Bulldog Athletic Association Athletes of the Week: Due to the absence of the weekly BAAM meetings, Athletes of the Week will not be announced. BAAM meetings have been canceled for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year.
News and notes:
20 memorable happenings in 2020: The year 2020 will be remembered for many reasons. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Concordia Athletics made the most of a year that included plenty of positive happenings. We recounted 20 memorable items from the year 2020 in a feature piece that can be read HERE.
Cheer and dance teams prepared to begin competition season: Head Coach Mandi Maser is ready to lead the Cheer and Dance programs into competition season. Both teams will open things up in 2021 by taking on Mount Marty in Yankton, S.D., on Wednesday. The cheer and dance dual meets will take place in conjunction with basketball games that evening. For a detailed look at what is to come, check out our season previews by visiting the cheer and dance pages of the Concordia Athletics website. This will mark Maser’s fifth season as head coach. In 2020, the Bulldogs turned in GPAC place finishes of sixth (of 11) in dance in sixth (of 7) in cheer. Maser was named the GPAC Cheer Coach of the Year while then freshman Katie Anderson garnered honorable mention All-GPAC accolades in dance.
Update to fan attendance policy (enacted in late December): As of late December 2020, the fan attendance policy regarding indoor sporting events has changed at CUNE. In accordance with Directed Health Measures released by the state of Nebraska, Concordia has increased fan attendance in indoor facilities to 50 percent capacity. Please note that spectators will not be permitted to attend indoor track and field meets (per GPAC policy). For additional details on how to purchase tickets to Bulldog Athletic events, see the paragraph below regarding HomeTown ticketing.
HomeTown Ticketing and Fan protocols for home events: Fans who plan to attend Concordia Athletics home events are advised to read through our protocols HERE. All fans are expected to self-screen and are required to wear masks while viewing contests in either Bulldog Stadium or Walz Arena. Non-family members are welcome to be present on our campus during these contests. Fans are also encouraged to order advance tickets through HomeTown Ticketing. By purchasing tickets online, fans are guaranteed entrance on game days. Concordia is allowing 75 percent capacity in outdoor venues and 50 percent capacity in indoor venues.
Bulldog Coaches Show airs every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. CT: The Bulldog Coaches Show is underway in its fifth year of existence. The show airs live for a half hour every Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT on KTMX-FM 104.9 Max Country. The weekly feature can also be heard live via 104.9 Max Country’s website or by downloading the Max Country app. Throughout the 2020-21 season, Bulldog football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball contests will be aired live on Max Country. Evan Jones serves as the host of the coaches’ show as well as the play-by-play voice for football and basketball. Frank Greene is in his sixth season calling Concordia volleyball.
Concordia Sports Network: Live webcasts for most home varsity contests can be accessed by visiting https://www.cune.edu/athletics/watch-bulldogs at game time. Beginning in 2019-20, Concordia Athletics partnered with PrestoSports for live video and statistical streaming. For more details on this change, click HERE. Check team schedules/results pages for webcast dates. Scrimmages, exhibitions and junior varsity events are not broadcasted.
· GPAC play carried on as the Bulldogs ventured to the Corn Palace before returning home as part of last week’s action. In a fast-paced contest in Mitchell, S.D., Concordia fell at Dakota Wesleyan, 85-80, on Jan. 6. Three days later, the Bulldogs bounced back and rallied from a double-digit deficit for a 67-61 home victory over Jamestown. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad continues to reside in the thick of things near the top of the league at 10-4 in conference play (11-6 overall). For more information on Concordia Women’s Basketball, click HERE.
· Things have been a grind at times, but the Bulldogs impressively regrouped after an 0-3 start to this season. Those losses pushed Concordia off the radar. It did not receive votes at all in the NAIA national poll released on Dec. 16. However, the Bulldogs may be in better position than what the poll would indicate. The NAIA will soon release an initial set of RPI rankings, which are likely to be more favorable to Concordia, which is ranked No. 10 in the NAIA by Massey Ratings. The Bulldogs challenged themselves outside the league by playing teams ranked by Massey at No. 3 (Carroll College), No. 17 (Dakota State) and No. 112 (Peru State).
· Recent battles between Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan have been heated at times, but the Bulldogs have been dominant in the rivalry. Prior to last week, Concordia had won nine of the previous 10 meetings. The one exception was the 2018 NAIA Division II national title game won by the Tigers. The current DWU team seems to be on the rise having won three in a row and five of its last six. The Tigers shot 52.5 percent from the floor while holding off the Bulldogs last week. Haidyn Pitsch led the way with 25 points.
· In the loss, star guard Taylor Cockerill enjoyed one of the top offensive outings of her career. She went off for 33 points (tying a season high) on 12-for-19 shooting from the floor. It marked the third time that Cockerill has scored more than 30 points in a game in her career. The Waverly High School product once scored 40 in a game as a sophomore (second most by a player in a single game in program history). Last week Cockerill passed former teammate Mary Janovich for 21st on the program’s all-time scoring list. Cockerill has piled up 1,175 points in 92 games as a Bulldog.
· The matchup with Jamestown marked the 10th time that Olson has gone head-to-head with former Concordia teammate Thad Sankey as opposing head coaches. This contest had more offense than the previous meeting (a 55-50 Bulldog win in North Dakota), but Concordia had to overcome its 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. The key sequence came right after halftime when the Bulldogs used a 22-2 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a 12-point lead (49-37). Three Concordia players scored in double figures: Cockerill (14), Taysha Rushton (12) and Bailey Conrad (10).
· Olson picked up his 396th career victory last week. Entering the 2020-21 season, Olson ranked 14th among active NAIA women’s basketball coaches in terms of overall number of wins. Out of the top 25 coaches listed, only two entered the campaign with a higher winning percentage than Olson (396-104). It hasn’t taken long for Olson to knock on the door of 400. He picked up his 300th career victory on Jan. 10, 2018. The very first victory for Olson as a head coach came on Nov. 2, 2006, with a 56-51 decision at York College.
· The program has welcomed a couple of transfers to the roster. Millard West High School alum Chaise Pfanstiel made her debut last week and saw action in both games. A standout in both basketball and soccer as a prep athlete, Pfanstiel began her collegiate career at NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri State University. Pfanstiel notched her first career points at Concordia with a trey versus Jamestown. Guard Abby Aplaca has also been added to the mix. The native of Waipahu, Hawaii, played at Concordia University, Portland before the school shut down.
· Junior Mackenzie Koepke continues to fill up the stat sheet. The Lincoln Lutheran alum has developed as a shot blocker as she makes use of her length. Koepke blocked four shots at Dakota Wesleyan and posted three rejections versus Jamestown. Koepke also contributed three steals at DWU and grabbed nine rebounds against Jamestown. On the season, Koepke is averaging 7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.0 block per game.
· The Bulldogs will be back on the road on Wednesday with a trip to Mount Marty (3-12, 1-11 GPAC) for a 6 p.m. CT tipoff. The two sides also met on Dec. 30 with the result being a 98-53 Concordia win. Then on Saturday, Concordia will take its shot at first-place and 14th-ranked Morningside (13-2, 11-1 GPAC). Tipoff from Friedrich Arena is set for 2 p.m. The Mustangs won the first matchup, 86-67, in Sioux City, Iowa.
· It was another up and down week for the Bulldogs, who have shown an ability to play with any team in the league. A little bit better shooting performance and Concordia may have been 2-0 last week. It dropped a 70-64 decision at No. 18 Dakota Wesleyan on Jan. 6. The Bulldogs rebounded at home with an 81-70 victory over Jamestown on Jan. 9. Those results leave Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad at 12-6 overall and at 9-4 in league play (fourth place). For more information on Concordia Men’s Basketball, click HERE.
· The Bulldogs went a full month between home games. After they toppled Mount Marty, 82-71, inside Friedrich Arena on Dec. 9, they waited until this past Saturday to play at home once again. Concordia went 2-4 over a six-game road swing with several near misses, including the loss at Dakota Wesleyan and the 89-87 overtime defeat at Jamestown. The Bulldogs avenged that loss to the Jimmies and have now won 12 in a row at home. On the season, Concordia is 7-0 at home and 5-6 in road/neutral games.
· In the conference standings, the Bulldogs are behind only Dakota Wesleyan (9-1), Morningside (9-2) and Jamestown (8-3). Considering Concordia will play five of its last seven regular-season games at home, it may still be in position to contend for the GPAC regular-season title. Massey Ratings judges the GPAC to be a strong conference. It shows six GPAC squads ranked in the NAIA top 25: No. 8 Morningside, No. 13 Dakota Wesleyan, No. 15 Northwestern, No. 16 Dordt, No. 20 Concordia and No. 25 Jamestown.
· Junior Carter Kent put up a combined 33 points last week while pushing himself past 1,000 career points. He is now the 32nd player in program history to join the 1,000-point club. It took Kent 82 career games to reach that mark. He is averaging 14.6 points per game this season and 12.2 per game for his career. This season, the Crete High School product is also averaging career highs in rebounds (4.0), assists (2.8) and steals (1.1). Kent’s 1,013 career points are most among current Bulldogs.
· Justin Wiersema reserves a bullet point each week for his consistency alone. Few players bring the tenacity Wiersema displays from game-to-game. He also continues to be one of the most efficient backcourt scorers in the nation. In last week’s action, Wiersema posted a combined 33 points while going 13-for-19 from the floor. His season field goal percentage of 58.6 is unusually high for a guard. Among GPAC players, Wiersema ranks fourth in scoring (17.1), fourth in steals per game (1.67) and fifth in field goal percentage (first among guards).
· The return of big production from Gage Smith gave Concordia a significant boost against Jamestown. At times this season, Smith has been limited due to foul trouble. When he can avoid such issues, he’s proven to be a force. The Elizabeth, Colo., native notched 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals against the Jimmies. The 22 points represented a career high. Smith ranks third in the GPAC with an average of 9.2 rebounds per game.
· Every Jamestown opponent has to figure out a plan for dealing with mega star Mason Walters. The GPAC leader in scoring and rebounding, Walters posted 38 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting with Concordia. This time around, Walters was ‘limited’ to 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting. The Bulldogs have now won three of the past four battles with the Jimmies, who escaped Midland with a 49-47 victory two days before playing in Seward. Also notable about the win over Jamestown, Concordia held a rebounding edge (31-30) against one of the nation’s best rebounding teams.
· The trip to the Corn Palace marked the first appearance at that venue since the Bulldogs clipped the Tigers, 68-66, in the 2020 GPAC tournament championship game. Clearly the atmosphere was not quite the same in a time of limited crowds due to COVID-19. Concordia was held by DWU to 35.5 percent shooting. Only Wiersema (17) and Kent (13) reached double figures in the defeat. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Schuch recorded 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting for the victors. The Tigers pushed their win streak to 13 at the time.
· Concordia will go on the road on Wednesday to take on Mount Marty (7-10, 4-8 GPAC) in what will be an 8 p.m. CT tipoff in Yankton, S.D. It may seem like the Bulldogs could hardly get comfortable at home, but the home games are coming. Concordia will host No. 8 Morningside (13-2, 9-2 GPAC) at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Bulldogs played perhaps their worst game of the season in an 86-64 loss at Morningside on Dec. 12.
· The Bulldogs ended an idle stretch and opened up 2021 by competing at the Hastings Cusatis Open on Jan. 9. Concordia was joined at Lynn Farrell Arena by 12 other institutions, including seven GPAC foes. A dozen Bulldogs combined for 22 wins, 10 pins and a pair of place finishes. Head Coach Levi Calhoun’s squad had last competed at its own Concordia Bulldog Duals on Dec. 19. Concordia owns a dual record of 3-5 (2-1 GPAC) and has competed in four tournaments. For more information on Bulldog Wrestling, click HERE.
· Junior Issiah Burks and senior Gabe Crawford highlighted Concordia’s efforts with individual place finishes. Both standouts had sat out at the Concordia Bulldog Duals. Burks resumed his season with a 5-1 day. After falling to the NAIA’s sixth-ranked 157-pounder (Giovanni Bonilla of Grand View-Iowa) in his first match of the day, Burks responded with five-straight wins on the backside of the 157-pound bracket. Three of those victories came by fall – all against GPAC competition. Burks (Hemet, Calif.) finished in third place and ran his season record to 17-6 (second most wins on the team).
· Meanwhile, Crawford made his way to the Hastings Open championship match at 165 pounds. A returning GPAC champion, Crawford wrestled only four matches during the first semester. He got into a groove this past Saturday by claiming victories in his first three matches. In the semifinals, Crawford defeated Grand View’s Scott Betterton, 5-2. Crawford made a strong run at a championship in his tussle with Arizona Christian University’s Andrew Torres, who got the win in sudden victory.
· At the heavyweight position, freshman Jacob Telles has been an immediate force in Calhoun’s lineup. The native of Albuquerque, N.M., came up just short of a place finish at the Hastings Open. He went 3-2 with each of his wins coming via pin. Telles (21-7) leads the team in victories this season and is ranked No. 18 in the NAIA at 285. He has also collected nine pins this season. Telles owns three tournament place finishes: second at the Dakota Wesleyan Open, third at the York Open and fifth at the Doane Open.
· Burks, Crawford and Telles were three of six Bulldogs with multiple victories at the Hastings Open. The others to join the group were Tavoris Smith (2-2 at 165), Oscar Ramirez-Garcia (2-2 at 184) and Cyrus Marshall (3-2 at 184). One victory each was claimed by Carter Willis (125), Jose Sanchez (157), Timothy Huber (174) and Mason Garcia (197).
· New conference and NAIA national rankings were unveiled last week. Ranked fourth in the GPAC as team, Concordia boasts eight individuals who are listed among the top six in the conference at their respective weights. Mario Ybarra continues to hold down the No. 1 ranking at 133 while Burks (157) and Telles (285) appear at No. 2. On the national level, Ybarra (No. 7 at 133) and Telles (No. 18 at 285) are both ranked in the top 20 of their weight classes. The Bulldogs are listed as “receiving votes” in the NAIA team rankings.
· Five Concordia wrestlers have accumulated 10 or more wins this season: Telles (21-7), Burks (17-6), Garcia (13-8), Ybarra (12-1) and Jeaven Scdoris (10-11). Ybarra had this past weekend off but will compete again this Saturday. The native of Scottsbluff, Neb., owns a 12-match win streak since dropping his first battle of the season. Ybarra went 4-0 at the Concordia Bulldog Duals in his most recent action. Burks owns the team lead with 10 pins.
· To recap the season to date, the Bulldogs have had eight duals. They have defeated Dakota Wesleyan, Midland and Oklahoma Wesleyan University. The losses have come at the hands of York College, Morningside, Arizona Christian University, Montana State University-Northern and Texas Wesleyan University. Montana State-Northern is currently ranked 17th in the NAIA. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Concordia is a combined 43-5 in GPAC duals.
· The Bulldogs will go head-to-head with three opponents on Saturday at Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa. Concordia will dual host Northwestern at 11 a.m., Dickinson State University (N.D.) at 12:30 p.m. and Waldorf University (Iowa) at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs will have the weekend of Jan. 22-23 off due to the cancellation of the Missouri Valley Invite. Heading into the weekend, Concordia has eight duals and one tournament remaining on the regular-season schedule.
Track & Field
· The track and field program has been in the midst of a scheduled break in the action since it hosted the Concordia Early Bird Meet on Dec. 4-5. The indoor season is set to resume along with the start of the second semester. Head Coach Matt Beisel’s Bulldogs came away from the Early Bird meet with 23 marks that met the criteria for inclusion on the NAIA national list. For more information on Concordia Track & Field, click HERE.
· Of those 23 marks put on the board, nine were automatic national qualifiers, another nine were ‘B’ standard national marks and five met the minimum national standard in the heptathlon/pentathlon. Those marks are listed below.
o Men’s 4x400 meter relay, B (3:19.01)
o Women’s 4x400 meter relay, B (3:58.93)
o Anna Baack – pole vault, A (11’ 6 ½”)
o Rachel Battershell – 400 meters, A (56.71)
o Chase Berry – pole vault, B (15’ 3”)
o Jamey Broman – long jump, A (18’ 5”)
o Morgan De Jong – weight throw, A (55’ 2”)
o Sarah Lewis – 60 hurdles, A (8.93); 400 meters, B (58.31)
o Emily Loy – pentathlon (3,146)
o Colton Meyer – 60 hurdles, A (8.17); 400 meters, B (48.91)
o Kennedy Mogul – pentathlon (3,112)
o Cora Olson – long jump, B (18’ 1”)
o Josie Puelz – pole vault, A (12’ 6 ¼”)
o Sarah Ragland – weight throw, B (51’ 11”)
o Jeremiah Reeser – heptathlon (4,449)
o Amy Richert – pentathlon (3,137)
o Xavier Ross – 400 meters, A (48.09)
o Katie Severt – long jump, A (18’ 7 ¼”)
o Cody Williams – pole vault, B (15’ 3”); heptathlon (5,006)
o Chris Wren – weight throw, B (53’ 5”)
· A return to action will come on Saturday when the Scott Nisely Invite (hosted by Doane) and Dakota Wesleyan Invite are set to unfold. The Bulldogs will gear up to host another meet on Jan. 22 (Concordia Polar Dog Invite). Fans of Concordia Track and Field and NAIA track and field can follow nationally reported marks all season long via the TFRRS website: https://www.tfrrs.org/lists/3156.html.
· Former All-American Ben Hinckfoot is now officially on the job as an assistant coach. He joins Beisel’s staff, which also includes full-time coaches Ed McLaughlin and Mark Samuels. Beisel sees Hinckfoot as the perfect fit to replace former assistant Wayne Earney. Not only did Hinckfoot collect seven All-America honors as a Bulldog athlete, he also racked up four GPAC event titles, 17 all-conference finishes and two CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team selections. He continues to own the program record in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 52.14.
· For a review of what took place at the Early Bird meet, check out the meet recap HERE. In other track and field news, Anna Baack was profiled in mid-December in a feature that can be read HERE. Baack has locked up a spot at the NAIA national championships for the first time since her freshman year. It should also be noted that the NAIA has announced a change in venue for the 2021 indoor national championships. The meet is now scheduled to be held on the Mount Marty campus and take place March 3-6.