and women’s 4x800 meter relays. In the women’s pole vault, Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo will attempt to raise the bar in Iowa’s capitol city.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads entered this week with 26 total automatic national qualifying marks. In the most recent NAIA national ratings released by the USTFCCCA, Concordia checked in at No. 3 on both sides. The Bulldogs continue to boast national leaders in the men’s shot put (Lurz), men’s hammer throw (Cody Boellstorff) and women’s hammer throw (Kali Robb). Concordia has the national runner up in five events: men’s pole vault (Wiechman), women’s pole vault (Brooks), women’s shot put (Robb), men’s discus (Lurz), women’s discus (Tricia Svoboda) and men’s hammer throw (Lurz).

The Bulldogs have become well known nationally over the past few years for throwers, but they’re making big waves in the women’s pole vault as well. Brooks and Gravo both cleared 12’ 8” at last week’s Sioux City Relays and are both ranked in the top four of the nation. Brooks and Gravo are responsible for the last three GPAC women’s pole vault titles.

Wiechman figures to be a national title contender in the decathlon after coming off a national championship in the heptathlon this past indoor season. The native of Pilger, Neb., is already qualified for nationals in the pole vault and the 110 meter hurdles.

Most members of the track and field program will be at the Prairie Wolf Invite hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan on Thursday. The meet schedule can be viewed HERE.

Bulldogs competing at Drake
-Lucas Wiechman – Decathlon (Wed-11:30am, Thurs-9:30am), 4x400m Relay CD – Leg 1 (Fri-2:24pm)
-CJ Muller – 800m UD/CD (Thur-6:05pm), 4x400m Relay CD – Leg 4 (Fri-2:24pm)
-Zach Lurz – Shot Put UD/CD (Fri-11:00am), Hammer Throw UD/CD (Sat-1:00pm)
-Marti Vlasin - 4x800m Relay CD – Leg 1(Fri-10:11am)
-Quinn Wragge - 4x800m Relay CD – Leg 2 (Fri-10:11am)
-Alayna Daberkow - 4x800m Relay CD – Leg 3 (Fri-10:11am)
-Miranda Rathjen - 4x800m Relay CD – Leg 4 (Fri-10:11am)
-Tricia Svoboda – Discus UD/CD (Fri-1:00pm)
-Jake Rodgers – 4x400m Relay CD – Leg 2 (Fri-2:24pm)
-Nathan Matters – 4x400m Relay CD – Leg 3 (Fri-2:24pm)
-Allie Brooks – Pole Vault UD/CD (Sat-10:00am)
-Mckenzie Gravo – Pole Vault UD/CD (Sat-10:00am)

Bulldogs star in Des Moines, Lincoln

LINCOLN, Neb. – It’s a big week for the top 10 nationally-ranked Concordia University track and field squads, which are in the midst of showcasing their talents on a national stage. In Thursday’s action at the prestigious Drake Relays, Lucas Wiechman completed his exploits in the decathlon with a fifth-place finish while up against a field of several NCAA Division I athletes. Meanwhile, back in Lincoln, four Bulldogs won event titles at the Prairie Wolf Outdoor Invitational hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan on Thursday.

Wiechman has all but assured himself of a spot in the decathlon national championships by totaling 6,586 points while competing on Wednesday and Thursday under cloudy skies in central Iowa. Wiechman beat out competitors from the likes of Iowa State, Kent State and Northern Iowa. Wiechman, a heptathlon national champion, has already qualified for outdoor nationals in the pole vault and 110 meter hurdles and ranks eighth nationally in the 400 meter hurdles.

A pair of fresh automatic national qualifying marks were turned in at the Prairie Wolf Invite, courtesy of both Addie Shaw (145’ 3”) and Bethany Shaw (146’ 10”) in the discus. The Shaws finished third and fourth, respectively, in the event by coming through with personal records. Event titles were claimed by three Bulldog throwers: Cody Boellstorff in the hammer (207’ 11”), Jazzy Eickhoff in the javelin (129’ 10”) and Sydney Meyer in the hammer (175’ 5”). Eickhoff’s mark represented a personal best by two-and-a-half feet.

On the track, Ben Hulett won the 110 meter hurdles in a time of 15.02, which is 0.17 seconds off his personal best (‘B’ standard qualifying mark). In the 800 meters, Josiah McAllister shaved more than four seconds off his personal best by clocking in at 1:55.04 for a runner-up finish at the Prairie Wolf Invite. On the blue oval in Des Moines, CJ Muller ran a 1:54.16, which fell short of his national qualifying time of 1:51.40.

Among other highlights, Casey Eberth vaulted 10’ 2” for a PR. Additional personal bests were turned in at Nebraska Wesleyan by Philip Kreutzer in the hammer (188’ 7”), Amy Migl in the hammer (129’ 4”) and Tristen Mosier in the pole vault (11’ 1 ¾”).

Also at Drake, the Concordia women’s 4x800 meter relay finished eighth out of 18 competitors with a time of 9:28.65. The relay was made up of Marti Vlasin, Quinn Wragge, Alayna Daberkow and Miranda Rathjen. In the men’s 4x4, the quartet of Wiechman, Jake Rodgers, Nathan Matters and CJ Muller registered in at 3:19.29 for 16th place. Elsewhere at Drake, Tricia Svoboda threw 131’ 10” in the discus.

The Drake Relays will continue on Saturday. Lurz will compete in the hammer throw and both Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo will both take part in the pole vault in Des Moines. Live results can be viewed HERE.

Brooks again breaks record in final day of Drake Relays

DES MONES, Iowa – A group of 12 Bulldogs competed throughout the week at the annual Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. Sophomore Allie Brooks, who again rewrote her own record, turned in the highlight performance of the meet while in action on Saturday. It was the final day of competition before the top 10 nationally ranked Concordia University track and field squads set their sights on the GPAC championships.

Brooks is one of the top female collegiate vaulters in the nation, regardless of level. She beat out numerous NCAA Division I competitors on her way to a seventh place finish at Drake. Her new outdoor school record now stands at 12’ 9 ½.” She has maintained a No. 2 ranking on the NAIA national list. Not far behind is teammate McKenzie Gravo, who is No. 4 (12’ 8”). Gravo also competed at Drake.

Another particularly noteworthy effort was turned in at the Drake Relays by senior Lucas Wiechman. He finished fifth in the decathlon by totaling 6,586 points in his first attempt at the event this outdoor season. That figure places him at No. 4 on the national list. Wiechman is also an automatic national qualifier in the pole vault and the 110 meter hurdles. Additionally, he ranks ninth in the nation in the 400 hurdles.

The GPAC outdoor championships will be hosted by Midland next Friday and Saturday (May 5-6). More information on the championship meet can be found HERE.

Drake Relays performance results in GPAC honor for Brooks

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Records and awards are beginning to pile up for sophomore Allie Brooks. Another reset of her own school standard at the Drake Relays led to Brooks being named the GPAC Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week on Wednesday. It is the third conference weekly honor that Brooks has earned in 2017.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s squad have combined for 16 GPAC weekly awards and seven national weekly accolades throughout the 2017 indoor and outdoor seasons.

Brooks, a Seward High School alum, has blossomed in her sophomore season that has included an indoor GPAC championship, an All-America award and three school records. Her latest achievement was vaulting 12’ 9 ½” at the Drake Relays for a seventh-place finish while up against a field of many NCAA Division I competitors. Brooks is currently ranked second on the NAIA national list in the pole vault.

Brooks and her teammates are prepping for the GPAC outdoor championships, set to get underway Friday in Fremont, Neb., where they will be hosted by Midland. The complete schedule can be viewed HERE.

2017 Concordia track & field GPAC athletes of the week
May 3 – Allie Brooks (field)
April 19 – *Cody Boellstorff (field)
April 12 – Cody Boellstorff (field); *Kali Robb (field); *Lucas Wiechman (track)
April 5 – *Zach Lurz (field); *Kali Robb (field)
March 29 – Cody Boellstorff (field); Allie Brooks (field)
Feb. 15 – Kali Robb (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Feb. 8 – *Allie Brooks (field); CJ Muller (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 25 – *Cody Boellstorff (field); Lucas Wiechman (track)
Jan. 18 – CJ Muller (track)
*NAIA National Athlete of the Week

GPAC track time

GPAC outdoor championships info

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s GPAC week for the top 10 nationally-ranked Concordia University track and field squads. After indoor conference placements of second (men) and fourth (women), the Bulldogs have their sights set on moving up the ladder. Both Bulldog teams were runner-up finishers at the 2016 outdoor championships hosted by Hastings.

In case anyone hadn’t noticed, outdoor is kind of Concordia’s thing. The men’s program claimed 2014 and 2015 GPAC outdoor championships and went on to win the national title in 2015. Meanwhile, the women took the NAIA championship banner a year ago in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s teams have the firepower to again accomplish special things this May. Concordia’s returning GPAC champions from the 2016 conference outdoor meet are McKenzie Gravo (pole vault), Kali Robb (shot put) and Lucas Wiechman (decathlon and 110 meter hurdles). Entering the meet, the Bulldogs are leading the GPAC in total of 10 events (men and women combined).

In the women’s pole vault, assistant coach Jason Berry’s athletes have been responsible for six GPAC titles in a row. Allie Brooks became the latest winner. Named a conference athlete of the week on Wednesday, Brooks continues to break her own school records. Her biggest competition for another title appears to be Gravo, who swept 2016 GPAC pole vault championships. Brooks, Gravo and Tristen Mosier are ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, on the conference leaderboard.

As usual, a lot of points will be expected to come from the throws. That group is headed by GPAC leaders Cody Boellstorff (hammer), Zach Lurz (discus) and Kali Robb (hammer, shot put). Boellstorff is a heavy favorite to claim another title in the hammer and Lurz has a way of rising to the occasion when the stakes are the highest. On paper, the Bulldogs look particularly dominant in the women’s shot put (three of top five), men’s hammer (three of top five), women’s hammer (four of top five) and women’s javelin (three of top five).

Concordia’s most well-rounded athlete is Wiechman an indoor national champion in the heptathlon. Wiechman won indoor awards for most outstanding athlete of the meet at both the conference and national championships and could make a push for similar honors in outdoor. He possesses GPAC best marks in four different events, including the decathlon.

A sneaky good event for the Bulldogs on the men’s side is the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Among GPAC competitors, Taylor Mueller and Kohlton Gabehart rank second and third, respectively. In the hurdles, Ben Hulett teams with Wiechman on a solid 1-2 punch. Elsewhere on the track, senior CJ Muller is in the process of polishing off his stellar career. Not only does he top the GPAC in the 800 meters, he ranks third in the 400 meters and is a key part of the 4x400 meter relay that is currently No. 2 in the GPAC.

The GPAC championships stand out as one of the premier meets in all of the NAIA. According to the USTFCCCA NAIA national ratings that were released on Wednesday, the GPAC ranks as the top NAIA track and field conference for men and women. Both sides were represented by four top 25 teams.

The USTFCCCA also breaks down the national landscape by ranking the best schools for each of the event groups. The USTFCCCA credits Concordia as the nation’s best in the men’s discus, men’s hammer, women’s pole vault, women’s discus, women’s hammer and women’s javelin.

The 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships will again be held in Gulf Shores, Ala. They will run May 25-27 at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium. As of this moment, Concordia’s national qualifying list includes 28 automatic marks. That number does not include the decathlon, an event in which Wiechman ranks No. 4 nationally. Based on the ratings, Lurz is the most well rounded thrower in the nation. He is the national runner up in three events: discus, hammer and shot put. No. 1 marks are held by Boellstorff in the hammer and Robb in the hammer. Robb is also No. 2 in the shot put while Tricia Svoboda is second in the discus. Brooks is sitting second in the pole vault.

Bulldogs leading 2017 GPAC lists
Cody Boellstorff (hammer)
Allie Brooks (pole vault)
Zach Lurz (discus)
CJ Muller (800 meters)
Kali Robb (hammer, shot put)
Lucas Wiechman (110 meter hurdles, 400 meter hurdles, decathlon, pole vault) 

View complete GPAC leaderboard

2016 Concordia GPAC outdoor champions
McKenzie Gravo (pole vault)
Jacob Kettner (triple jump)
Liz King (hammer, javelin)
Kali Robb (shot put)
Josh Slechta (discus, hammer)
Lucas Wiechman (decathlon, 110 meter hurdles)
Kim Wood (800 meters, 1500 meters) 

Concordia all-time conference titles
MENindoor: 2014 | outdoor: 2014, 2015
WOMENindoor: 2010 | outdoor: 1998, 2010, 2012 

Concordia all-time conference runner-up finishes
MENindoor: 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 | outdoor: 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016
WOMENindoor: 2003, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016 | outdoor: 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 

Nationally-ranked GPAC teams
*According to USTFCCCA

MEN
5 – Doane
6 – Concordia
20 – Midland
23 – Dordt
WOMEN
3 – Concordia
5 – Hastings
6 – Doane
22 – Northwestern

Four GPAC individual champions crowned on Friday

FREMONT, Neb. – Three different Bulldog athletes combined to win four individual GPAC titles on the first day of the outdoor conference championships, held Friday at Midland in Fremont, Neb. With six events scored on both sides, the women are in first place with 69 points. Meanwhile, the men sit second with 57 points.

From an overall perspective, head coach Matt Beisel believes his teams have put themselves in position to compete for championships on Saturday.

“We lost some points in some events, but then we had some people really step up huge to cover it,” Beisel said. “That’s what being a team is all about. In any given meet, there are going to be some people who have bad days. That’s why being a team is so important. We have many athletes who can step up beyond their projections and surpass expectations. I think that’s what we have to do tomorrow. We have guys and girls ready to do it.”

Shining senior Lucas Wiechman again looks like a strong candidate for men’s performer of the meet after he took first in the pole vault (16’ 4 ¾”) and then won a surprise conference championship in the long jump (22’ 9 ¼”). He is also one of the favorite in both hurdles events. However, teammate Ben Hulett has the lead in the 110-meter hurdles after the prelims. He raced to a fresh automatic qualifying time of 14.73.

In a dominant showing, Concordia’s group of women’s hammer throwers placed first, second, fourth and seventh. Nursing a knee injury, Kali Robb still managed to win the event with her throw of 173’ 3.” Sydney Meyer (171’ 11”) was the runner up while Tricia Svoboda (163’ 3”) finished fourth and Samantha Liermann (158’ 10”) seventh.

National hammer throw leader Cody Boellstorff was upset by his own teammate. Zach Lurz pulled off the GPAC men’s hammer throw title with a toss of 202’ 1.” Boellstorff settled for runner up with his mark of 200 feet even. Philip Kreutzer and JC Cornelio placed seventh and eighth in the event.

The streak of six-straight Bulldog conference titles in the women’s pole vault was halted on Friday. Anna Megenhardt of Hastings cleared 12’ 8 ¾” and beat out Allie Brooks (12’ 1 ½”) and McKenzie Gravo (11’ 9 ¾”). Brooks and Gravo placed second and third, respectively. Tristen Mosier came in seventh in the pole vault.

Two new ‘A’ standard marks came in the women’s javelin courtesy of Jazzy Eickhoff (134’ 5”) and Svoboda (134’ 3”). They were the fourth and fifth place finishers. Concordia raked in a total of 12 team points from the event. Jake Rodgers and Nathan Elbet scored in the javelin on the men’s side.

On the track, the Bulldog men’s 4x800 meter relay made a run at a national qualifying time and fell just short at 7:45.69. In the women’s 10,000 meter race, Taylor Grove (40:56.94) and Emily Sievert (41:17.41) clocked in fourth and fifth, respectively.

In the multi events, Concordia has three athletes currently in the top eight in the heptathlon (Sophia Hoelz, Jessica Deterding and Anna Beune). Jake Rodgers (second) and Thomas Matik (sixth) are in position for all-conference placements in the decathlon.

The championship meet will wrap up on Saturday in Fremont. Multi events will get started in the morning while the bulk of the meet picks up in the afternoon. Live results can be followed HERE.

Bulldogs collect 10 GPAC event titles; men place second, women third

FREMONT, Neb. – Several members of the senior class continue to separate themselves as some of the most accomplished athletes to come through the Concordia University track and field programs. Their efforts this weekend helped pave the way for the Bulldogs to earn a second-place finish on the men’s side (156.5 points) and third place on the women’s side (148 points).

Bulldog athletes combined for a total of 10 GPAC titles over the two-day meet hosted by Midland in Fremont, Neb. It’s been an incredible 2017 for Lucas Wiechman, the men’s athlete of the meet at both the GPAC and NAIA indoor championships. He repeated that honor at the conference outdoor meet by claiming four more GPAC titles.

“The overall team effort was very, very good,” said head coach Matt Beisel. “We did drop some points that we hoped for, but we also had some people step up and perform above expectations. I feel a huge sense of pride to be a Bulldog. Our women moved up from fourth indoor to third outdoor. At the same time, we have to continue to develop to make sure we can replace these phenomenal seniors.”

In addition to Wiechman, the men’s 4x400 meter relay, Samantha Liermann (shot put), Zach Lurz (discus, hammer throw), Kali Robb (hammer throw) and Tricia Svoboda (discus) all earned the right to call themselves 2017 GPAC outdoor champions. Concordia also had runner-up finishes by Cody Boellstorff (hammer), Allie Brooks (pole vault), CJ Muller (400 meters), Sydney Meyer (hammer) and Robb (shot put).

Wiechman, a 2017 national titlist in the heptathlon, produced marks of 16’ 4 ¾” in the pole vault, 22’ 9 ¼” in the long jump, 14.65 in the 110-meter hurdles and 53.98 in the 400-meter hurdles. He also ran the leadoff leg for the 4x400 meter relay that finished in 3:17.19, just .14 seconds faster than second place Dordt. In addition, Wiechman ran the second leg for the fourth-place 4x100 meter relay.

Female throwers were dominant in the hammer throw on Friday and then turned in another spectacular effort in the shot put on Saturday. Not only did Liermann (48’ ¾”) win it and Robb place second (47’ 5 ¼”), Adrianna Shaw (44’ 6 ¼”) placed sixth and Jazzy Eickhoff (42’ 10 ¼”) eighth. Robb tallied 18 team points all by herself with her first and second place claims. The Bulldog women also claimed four of the top eight spots in the discus.

A four-time national champion in the shot put, Lurz may not have won the GPAC title in the event, but he upset teammate Cody Boellstorff in the hammer on Friday and then won the discus (172’ 11”) on Saturday. Lurz banked 25 team points with his efforts. Meanwhile, Boellstorff still had a solid meet. He placed second in hammer (200’), third in discus (160’ 5”) and seventh in shot put (51’ 4 ¼”).

A total of three fresh automatic national qualifying marks were recorded by Concordia athletes this weekend. All of those performances came on Friday. They were delivered by Eickhoff (134’ 5,” fourth place) and Svoboda (134’ 3,” fifth place) in the javelin and by Ben Hulett (14.73, third place) in the 110-meter hurdles.

In the long distances, junior Emily Sievert and sophomore Taylor Grove did their parts. Grove placed fourth in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races while Sievert was right behind her in fifth in both races. In the men’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, senior Taylor Mueller placed third.

During the GPAC era (2000-present), the Concordia men’s program has now placed either first or second in the conference a total of 15 times with titles coming in 2014 (indoor and outdoor) and 2015 (outdoor). Beisel strongly believes his teams can rise to an even higher level. The most recent conference championship for the women came at the 2012 outdoor meet.

“There’s a sense of desire of wanting more and knowing that we can get there,” Beisel said. “There’s no reason that we can’t with the resources and the staff that we’ve got. It’s a conviction that I have.”

The 2017 outdoor season continues on Friday (May 12) when the Bulldogs host the Concordia Twilight Meet. The first action is set to get underway at 2 p.m. CT. View the complete schedule HERE. The season will conclude at the 2017 NAIA Outdoor National Championships May 25-27 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Concordia GPAC champions

  • Men’s 4x400 meter relay
  • Samantha Liermann – shot put
  • Zach Lurz – discus; hammer throw
  • Kali Robb – hammer throw
  • Tricia Svoboda – discus
  • Lucas Wiechman – 110 meter hurdles; 400 meter hurdles; long jump; pole vault

Wiechman, Lurz pull in major awards; 40 Bulldogs named All-GPAC

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – In the aftermath of second (men) and third (women) place finishes at the 2017 GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, 40 athletes (complete list below) from the Concordia University track and field programs were officially named all-conference honorees by the GPAC on Thursday (May 11).

Major awards went to seniors Zach Lurz and Lucas Wiechman. Winner of four individual GPAC outdoor titles, Wiechman collected the Men’s GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Outstanding Athlete of the Year award. Meanwhile, Lurz took home the honor of Men’s Field Performance of the Meet courtesy of his winning mark of 202’ 1” in the hammer throw.

Wiechman is enjoying a senior season unlike any other in program history. He also earned the GPAC outstanding athlete of the year award for indoor track. Additionally, he’s raked in 2017 honors for outstanding athlete of the meet at the GPAC indoor and outdoor championships and at the NAIA indoor national championships. His 2017 tally includes seven individual GPAC titles and two other conference championships as part of relay teams. At indoor nationals, Wiechman won the heptathlon and was also an All-American in the pole vault and 60 meter hurdles.

Lurz put together a stellar meet of his own, winning GPAC titles in the hammer and discus while placing fourth in the shot put. The native of Chadron, Neb., has captured eight conference and four national titles during his impressive throwing career. He earned the GPAC Outdoor Track and Field Outstanding Athlete of the Year award in 2014, helping lead the Bulldogs to a team conference championship.

The list of all-conference performers includes additional GPAC champions in members of the men’s 4x400 meter relay, Samantha Liermann (shot put), Kali Robb (hammer) and Tricia Svoboda (discus). Sixteen of the 40 Bulldog All-GPAC honorees posted top-eight finishes in two or more events. The following Concordia athletes were All-GPAC place finishers in three or more events: Cody Boellstorff, Lurz, CJ Muller, Svoboda and Wiechman.

Before focusing on the outdoor national championships (May 25-27), the Bulldogs will host the Concordia Twilight Meet on Friday (May 12). The event schedule can be viewed HERE.

Concordia All-GPAC athletes

  • Evan Asche (8th in 10,000 meters)
  • Taylor Beck (7th in triple jump)
  • Anna Beune (7th in heptathlon)
  • Christy Beune (7th in 100 meters)
  • Cody Boellstorff (2nd in hammer; 3rd in discus; 7th in shot put)
  • Allie Brooks (2nd in pole vault)
  • Simon Brummond (8th in pole vault)
  • JC Cornelio (8th in hammer)
  • Jessica Deterding (4th in triple jump; 6th in heptathlon)
  • Jazzy Eickhoff (4th in javelin; 8th in shot put)
  • Nathan Elbert (6th in javelin)
  • Kohlton Gabehart (6th in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • McKenzie Gravo (3rd in pole vault; 7th in long jump)
  • Taylor Grove (4th in 10,000 meters; 4th in 5,000 meters)
  • Ben Hulett (3rd in 110 meter hurdles; 5th in 400 meter hurdles)
  • Jacy Johnston (8th in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • Philip Kreutzer (7th in hammer)
  • Leah Larson (5th in triple jump)
  • Samantha Liermann (1st in shot put; 7th in hammer)
  • Zach Lurz (1st in hammer; 1st in discus; 4th in shot put)
  • Thomas Matik (8th in decathlon)
  • Nathan Matters (1st in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Josiah McAllister (1st in 4x400 meter relay; 6th in 800 meters)
  • Sydney Meyer (2nd in hammer; 6th in javelin)
  • Tristen Mosier (7th in pole vault)
  • Taylor Mueller (3rd in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • CJ Muller (1st in 4x400 meter relay; 2nd in 400 meters; 8th in 800 meters)
  • Jamie Nikodym (7th in 110 meter hurdles)
  • Benjamin Pratt (7th in high jump)
  • Tyrell Reichert (7th in pole vault)
  • Kali Robb (1st in hammer; 2nd in shot put)
  • Jake Rodgers (5th in javelin; 5th in decathlon)
  • Addie Shaw (4th in discus; 6th in shot put)
  • Chris Shelton (8th in 3,000 meter steeplechase)
  • Emily Sievert (5th in 10,000 meters; 5th in 5,000 meters)
  • Carley Skopera (7th in discus)
  • Jan Steinbrueck (8th in discus)
  • Tricia Svoboda (1st in discus; 4th in hammer; 5th in javelin)
  • Lucas Wiechman (1st in pole vault; 1st in long jump; 1st in 110 meter hurdles; 1st in 400 meter hurdles; 1st in 4x400 meter relay)
  • Quinn Wragge (4th in 400 meters)

Twilight Meet makes return on Friday

SEWARD, Neb. – After a year hiatus, the Concordia Twilight Meet is back. The event was not held last year due to the installation of new turf and the resurfacing of the track, which began last May. The 2017 Twilight Meet is set to get started at 2 p.m. CT on Friday. The event schedule can be viewed HERE. Live results will be provided by Black Squirrel Timing and will be available HERE.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads are returning to action after the men placed second and the women third at last week’s GPAC outdoor championships. A total of 40 Bulldog athletes garnered all-conference recognition based on their performances at the meet. Winner of four individual GPAC titles, Lucas Wiechman garnered the award for GPAC Outstanding Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Concordia will be one of 14 institutions represented at the Twilight Meet. The Bulldogs sport NAIA USTFCCCA national rankings of third on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side. Conference competition includes the likes of Briar Cliff, Dakota Wesleyan, Doane, Hastings and Midland.

The outdoor season will culminate with the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, held May 25-27 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Concordia Twilight field
*National rankings in parentheses
Bethel College (Kan.)
Briar Cliff University
Central Methodist University (Mo.)
Concordia University (M – 6 | W – 3)
Culver-Stockton College (Mo.)
Dakota Wesleyan University
Doane University (M – 5 | W – 4)
Grand View University (Iowa)
Hastings College (W – 6)
Midland University (M – 19)
University of Nebraska-Kearney
Tabor College (Kan.)
Mount Marty College
Ottawa University (Kan.)

Bulldogs wind down outdoor season with Twilight Meet

SEWARD, Neb. – The Twilight Meet returned after a year hiatus in 2016. The typically annual event took place Friday both inside and to the east of Bulldog Stadium with athletes representing 14 different institutions making up the field. As part of the highlights for the top 10 nationally-ranked Concordia University track and field squads, two throwers put forth new automatic qualifying marks and seven different athletes claimed event titles (counting events with five or more competitors).

The meet put a cap on another solid lead in to the outdoor national championships. For some Bulldog stars such as Kali Robb and Lucas Wiechman, this weekend was about resting up for the grand event that will soon arrive.

“With a meet like this you want to see if you can get more kids into nationals with an ‘A’ standard, which we did and we wanted to get an idea of where our 800 marks were,” Beisel said. “We got some good information on that. We wanted to run off a meet for us and other teams that would be favorable to getting good marks and getting people into nationals. I think some other teams got that job done, too.

“It was a good meet. Now we just prepare for nationals and see what we can do.”

In the loaded women’s hammer division 2 competition, Samantha Liermann turned in a fresh automatic mark with a toss of 165’ 1.” Concordia’s impressive throws group also now has seven women qualified for nationals in the discus after sophomore Carley Skopera came through with a mark of 144’ 3” in an event won by teammate Bethany Shaw (153’ 8”). Shaw’s mark represented a personal best by nearly seven feet.

That wasn't it for female throwers. Liermann and Addie Shaw went off in the shot put. Liermann rose to No. 1 in the nation in the event with her mark of 49' 1" at the Twilight Meet. Shaw now ranks sixth at 47' 1.75." Both tosses were personal bests in performances that have become the norm for Bulldog throwers.

Sophomores Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo have put on a show all season long in the pole vault. Competing on a runway and pit placed in the center of Bulldog Stadium, they held down the top two spots in the event. Brooks went over 12’ 5 ½” and came close on attempts at 13’ 1.” Gravo was the runner up with a clearance of 12’ 1 ½.” Freshman Tristen Mosier continues to come along. She hit the ‘B’ mark (11’ 5 ¾”) once again.

The day ended with a pair of wins in the 800 meter races. In his lone event of the day, senior CJ Muller clocked in first in the 800 in a time of 1:53.02. Muller has already secured a spot in the national championships in the event. Muller was one of five Concordia men to crack two minutes in the 800 (Josiah McAllister and Nathan Matters placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the event). Right before Muller took the track, senior Marti Vlasin won the women’s 800 by finishing in 2:20.44.

Senior Zach Lurz was narrowly beat out in the shot put Division 2 competition despite throwing a season best 58’ 9 ¼.” Lurz also placed first in discus (172’ 11”). Lurz and teammate Cody Boellstorff gave the hammer throw a break.

An event not often seen at area track meets took place on Friday. Three runners finished the 5,000 meter race walk, including two from Concordia – Cameron Moes and Robbie Peterson. The race walk is not held at the GPAC championships but the event is an annual part of the outdoor national championships.

Thirteen days remain before the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships (May 25-27) get underway at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Twilight winners (events with 5+ competitors)

  • Allie Brooks (pole vault)
  • Jazzy Eickhoff (shot put – Division I)
  • Zach Lurz (discus – Division 2)
  • CJ Muller (800 meters)
  • Bethany Shaw (discus – Division I)
  • Carley Skopera (hammer – Division I)
  • Marti Vlasin (800 meters)

Thirty-three Bulldogs booked for Gulf Shores

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A group of 33 Bulldogs will represent Concordia University track and field at the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships. The NAIA unveiled its list of national qualifiers on Friday (May 19). The complete list of Bulldog competitors can be viewed below. Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads will enter the championship meet with national rankings of third on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side. This year’s event will again take place at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala., with action unfolding May 25-27.

It will be one last hurrah for a remarkable senior class. The national finishes during the careers of the current seniors are staggering. The men’s indoor finishes: 17th in 2014, fifth in 2013, third in 2016 and second in 2017. The men’s outdoor finishes: 11th in 2014, national champs in 2015 and runner up in 2016. Now for the women. Indoor since 2014: 11th, 11th, fifth and seventh. And outdoor since 2014: ninth, fifth and national champs.

Gulf Shores has been good to the Bulldogs, who celebrated a men’s team national title in 2015 and then a women’s team championship in 2016. Individually, senior Zach Lurz will try to defend his 2016 shot put national title. Fellow senior Cody Boellstorff won the hammer throw championship in 2015. Both Kali Robb (shot put) and Tricia Svoboda (discus) finished as national runner ups at the 2016 outdoor national championships.

Breaking it down, 19 of the 33 qualifiers are women. On the men’s side, four of the participants are throwers and six are traveling exclusively as relay runners. The women’s group includes a large field of throwers with 10 qualifiers, including Samantha Liermann, the national leader in the shot put. The women also have a strong group of pole vaulters with Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo leading the pack. Once again, senior Lucas Wiechman will be an athlete to keep an eye on. The GPAC Male Athlete of the Year for both indoor and outdoor, Wiechman will compete in four different events next week.

The multi-events kick off the NAIA National Championships on May 25 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 25 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 2017 NAIA Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, click here.

2017 Outdoor National Championships Qualifiers

NOTE: Some athletes listed below are also relay alternates
*National ranking listed in parentheses

MEN

  • Cody Boellstorff, Senior
    -Hammer (1st, 216’ 6”)
    -Discus (15th, 162’ 1”)
    -Shot put (23rd, 51’ 4 ¼”)
  • JC Cornelio, Freshman
    -Hammer (13th, 180’ 9”)
    -Discus (24th, 158’ 4”)
  • Sam Ferguson, Sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:45.69)
  • Ben Hulett, Junior
    -110 hurdles (20th, 14.73)
  • Philip Kreutzer, Senior
    -Hammer (10th, 188’ 7”)
    -Shot put (19th, 52’)
  • Zach Lurz, Senior
    -Shot put (2nd, 58’ 9 ¼”)
    -Discus (2nd, 179’ 9”)
    -Hammer (3rd, 206’ 6”)
  • Nathan Matters, Sophomore
    -4x400 meter relay (17th, 3:17.19)
  • Josiah McAllister, Sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:45.69)
  • CJ Muller, Senior
    -800 meters (7th, 1:51.40)
    -4x400 meter relay (17th, 3:17.19)
  • Tyrell Reichert, Sophomore
    -Pole vault (12th, 15’ 5”)
  • Jake Rodgers, Freshman
    -4x400 meter relay (17th, 3:17.19)
  • Thomas Taylor, Sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:45.69)
  • Lucas Wiechman, Senior
    -Pole vault (3rd, 16’ 7 ¼”)
    -400 hurdles (8th, 53.98)
    -110 hurdles (9th, 14.43)
    -4x400 meter relay (17th, 3:17.19)
  • Pat Wortmann, Junior
    -4x800 meter relay (16th, 7:45.69)

WOMEN

  • Tori Beran, Sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (19th, 9:28.65)
  • Allie Brooks, Sophomore
    -Pole vault (2nd, 12’ 9 ½”)
  • Alayna Daberkow, Senior
    -4x800 meter relay (19th, 9:28.65)
  • Jazzy Eickhoff, Sophomore
    -Javelin (15th, 134’ 5”)
    -Shot put (25th, 43’ 5”)
  • Jacy Embray, Sophomore
    -Discus (23rd, 142’ 10”)
  • McKenzie Gravo, Sophomore
    -Pole vault (6th, 12’ 8”)
  • Taylor Grove, Sophomore
    -Half marathon (37th, 1:29:28.00)
  • Samantha Liermann, Sophomore
    -Shot put (1st, 49’ 1”)
    -Hammer (15th, 165’ 1”)
  • Sydney Meyer, Senior
    -Hammer (3rd, 179’ 3”)
    -Javelin (13th, 134’ 6”)
  • Tristen Mosier, Freshman
    -Pole vault (23rd, 11’ 5 ¾”)
  • Miranda Rathjen, Freshman
    -4x800 meter relay (19th, 9:28.65)
  • Kali Robb, Senior
    -Hammer (2nd, 190’ 5”)
    -Shot put (3rd, 48’ ¾”)
    -Discus (21st, 143’ 8”)
  • Addie Shaw, Freshman
    -Shot put (7th, 47’ 1 ¾”)
    -Discus (13th, 148’ 1”)
  • Bethany Shaw, Freshman
    -Discus (7th, 153’ 8”)
  • Carley Skopera, Sophomore
    -Discus (20th, 144’ 3”)
  • Jan Steinbrueck, Junior
    -Discus (15th, 147’ 4”)
  • Tricia Svoboda, Senior
    -Discus (2nd, 158’ 4”)
    -Hammer (10th, 171’ 8”)
    -Javelin (16th, 134’ 3”)
  • Marti Vlasin, Senior
    -4x800 meter relay (19th, 9:28.65)
  • Quinn Wragge, Sophomore
    -4x800 meter relay (19th, 9:28.65)

Sunset looming on impeccable career of Bulldog thrower

When it comes to throwing, senior Zach Lurz is the complete package. He commands the ring with a swagger that makes him one of the more compelling figures in the history of the Concordia University track and field program. No matter the circumstances – even if they require battling through injury – Lurz almost always comes up huge when it matters the most.

Lurz is physically gifted, but throws coach Ed McLaughlin actually wondered whether the native of Chadron, Neb., was a bit too small when he first arrived at Concordia for the 2012-13 academic year.

“I remember him being a hair short, a little too small and having really fuzzy hair,” McLaughlin joked. “Those were the three things that stood out. You could tell there was something different with his talent level though. He always had an ability to handle technique. We’ve spent most of his career just adjusting little things. By the end of his freshman year, I’m thinking we have a guy who can qualify for nationals in three events (shot put, discus and hammer). Very few people are at the level he’s at in all three.”

The facts certainly back up McLaughlin’s statement. Going into next week’s outdoor national championships, Lurz is the only thrower in the nation who can boast top three national marks in three different throwing events. Not only that, Lurz’s name is all over the Concordia record books. He is the school standard bearer in both the indoor and outdoor shot put.

A workaholic, Lurz has gotten to this point thanks to a burning desire to be great and that aforementioned swagger. It’s easy to be confident when you can show off four individual national titles and 14 All-America awards. The Torrington High School alum is no longer that scrawny freshman. Actually, Lurz used a redshirt his first year on campus, then also a member of the football team, and put it to good use.

As the kids would say, Lurz went and got swole.

“The biggest thing was strength,” Lurz said. “I’ve always been a technician with it. My dad did what he could to help, but you can only learn so much off of YouTube. That’s where we learned rotational shot. I had to get stronger. When I came in, I couldn’t hang clean 185 pounds. My bench was like 245. In my redshirt year I nearly doubled my bench, got my squat over 500 pounds and my cleans just shy of 315. The big thing was getting my strength up to a level where I could compete with other guys. My body was ready for it. I just hadn’t been on a strength training program before. When Ed took that over, it changed everything.”

Lurz possessed only a mere fraction of his current strength, but the high school version of himself was still a well-rounded athlete. At one point, Lurz thought baseball was going to be his game, saying he “loved it more than any of the other sports.” Lurz pitched and also played football and wrestled. He garnered Wyoming all-state honors as a center and placed second at state wrestling.

Members of the football staff believe Lurz would have been a fine contributor on the gridiron inside Bulldog Stadium. However, Lurz came to a realization that he needed to focus on one thing if he was going to truly reach greatness. At times as a freshman, Lurz simply felt overwhelmed with all of the responsibility of college classes and being a member of two athletic teams. There really was no offseason.

“I wasn’t ready to be done with it,” said Lurz of his decision to play football at Concordia. “I wanted to get more time out of it. I love football. I really enjoyed hitting people so they stuck me on the defensive line. I got my one season out of the way. I wanted to be good at something. Picking what I did, looking back, I think I made the right choice.”

That statement appeared quite evident early on in Lurz’s career. At his first national championship meet in 2014, Lurz placed eighth in the shot put, netting him All-America accolades. We know now that Lurz was just getting warmed up. At the 2014 GPAC outdoor championships, Lurz claimed his first two conference titles with wins in the shot put and discus. By 2015, Lurz had reached a plateau that many athletes simply dream about. He placed as the national runner up in two events, raked in the most valuable performer award at the national meet and powered the Bulldogs to the first team national title in school history.

McLaughlin can go on and on about what makes Lurz a champion. Other throwers would be wise to take notes.

“One thing about Zach is he never takes a day off,” McLaughlin said. “The day after conference he went back out and did a session of throws in the hammer. He’s always done that. I have to kick him out of the weight room. I have to kick him out of the ring. He also has an amazing ability to really focus in on what he’s doing at that time and do it really well. A lot of it goes back to his ability to understand what he needs to focus on.”

That mental game will serve Lurz well after he closes the book next week on his Concordia career. His next venture will be as an assistant coach at Dakota Wesleyan. Lurz will attempt to apply many things he’s learned from Concordia and McLaughlin as he builds up the Tiger throws program. Says McLaughlin, “I’m excited about it. Like I’ve told people, I’m a little nervous about it. He’s going to be a good coach.”

“I learned how to build a program from just about everyone on the staff here, especially Ed and (strength and conditioning coordinator Todd) Berner,” Lurz said. “The relationship part I’ve picked up. Seeing kids develop in the way that they develop is the big thing. We take kids who aren’t exactly DI athletes, but we turn them into DI athletes. We have kids like Cody (Boellstorff) who have never touched the hammer before and inside of five years he’s a 215-foot hammer thrower. That’s unheard of.”

It would be difficult to find an assistant coach with a more sparkling athletic résumé than Lurz. It’s not hyperbolic to call Lurz’s series of performances legen … wait for it … dary.

Says Lurz,I’m sure I’ll look back in five years and think that this was amazing. What we’ve done as a team will rarely be repeated.”

Nationals preview: this is it for impressive senior class

NAIA national championships pages: MEN | WOMEN

SEWARD, Neb. – For 11 seniors, the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships signal the end of the line for what’s been a remarkable and unprecedented run when it comes to the history of Concordia University track and field. The national event is set to take place Thursday through Saturday at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala., where the NAIA outdoor championships have been held since 2014.

During the time the national championship meet has taken place in Gulf Shores, the Bulldog men’s and women’s teams have never placed lower than 11th. In each of the last two years, the program has celebrated either a men’s (2015) or women’s (2016) team national title. Entering this year’s meet ranked third on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side, Concordia again expects a lot of itself.

“The emotional intensity is high,” said head coach Matt Beisel recently on the weekly coaches’ radio show. “Our kids go into this ready to win. There’s definitely a heightened sense of anticipation. We’re going to have the potential to put a lot of points on the board on both the men’s and women’s sides. We’ll see where it falls out. Lucas Wiechman is a name we’ve talked about a lot. He’s not going to compete in the decathlon. We think he can put more points on the board by focusing on those other events.”

For Wiechman, those other events are the 110 and 400 meter hurdles, the pole vault and the 4x400 meter relay. Now a 10-time All-American and a heptathlon national champion, Wiechman has put everything together as a senior. He’s collected athlete of the meet awards at every championship meet in 2017 – GPAC indoor and outdoor championships and at the NAIA indoor championships. His highest current national ranking is a No. 3 slotting in the pole vault.

As announced last week, Beisel’s qualifying field includes 33 individuals (one relay alternate). More than 40 percent (14) are making their first trips to the national stage. There are also plenty of seasoned veterans like throwers Cody Boellstorff and Zach Lurz, who own a combined seven individual national titles. Concordia’s national qualifiers possess a combined total of 59 All-America awards. Lurz leads the pack with 14 during his incredible career. A defending champion in the shot put, Lurz has won all of his national titles in the shot.

Breaking it down further, 19 of the 33 qualifiers are women. On the men’s side, four of the participants are throwers and six are traveling exclusively as relay runners. The women’s group includes a large field of throwers with 10 qualifiers, including Samantha Liermann, the national leader in the shot put. The women also have a strong group of pole vaulters with Allie Brooks and McKenzie Gravo ranked second and sixth nationally, respectively, in the event.

Boellstorff (hammer) and Liermann (shot put) are the team’s national leaders heading into the meet. Concordia athletes own a total of 16 marks that rank inside the top eight nationally (see list below). Four different Bulldogs hold marks that position them No. 2 on the national list: Brooks (pole vault), Lurz (shot put and discus), Kali Robb (hammer) and Tricia Svoboda (discus).

The multi-events kick off the NAIA National Championships on May 25 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 25 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 2017 NAIA Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, click here.

Bulldogs in the top eight nationally

  • Cody Boellstorff – 1st in hammer (216’ 6”)
  • Samantha Liermann – 1st in shot put (49’ 1”)
  • Allie Brooks – 2nd in pole vault (12’ 9 ½”)
  • Zach Lurz – 2nd in shot put (58 9 ¼”); 2nd in discus (179’ 9”); 3rd in hammer (206’ 6”)
  • Kali Robb – 2nd in hammer (190’ 5”); 3rd in shot put (48’ ¾”)
  • Tricia Svoboda – 2nd in discus (158’ 4”)
  • Sydney Meyer – 3rd in hammer (179’ 3”)
  • Lucas Wiechman – 3rd in pole vault (16’ 7 ¼”); 8th in 400 hurdles (53.98)
  • McKenzie Gravo – 6th in pole vault (12’ 8”)
  • CJ Muller – 7th in 800 meters (1:51.40)
  • Addie Shaw – 7th in shot put (47’ 1 ¾”)
  • Bethany Shaw – 7th in discus (153’ 8”)

2017 Concordia outdoor national qualifiers
Tori Beran, Sophomore (first trip to nationals; relay alternate)
Cody Boellstorff, Senior (All-America awards: 6; three national titles)
Allie Brooks, Sophomore (All-America awards: 1)
JC Cornelio, Freshman (first trip to nationals)
Alayna Daberkow, Senior (second trip to nationals)
Jazzy Eickhoff, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Jacy Embray, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Sam Ferguson, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
McKenzie Gravo, Sophomore (All-America awards: 2)
Taylor Grove, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Ben Hulett, Junior (second-straight trip to nationals)
Philip Kreutzer, Senior (All-America awards: 2)
Samantha Liermann, Sophomore (All-America awards: 3)
Zach Lurz, Senior (All-America awards: 14; four national titles)
Nathan Matters, Sophomore (All-America awards: 1)
Josiah McAllister, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Sydney Meyer, Senior (earned first All-America award at 2017 indoor nationals)
Tristen Mosier, Freshman (first trip to nationals)
CJ Muller, Senior (All-America awards: 6)
Johanna Ragland, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Miranda Rathjen, Freshman (first trip to nationals)
Tyrell Reichert, Sophomore (third trip to nationals)
Jake Rodgers, Sophomore (second trip to nationals)
Kali Robb, Senior (All-America awards: 9)
Addie Shaw, Freshman (earned first All-America award at 2017 indoor nationals)
Bethany Shaw, Freshman (first trip to nationals)
Carley Skopera, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Jan Steinbrueck, Junior (second trip to nationals)
Tricia Svoboda, Senior (All-America awards: 2)
Thomas Taylor, Sophomore (first trip to nationals)
Lucas Wiechman, Senior (All-America awards: 10; one national title)
Marti Vlasin, Senior (All-America awards: 1)
Quinn Wragge, Sophomore (first trip to nationals) 

Concordia National Championships Schedule

*All times are CDT

Thursday, May 25
10 a.m. – Women’s Hammer Final (Liermann, Meyer, Robb, Svoboda)
1 p.m. – Men’s Hammer Final (Boellstorff, Cornelio, Kreutzer, Lurz)
3 p.m. – Women’s Javelin Final (Eickhoff, Meyer, Svoboda)
3 p.m. – Women’s Pole Vault Final (Brooks, Gravo, Mosier)
4:25 p.m. – Men’s 400m Hurdles Trials (Wiechman)
5:40 p.m. – Women’s 4x800m Relay Trials
6:15 p.m. – Men’s 4x800m Relay Trials 

Friday, May 26
1 p.m. – Women’s Shot Put Final (Eickhoff, Liermann, Robb, A. Shaw)
1:45 p.m. – Men’s 110m Hurdle Trials (Hulett, Wiechman)
2:20 p.m. – Men’s 800m Trials (Muller)
5 p.m. – Men’s Discus Final (Boellstorff, Cornelio, Lurz)
5:30 p.m. – Women’s 4x800m Relay Final
5:50 p.m. – Men’s 4x800m Relay Final
8:15 p.m. – Men’s 4x400m Relay Trials 

Saturday, May 27
6 a.m. – Women’s Marathon Final (Grove)
1 p.m. – Men’s Shot Put Final (Boellstorff, Kreutzer, Lurz)
1 p.m. – Men’s Pole Vault Final (Reichert, Wiechman)
2 p.m. – Women’s Discus Final (Embray, Robb, A. Shaw, B. Shaw, Skopera, Steinbrueck, Svoboda)
3:30 p.m. – Men’s 110m Hurdles Final (Hulett, Wiechman)
4:20 p.m. – Men’s 400m Hurdles Final (Wiechman)
5 p.m. – Men’s 800m Final (Muller)
6:25 p.m. – Men’s 4x400m Relay Final 

Concordia outdoor national finishes since 2005
2016: M – 2nd | W – 1st
2015: M – 1st | W – 5th
2014: M – 11th | W – 9th
2013: M – 42nd | W – 20th
2012: M – 57th | W – 15th
2011: M – 11th | W – 57th
2010: M – 24th | W – 14th
2009: M – 7th | W – 19th
2008: M – 11th | W – 29th
2007: M – 15th | W – 24th
2006: M – 7th | W – 28th
2005: M – 13th | W – 17th 

Concordia indoor national finishes since 2000
2017: M 2nd | W 7th
2016: M 3rd | W 5th
2015: M 5th | W 11th
2014: M –17th| W –11th
2013: M –27th | W –13th
2012: M –38th | W –29th
2011: M –7th| W –26th
2010: M –15th| W –12th
2009: M –12th| W –11th
2008: M –7th| W –14th
2007: M –19th| W –36th
2006: M –5th| W –29th
2005: M –26th| W –15th
2004: M –7th| W –27th
2003: M –5th| W –9th
2002: M –20th| W –8th
2001: M –12th| W –21st
2000: M –2nd | W –12th

Lurz, McLaughlin earn NAIA regional awards from USTFCCCA

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Based on their performances this outdoor season, both senior Zach Lurz and assistant coach Ed McLaughlin have been selected as NAIA regional honorees by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA), as announced on Monday (May 22). Lurz garnered NAIA Midwest Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year award while McLaughlin swept NAIA Midwest Outdoor Men’s and Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year accolades.

A senior from Chadron, Neb., Lurz continues to shine as one of the nation’s elite throwers. During this outdoor season, Lurz won GPAC titles in the hammer and discus and collected the conference men’s field performance of the meet for his work in the hammer. Heading into this week’s outdoor national championships, Lurz ranks second nationally in both the shot put (58’ 9 ¼”) and discus (179’ 9”) and third in the hammer (206’ 6”). A 14-time All-American and four-time national champion, Lurz was named by the USTFCCCA as the NAIA indoor Midwest and National Field Athlete of the Year in 2016.

McLaughlin has now raked in a total of six NAIA Midwest regional coaching honors over the past two years. He was also tabbed a NAIA national assistant coach of the year three times throughout the 2016 indoor and outdoor seasons. In his 20th year as an assistant on the track and field staff, McLaughlin has helped 14 different throwers qualify for the upcoming national championships. Both Cody Boellstorff and Lurz are past national champions. Currently, Boellstorff is No. 1 in the men’s hammer and Samantha Liermann tops the women’s shot put. Concordia throwers won a total of five GPAC titles at the 2017 outdoor conference meet.

The 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships will run Thursday through Friday in Gulf Shores, Ala. For a preview of the meet, click HERE.

Boellstorff claims fourth title; Bulldogs lead NAIA after day one

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Senior Cody Boellstorff wasn’t thrilled about surrendering the GPAC hammer throw title to teammate Zach Lurz. That occurrence helped motivate Boellstorff in his preparation for the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, which saw the Waverly, Neb., native become a national champion for the fourth time in his career. He and six other Bulldogs claimed All-America honors on Thursday, which marked the opening day of the national championships.

In terms of team scoring, head coach Matt Beisel’s squads sit in first place on both sides, although it’s extremely early. The men have compiled 20 points. The women have amassed 19 points.

“We had a very good first day,” Beisel said. “We had a number of personal bests and people competing above their seed marks, as usual. Having our women and men place as high as they did in the throws was huge. Lucas (Wiechman) ran a fantastic 400 hurdle prelim and I am convinced he is set for a big performance in the finals. McKenzie Gravo stepped up and jumped a personal best. Our women’s 4x800 was fantastic. It was a phenomenal effort from our ladies.”

After redshirting the 2016 outdoor season, Boellstorff was eager to return to the site where he helped lead the Bulldogs to a team national title in 2015. This time around, Boellstorff popped off a mark of 212’ 7 ½”, outdistancing runner up Erik Escobedo of Bethel (Ind.) by more than eight feet. Boellstorff is now owner of four career national titles, two in the weight throw and two in the hammer.

“This is a pretty good way for me to end my career,” said Boellstorff, who will also compete this weekend in the discus and the shot put. “I’m pretty happy with it.”

The hammer proved fruitful for both the Concordia men and women. Not only did Boellstorff win the event, Lurz placed third (200’ 11”) and Philip Kreutzer fifth (189’ 8 ¾”). Those finishes gave the Bulldogs 20 team points. Lurz chalked up his 15th career All-America award. On the women’s side, Kali Robb netted her 10th collegiate All-America honor by taking third in the hammer (181’ 5”). In the same competition, senior Sydney Meyer placed fifth (175’ 1”). Liermann put up a personal best (165’ 2 ¼”) and made the finals of the weight throw.

There were highs and lows in the women’s pole vault where sophomore McKenzie Gravo jumped an outdoor personal best of 12’ 7 ½”, slotting her in fourth place, up three spots from where she finished a year ago. Sophomore Allie Brooks, a third-place indoor national finisher in the pole vault, no heighted on Thursday. Making her first career national appearance, freshman Tristen Mosier, who cleared 11’ 1 ¾.”

“My teammate Allie Brooks has kept me motivated for sure,” Gravo said. “She has strengthened me in my emotional and spiritual life. I don’t think I could be here without her. I’m so happy to be part of this team.”

Of the three qualifiers in the women’s javelin, Tricia Svoboda was the highlight performer. She turned in a toss of 141 feet, which topped her previous 2017 best by nearly seven feet. Svoboda entered the national meet ranked 15th in the event. Jazzy Eickhoff placed 10th in the javelin.

As mentioned by Beisel, Wiechman got off to a solid start in a meet that will only get more hectic for the GPAC outdoor male athlete of the year. He finished sixth in the prelims of the 400 meter hurdles by finishing in a time of 53.38. He’ll be in the finals of the event on Saturday. He will also compete in the 110 meter hurdles, pole vault and as part of the 4x400 meter relay.

In addition, both 4x800 meter relays ran off on Thursday. The women clocked a season best of 9:21.39. Neither relay qualified for the finals. The women’s 4x8 included Marti Vlasin, Quinn Wragge, Alayna Daberkow and Miranda Rathjen.

A lot more action is coming up Friday and Saturday (see Friday schedule below). Live results can be found HERE.

2017 All-Americans

  • Cody Boellstorff: hammer (1st)
  • McKenzie Gravo: pole vault (4th)
  • Philip Kreutzer: hammer (5th)
  • Zach Lurz: hammer (3rd)
  • Sydney Meyer: hammer (5th)
  • Kali Robb: hammer (3rd)
  • Tricia Svoboda: javelin (5th)

Concordia Friday schedule

1 p.m. – Women’s Shot Put Final (Eickhoff, Liermann, Robb, A. Shaw)
1:45 p.m. – Men’s 110m Hurdle Trials (Hulett, Wiechman)
2:20 p.m. – Men’s 800m Trials (Muller)
5 p.m. – Men’s Discus Final (Boellstorff, Cornelio, Lurz)
8:15 p.m. – Men’s 4x400m Relay Trials

Liermann wins shot put title; Bulldogs maintain national leads after day two

GULF SHORES, Ala. – The emotional rollercoaster of a national championship meet continued into day two at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in sunny Gulf Shores, Ala., on Friday. Immediately after disappointment creeped in, sophomore Sam Liermann picked the mood back up for the Concordia University track and field programs with her first career national title. Her efforts headlined the day that included three All-America performances by Bulldog athletes.

With most running events yet to be scored on Saturday, head coach Matt Beisel’s squads own national leads on both sides. Concordia emerged from the outdoor national championships with a men’s team title in 2015 and then a women’s championship in 2016. The Bulldogs’ current national best point totals stand at 29 on the women’s side and 26 on the men’s side.

Liermann entered the weekend seeded first in the shot put. She lived up to the pressure, nearly equaling her personal best with her winning toss of 48’ 8 ¼.” In the process, Liermann recorded the 12th individual throwing national title achieved under the tutelage of assistant coach Ed McLaughlin since 2014. Liermann joined Liz King as one of two female throwers to win national titles over the past two years.

A transfer from the University of Nebraska, Liermann claimed her fourth career All-America award. All of them have come in the shot put.

“I kind of had an idea that I could do it,” Liermann said. “I just didn’t know. I definitely didn’t think this year would be the year with coming off surgery earlier in the year. I didn’t expect it this year, but I thought it was possible and I wanted it.”

The national titles will never get old for McLaughlin, who also helped guide Cody Boellstorff to a championship in the hammer throw on Friday.

“It’s super special,” McLaughlin said. “To be a national champion is just amazing. I feel it for them and I know how happy Sam was and how excited she was. For her to do it today in a tough competition is pretty amazing. I’m really excited for her.”

Liermann was the first of three Concordia All-Americans in the throws on Friday. In the men’s discus, Zach Lurz added his second All-America award (16th career) of the weekend, by throwing the discus 171’ 1 ½.” While outperforming his 15th-ranked mark, Boellstorff took eighth place for his toss measuring 164’ 8 ¾.” That gave Boellstorff his first career All-America honor in the discus.

“Anytime you’re an All-American it’s a huge achievement,” McLaughlin said. “No one should ever take it for granted. That’s Zach’s fourth discus All-America honor, and it was his best finish ever in it. That’s great for him. With Cody, he just started throwing discus two years ago. During his redshirt season last year he never touched. He’s thrown discus for about 12 weeks in his life.”

Three other Concordia women competed in the shot put on Friday. Kali Robb (45’ ¼”) just missed the finals, placing 10th. Addie Shaw placed 18th (43’ 3 ¾”) and Jazzy Eickhoff came in 23rd (41’ 9 ¾”). In his first weekend of national championships experience, JC Cornelio placed 26th (146’ 10”) in the discus.

On the track, things did not play out as hoped. In the prelims of the 110 meter hurdles, senior Lucas Wiechman got out of the blocks slowly and did not finish the race. Teammate Ben Hulett clocked in at 16.77 (23rd place) as part of a tough sequence for the Bulldogs. A bit later in the afternoon, senior CJ Muller checked in at 1:59.31 in the 800 meters. He did not qualify for the finals of the event.

The day concluded with the men’s 4x400 meter relay taking the track. Concordia placed seventh in its heat and 13th overall with a season best time of 3:16.42. The quartet included Wiechman, Jake Rodgers, Nathan Matters and Muller.

Saturday will mark the end for a talented senior group of Bulldogs. Lurz will take aim for his fifth career shot put national title. McLaughlin will try not to get too emotional.

“Hopefully they’re dealing with it the right way,” McLaughlin said. “Now is the time to go all out and just enjoy it. No matter what happens tomorrow, all six of them (senior national qualifying throwers) have had amazing careers. Everybody would love to have had their careers. We still have one more day of work to do. It’s a very special class for me. The last two senior classes have been very special.”

2017 All-Americans

  • Cody Boellstorff: hammer (1st); discus (8th)
  • McKenzie Gravo: pole vault (4th)
  • Philip Kreutzer: hammer (5th)
  • Sam Liermann: shot put (1st)
  • Zach Lurz: hammer (3rd); discus (4th)
  • Sydney Meyer: hammer (5th)
  • Kali Robb: hammer (3rd)
  • Tricia Svoboda: javelin (5th)

Concordia Saturday Schedule

6 a.m. – Women’s Marathon Final (Grove)
1 p.m. – Men’s Shot Put Final (Boellstorff, Kreutzer, Lurz)
1 p.m. – Men’s Pole Vault Final (Reichert, Wiechman)
2 p.m. – Women’s Discus Final (Embray, Robb, A. Shaw, B. Shaw, Skopera, Steinbrueck, Svoboda)
4:20 p.m. – Men’s 400m Hurdles Final (Wiechman)

Wiechman seizes pole vault title; Bulldogs take home top-six finishes

GULF SHORES, Ala. – The Concordia University track and field programs balanced out the championship weekend by claiming exactly one individual national title on each day at the three-day 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. Senior Lucas Wiechman became the latest national titlist by rising above his competitors in the pole vault. Wiechman took home two of the Bulldogs’ 15 All-America awards at the meet. The other national titlists were Cody Boellstorff in the hammer and Sam Liermann in the shot put.

The men accumulated 46 points and checked in at No. 5 in the team standings. Defending outdoor national champions, the Concordia women placed sixth with 36 points.

“I am incredibly proud of all of our kids,” said head coach Matt Beisel, who completed his first full year leading the track and field programs. “Our seniors had a fantastic finish to their careers. Lucas Wiechman winning the national championship in the pole vault was absolutely awesome. Same thing with Cody Boellstorff in the hammer. We also had a lot of seniors who stepped up big. A lot of good things happened with some younger kids, too. You have to mention Sam Liermann winning the shot put. I was just really happy.

“We had a number of people walk away from events dissatisfied. Fortunately, many of them are underclassmen who get another shot at it next year. Now they have a better idea of what it’s all about. Overall, the attitude has been really positive.”

Just as Wiechman was getting set to race in the finals of the 400 meter hurdles, a loud roar rang out from the crowd near the pole vault pit. With the pole vault title in hand, Wiechman glided to a fifth-place finish in the hurdles, clocking in at 54.05. Also an indoor national champion in the heptathlon, Wiechman won the pole vault competition with a personal best mark of 16’ 10 ¾.”

Saturday’s performance capped one of the greatest calendar years for a Concordia track and field athlete in program history. In 2017, Wiechman won athlete of the meet awards at the GPAC indoor and outdoor championships and at the NAIA indoor championships. He couldn’t have finished his collegiate career any better.

“I heard CJ’s (Muller) mom (yell),” Wiechman said. “It was just awesome the support I got running through the 400 hurdles. I kind of got winded from jogging over there (to the starting blocks) because I’m out of shape. I could just hear them yelling as I’m running by. I could hear all the pole vaulters. I have to thank God for all that.”

Accomplished senior Lurz began the day with hopes of making a run at a national title of his own. He waited until the finals to pop off a big throw of 57’ 4 ¾,” which put him less than two feet off the winning toss of 59’ 3.” Instead of claiming another championship, Lurz settled for third place. No reason to fret. Lurz emerged from the meet with three All-America awards, giving him 17 for his career.

Also a four-time national champ, Lurz will depart from Concordia as perhaps the greatest thrower the program has ever seen. At meet’s end, Lurz fielded plenty of handshakes and hugs for the respect he’s earned as a Bulldog.

“Across the board in the GPAC, we’ve pushed each other. We’re basically teammates,” Lurz said. “They’re good friends of mine and we feed off each other. When I hit the big one, Alex Wellington (Hastings) came back and hit another one. So did Zach (Brittain of Doane). As we competed, the marks moved up and up. It made for a great, fantastic competition today.”

Additional fresh All-America awards were claimed on Saturday by senior Tricia Svoboda (151’ 3 ¼”) and freshman Bethany Shaw (151’ 2 ½”) in the discus. They placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Concordia put seven qualifiers in the event, including junior Jan Steinbrueck, who reached the finals and finished ninth (139’ 10 ¼”). Svoboda was one of four Bulldogs to post All-America finishes in multiple events over the course of the weekend.

Also in the men’s shot put, Cody Boellstorff outperformed his seeding, advancing to the finals and ultimately placing ninth (53’ 1”). Not only did Boellstorff win the hammer throw title for the second time in his career, he also earned an All-America award in the discus with an eighth-place finish on Friday.

Humidity became a much bigger factor on Saturday than it was on Thursday or Friday. The muggy conditions played a role in sophomore Taylor Grove having to pull out of the marathon early Saturday morning. She reached the 20th mile before calling it a day.

Wiechman has notched the 15th pole vault national title in Concordia men’s track and field history. He is the first to accomplish the feat since Jeb Myers won the indoor pole vault title in 2003. The Bulldogs have a strong history in the event. School Hall of Famers TJ Kloster (six) and Gene Brooks (five) own a combined 11 pole vault national championships.

The men’s string of consecutive national championship meets with top-five finishes has grown to six. In addition, the Bulldogs managed to again defeat conference champion Doane. The group of four-year senior men placed higher than their conference rivals at every single national championship meet of their careers. In early March, Concordia took second on the men’s side and seventh on the women’s side at the indoor national championships.

“It’s so hard to imagine the team without the seniors,” Beisel said. “The returning kids we have are hungry and they are dedicated. Then you throw in a big recruiting class and I think it’s going to have a big impact. It’s going to allow us to continue to maintain conference and national competitiveness. I think we’re looking great for next year.”

2017 All-Americans

  • Cody Boellstorff: hammer (1st); discus (8th)
  • McKenzie Gravo: pole vault (4th)
  • Philip Kreutzer: hammer (5th)
  • Sam Liermann: shot put (1st)
  • Zach Lurz: hammer (3rd); discus (4th); shot put (3rd)
  • Sydney Meyer: hammer (5th)
  • Kali Robb: hammer (3rd)
  • Bethany Shaw: discus (6th)
  • Tricia Svoboda: javelin (5th); discus (5th)
  • Lucas Wiechman: pole vault (1st); 400 hurdles (5th)

Nineteen track athletes net Scholar-Athlete honors; women lead nation

Scholar-Athletes: Men | Women

SEWARD, Neb. – For the fifth year in a row, the Concordia University women’s track and field program is the national leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Thirteen Bulldog women represented the program on the list of 2017 Scholar-Athletes. In addition, six men’s track and field athletes also earned the same distinction (full list at bottom). Of the 19 total Scholar-Athletes, 12 are senior and seven are juniors.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s squads are fresh off of fifth (men) and sixth (women) place finishes at the outdoor national championships. A junior academically, Sam Liermann is now a Scholar-Athlete in addition to becoming the national champion in the shot put. Five of the 19 Scholar-Athletes were in action this holiday weekend at the national championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.

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 466 women’s track and field and 316 men’s track and field student-athletes across the nation were named 2017 Scholar-Athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,277 and counting (27 for the fall athletics season). The 2015-16 season produced a GPAC best 92 Bulldog scholar-athletes and a national best 20 NAIA Scholar-Teams. 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).

2017 Track & Field Scholar-Athletes

MEN
Christian Egger, Sr. | Galva, Iowa | Secondary Education
Ryan Gross
, Sr. | Riverside, Calif. | Physics/Chemistry/Music
Scott Johnson
, Jr. | Kansas City, Kan. | Biology
Taylor Mueller
, Sr. | Cedar Rapids, Iowa | Secondary Education/History
CJ Muller
, Sr. | Omaha, Neb. | Biology
Ryan Olson
, Jr. | Yankton, S.D. | Secondary Education/Behavioral Science

WOMEN
Andrea Anderson, Jr. | Omaha, Neb.
Anna Beune
, Jr. | Dodge, Neb. | Biology; Pre-Nursing
Christy Beune
, Sr. | Dodge, Neb. | Exercise Science; Pre-Physical Therapy
Alayna Daberkow
, Sr. | Madison, Neb. | Marketing
Morgan Eggert
, Sr. | Atkins, Iowa | Behavioral Science/Psychology
Bri Hallmark
, Sr. | Longmont, Colo. | Marketing/Graphic Design
Sam Liermann
, Jr. | Wisner, Neb. | Recreation and Sport Studies
Sydney Meyer
, Sr. | Campbell, Neb. | Elementary Education
Beth Rasmussen
, Sr. | Omaha, Neb. | World & Intercultural Studies
Emily Sievert
, Jr. | Frankenmuth, Mich. | Secondary Ed/English/Music
Angie Steinbacher
, Sr. | St. Charles, Mo. | Elementary Education
Jan Steinbrueck
, Jr. | St. Louis, Mo. | DCE/Theology
Marti Vlasin
, Sr. | Seward, Neb. | Middle Level Education

Liermann, Muller and Wiechman nab Academic All-District awards

CoSIDA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A trio of Bulldogs from the powerhouse Concordia University track and field programs have been selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) for their work in the classroom and in athletics. Taking CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades are seniors CJ Muller and Lucas Wiechman and sophomore Sam Liermann. Muller is now a two-time Academic All-District choice. The all-district selections were announced on May 25.

The CoSIDA Academic All-District® Track and 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.

Liermann enjoyed a big outdoor season that included championships at both the GPAC and NAIA national meets in the shot put. The native of Wisner, Neb., also placed fifth in the shot put at the 2017 indoor national championships. A transfer from the University of Nebraska, Liermann has already collected four All-America awards as a Bulldog. She is a recreation and sport studies major.

An Omaha native, Muller concluded his collegiate career with six All-America awards. Muller won individual GPAC titles in the 600 meters in each of the last two years. He’s also a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete. Muller ran a leg for the 2015 All-America 4x400 meter relay that clinched the first-ever team national title in the history of Concordia University. Muller earned his degree in biology.

Wiechman put together an impressive senior season that included an indoor national title in the heptathlon and then an outdoor national championship in the pole vault. His 2017 seasons also were highlighted by seven individual GPAC titles and two conference championships as part of the 4x400 meter relay. Wiechman garnered performer of the meet awards at the GPAC indoor and outdoor meets and at the NAIA indoor championships. He was tabbed the 2017 GPAC athlete of the year for indoor and outdoor. He is now a 12-time NAIA All-American.

District 3 of the College Division covers institutions in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Academic All-District™ honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America® honorees will be selected. The selections are scheduled to be announced on June 20.

2016-17 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Le’Dontrae Gooden, Football
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Sam Liermann, Track & Field
CJ Muller, Track & Field
Lucas Wiechman, Track & Field 

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

Bulldogs close 2017 with 29 All-America awards

SEWARD, Neb. – Fifteen Concordia University track and field athletes combined for a total of 29 All-America performances over the course of the 2017 NAIA indoor and outdoor national championships. In Matt Beisel’s first year leading Bulldog track and field, the men’s team placed second at the indoor national championships and fifth at the outdoor national championships. The women turned in respective national finishes of seventh and sixth.

The list of 2017 All-Americans (shown below) includes four individuals that won at least one national title: Cody Boellstorff (weight throw and hammer), Sam Liermann (outdoor shot put), Zach Lurz (indoor shot put) and Lucas Wiechman (heptathlon and outdoor pole vault). Wiechman’s six All-America awards ranked as the most on the team in 2017.

2017 Concordia track and field All-Americans

  • Cody Boellstorff
    -Indoor: weight throw (1st)
    -Outdoor: hammer (1st); discus (8th)
  • Allie Brooks
    -Indoor: pole vault (3rd)
  • McKenzie Gravo
    -Outdoor: pole vault (4th)
  • Philip Kreutzer
    -Outdoor: hammer (5th)
  • Samantha Liermann
    -Indoor: shot put (5th)
    -Outdoor: shot put (1st)
  • Zach Lurz
    -Indoor: shot put (1st); weight throw (3rd)
    -Outdoor: hammer (3rd); shot put (3rd); discus (4th)
  • Nathan Matters
    Indoor: 4x400 meter relay (6th)
  • Sydney Meyer
    -Indoor: weight throw (5th)
    -Outdoor: hammer (5th)
  • CJ Muller
    -Indoor: 600 meters (2nd); 4x400 meter relay (6th)
  • Kali Robb
    -Indoor: weight throw (2nd); shot put (8th)
    -Outdoor: hammer (3rd)
  • Jake Rodgers
    -Indoor: 4x400 meter relay (6th)
  • Adrianna Shaw
    -Indoor: shot put (2nd)
  • Bethany Shaw
    -Outdoor: discus (6th)
  • Tricia Svoboda
    -Outdoor: javelin (5th); discus (5th)
  • Lucas Wiechman
    -Indoor: heptathlon (1st); pole vault (3rd); 60 meter hurdles (5th); 4x400 meter relay (6th)
    -Outdoor: pole vault (1st); 400 meter hurdles (5th)

Lurz, McLaughlin named national award winners by the USTFCCCA

USTFCCCA release

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s become a regular occurrence for athletes and staff associated with Concordia’s throws program to earn national awards. On Thursday (June 1), the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) recognized Zach Lurz as the 2017 NAIA National Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and named Ed McLaughlin the 2017 NAIA National Women’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year.

Lurz earned the same national award from the USTFCCCA for his work during the 2016 indoor season. Meanwhile, McLaughlin has collected his fourth national assistant coaching award from the USTFCCCA over the past two seasons.

At last week’s outdoor national championships, Lurz completed his collegiate career with three more All-America awards, giving him 17 as a Bulldog. A native of Chadron, Neb., Lurz took third place in both the shot put and hammer and fourth in the discus. Lurz’s 17 points led the Bulldogs, who finished fifth in the team standings. Also this outdoor season, Lurz won GPAC titles in the hammer and discus and fourth in the shot put. Lurz departs from Concordia as a four-time national champion.

McLaughlin has been the mastermind behind a throws program that has been a major reason for team national titles in 2015 and 2016. In his 20th year as an assistant coach, McLaughlin led his throwers to a total of 12 All-America awards at the 2017 NAIA outdoor championships. Cody Boellstorff (hammer) and Sam Liermann (shot put) both came away with individual national titles. McLaughlin also coached 2016 NAIA National Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year Liz King. Concordia throwers have won 12 national titles under McLaughlin’s tutelage.

Earney hired to coach jumps for Concordia track and field

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia University’s nationally respected track and field programs will have a new full-time member of the assistant coaching staff beginning in 2017-18. Director of Athletics Devin Smith and Head Track and Field Coach Matt Beisel and the program announced the hiring of former University of Sioux Falls assistant coach Wayne Earney on Tuesday (June 13). A graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.), Earney will take the title of Assistant Track & Field Coach – Vertical and Horizontal Jumps/Director of Track & Field Fund Development.

After spending four seasons with the NCAA Division II Cougars, Earney is eager to hit the ground running at Concordia. His official start date is set for July 5.

Said Smith, “Coach Earney's decision to join the Bulldog track and field staff came at a perfect time. With our current staff doing an amazing job of recruiting during this past year, our roster will grow from 98 men and women to an anticipated 130+ student-athletes who will begin a new journey in the fall. Earney’s diverse experiences in coaching and relationship building will help fulfill our vision of providing a first class student-athlete experience, not only for a specific position group, but as a valued member of the Bulldog Athletic Department. The addition of Earney also provides a point person on staff who can focus on fund-development specifically designed for our track and field program’s growth. We are so pleased Coach Earney and his soon-to-be wife Karen will be joining the Bulldog family.”

In a statement, Earney described why Concordia is the right opportunity for him.

“I'm tremendously excited about joining the track and field staff at Concordia,” Earney said. “I cannot wait to be a part of a University that is so passionate and supportive of its track program.  I'm hoping to complement an already national caliber team, by adding my experience in the long and triple jump. My fiancée and I were blown away by how welcoming the university and also the community of Seward were to us. We get married on June 17, and we are very eager to start our lives together in such a great neighborhood.”

Beisel believes the addition of another full-time staff member will help grow programs that took home four more top-10 national finishes in 2017. The full-time assistant coaching staff now includes Earney in addition to Ed McLaughlin and Mark Samuels. Other assistants include Jason Berry and Craig Saalfeld.

“Wayne Earney is an absolute ‘yes!’ answer to many, many prayers for my staff and me,” Beisel said. “As a passionate and highly-trained student of the speed and power development, mechanics, strength training – particularly in the jumps - he fills a huge need for the Concordia University track and field program. He has developed many NCAA D-II jumpers, multi-eventers and sprinters into all-conference and All-American athletes. Before that, he coached multiple high school state champions in the horizontal jumps. His Christ-centered, calm, relational approach is a great match for our athletes and team culture. He will profoundly impact the ability of our entire staff to provide a first class student-athlete experience and enhance the competitiveness of the entire program.”

A native of Steelville, Mo., Earney actually began his professional career as a law enforcement officer in Gardner, Kan., before making a transition. He fell in love with the coaching profession, left law enforcement and spent the next nine years as an assistant track coach at Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kan. During his time in Overland Park, Earney helped mentor athletes that won 22 state medals and six state championships.

Earney moved on to Sioux Falls in November 2013 and remained there through the 2017 seasons. In four seasons, Earney coached athletes to 21 all-conference awards, nine provisional national marks, three national qualifying marks, eight school records and two All-America honors. At Sioux Falls, Earney was responsible for all aspects of training, including technical, physical and mental development.

Earney possesses many professional certifications both in coaching and strength and conditioning. He holds a Jumps Specialist Certification and a Track and Field Technical Certification from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. He also owns a Level 1 Coach certification from USA Track & Field.

A national qualifier and two-time all-conference performer in the long jump as a collegiate athlete, Earney received his degree in criminal justice from MidAmerica Nazarene. He earned a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion from California University of Pennsylvania.

Liermann, Muller tabbed Academic All-Americans by CoSIDA

CoSIDA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Two standouts from Concordia’s nationally recognized track and field programs have earned prestigious honors from College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). On Tuesday (June 20), CoSIDA announced sophomore Sam Liermann and senior CJ Muller as members of the Academic All-America® College Division Track & Field/Cross Country Teams. Both were recognized as first team selections. Muller earned the same honor as a junior in 2016.

The CoSIDA Academic All-America® Track and 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.

Liermann enjoyed a big outdoor season that included championships at both the GPAC and NAIA national meets in the shot put. The native of Wisner, Neb., also placed fifth in the shot put at the 2017 indoor national championships. A transfer from the University of Nebraska, Liermann has already collected four All-America awards as a Bulldog. She is a recreation and sport studies major.

An Omaha native, Muller concluded his collegiate career with six All-America awards. Muller won individual GPAC titles in the 600 meters in each of the last two years. He’s also a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete. Muller ran a leg for the 2015 All-America 4x400 meter relay that clinched the first-ever team national title in the history of Concordia University. The 2015 4x4 group continues to own the school record in the event. Muller earned his degree in biology.

Liermann and Muller are the fourth and fifth Concordia student-athletes to be named CoSIDA Academic All-America selections during the 2016-17 academic year (see list below). Mullers joined Amy Ahlers (golf) and Chandler Folkerts (basketball) as repeat Academic All-Americans.

2016-17 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
*Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Le’Dontrae Gooden, Football
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
*Sam Liermann, Track & Field
*CJ Muller, Track & Field
Lucas Wiechman, Track & Field 

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

Boellstorff, Lurz share State College Male Athlete of the Year honor

Lincoln Journal Star news story

SEWARD, Neb. – Possessing four individual national titles apiece, Cody Boelltstorff and Zach Lurz caught the attention of the Lincoln Journal Star. On Saturday (June 24), the Lincoln news outlet named Concordia’s star throwers as State College Male Co-Athletes of the Year. The two accomplished Bulldogs rose above candidates from all other sports from small colleges throughout the state of Nebraska.

In 2017 alone, Boellstorff won national titles in the weight throw and hammer and Lurz took first in the shot put at the indoor national championships. Lurz was also named by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as the NAIA National Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year. Boellstorff and Lurz were essential members of the 2015 outdoor national championship team.

“The level of commitment they put into trying to become the best throwers they possibly could be and working at it constantly for five years,” assistant coach Ed McLaughlin told the Journal Star. “Once they decided this is what they wanted to do, they committed to it fully and to the point I was telling them to take days off.”

Boellstorff, a native of Waverly, Neb., concluded his career with eight All-America awards, including two at last month’s outdoor national championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. Boellstorff earned a 2017 GPAC title in the weight throw, defending his championship in the same event from 2016. He was rewarded this past year with two national field athlete of the week honors. Boellstorff departs from Concordia with school records in the weight throw (69’ 9”) and hammer throw (216’ 6”).

Lurz completed his collegiate career with three more All-America awards at the 2017 outdoor championships, giving him 17 as a Bulldog. A native of Chadron, Neb., Lurz took third place in both the shot put and hammer and fourth in the discus. Lurz’s 17 points led the Bulldogs, who finished fifth in the national team standings. Also this outdoor season, Lurz won GPAC titles in the hammer and discus and placed fourth in the shot put. Each of Lurz’s four career national titles came in the shot put, an event in which he owns program records for both indoor and outdoor. A nine-time GPAC champion, Lurz was the 2015 NAIA outdoor national championships most valuable performer.

Prior to Boellstorff and Lurz, the most recent male Concordia athlete recipient of the Lincoln Journal Star State College Athlete of the Year award was Jason Jisa (basketball) in 2005. On the women’s side, three track and field athletes from Concordia have been named State College Athlete of the Year during the GPAC era: Liz King (2016), Sarah Kortze (2013) and Molly Engel (2005). Counting Bailey Morris (basketball) in 2015, Concordia has had a male or female State College Athlete of the Year honoree three-straight years.

A pole vault pioneer

Stephanie Tietjen (maiden name Beberniss) made pole vaulting a thing for female athletes at Concordia. The 2003-04 Concordia female senior athlete of the year broke out as the school’s first female superstar in an event that was just becoming popular among women in the early 2000s when Tietjen wore Bulldog blue.

“Stephanie and her teammate Katie Andreason were pioneers for women’s pole vault at Concordia,” said former Bulldog pole vault coach and five-time individual national champion Gene Brooks. “They were the foundation layers and they were so competitive. It was unreal. Stephanie is an awesome person. She’s got this toughness and tenacity. She’s just a strong person and that came out in the way she competed.”

Tietjen and three other individuals were announced as Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2017 inductees in late June. It really was simply a matter of time before Tietjen made her way into the elite grouping. Tietjen remains the only female in school history to win a national title in the pole vault. She accomplished that feat in 2003 when she vaulted to national championships at both the indoor and outdoor meets. That same year she captured GPAC indoor and outdoor titles as part of an incredible run of success.

“I just feel humbled and honored by it,” Tietjen said of her inclusion in the Hall of Fame. “I had great teammates and coaches back when I competed that made this possible. It’s just a big honor.”

A 2004 graduate, Tietjen didn’t even begin pole vaulting until her junior year of high school. The Grand Island native committed late in the game, waiting until after state track as a high school senior to decide to attend Concordia. She chose Concordia after weighing options like Hastings and a walk-on opportunity at the University of Nebraska.

With the help of Brooks’ coaching, Tietjen blossomed at Concordia. Her utter dominance in 2003 made her Hall of Fame selection inevitable. It was a legendary capsule in time that deserves its proper due.

“That was just pure domination,” Brooks said. “I’m not sure that’s ever been duplicated by any athlete here. In the pole vault, little things can throw you off. For her to be able to pull that off was really impressive.”

Brooks likes to rehash the moments before Tietjen won her first national championship. She had been on this stage before, but the nerves seemed to be getting to her on that day. “I’m like, ‘She’s got to settle down,’” Brooks recalls. Overcome by jitters, Tietjen even vomited in a trash can before vaulting in Johnson City, Tenn. “It’s over. She’s done,” Brooks thought. When the competition began, she snapped into focus, jumped a school record 12’ 6” and took the title.

“2003 was a little bit of a whirlwind for me,” Tietjen said. “It was a shock. The indoor meet was kind of a bummer. I did well, but I had a couple teammates that no-heighted. They were neck-and-neck with me and really pushed me. Winning the national championship was awesome because I didn’t expect it. I went in with one of the top heights, but I know there were some other women up there. Pole vault is unpredictable. Anything can happen.”

To truly appreciate the level that Tietjen ascended to requires some perspective. Ironically, Tietjen’s former school records have been broken by Gene’s daughter Allie Brooks. However, Tietjen’s competitive greatness was especially impressive when comparing her to other female pole vaulters of the early 2000s. After funneling most of her athletic energy into gymnastics in her youth, Tietjen made an incredibly smooth transition. Jumping over 12 feet placed Tietjen among the very best women’s pole vaulters at any level of collegiate athletics.

“To have gone 12-6 in 2003 was big time,” Brooks said. “That was Division I level. Because the sport was so new to women, going 12-6 then is about the equivalent of going 14-6 today, I would say.”

Tietjen’s lasting legacy is more than just about athletics. Concordia served as a venue for her to “come into her faith.” It’s the place where she met her future husband Eric, then a member of the football team, and soaked up life lessons from Brooks and many others.

“That was huge for me,” Tietjen said. “Gene was like my dad away from home. We spent a lot of time and a lot of hours practicing. I don’t think it was until I had a family that I fully appreciated his sacrifices as a mentor and coach for young people. We had numerous conversations about faith. I’ll never forget them.”

Those conversations helped build up Tietjen, who became a big winner in the pole vault and in life. Mental toughness and intense training hours allowed her to develop into a champion.

“You spend the time with them and you know the sacrifices they make,” Brooks said. “There are countless repetitions and drills and countless setbacks, heartbreaks, failures and disappointments. To continue on and for it to end in a way like it did for Stephanie – it’s the best. It’s so, so thrilling.”

A trailblazer for Concordia women’s pole vault, Tietjen becomes even more admirable when considering how well she puts aspects of life into their proper perspective.

Says Tietjen, “Though the awards were big honors, that’s not what I remember. It’s the people and the relationships that were formed. It was influential in the rest of my life.”