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 now been canceled for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year.
News and notes:
Cheer places fourth, dance finishes fifth at 2021 GPAC/NAIA Northwest Qualifier Championships: The competition seasons culminated this past weekend for the Concordia Cheer and Dance teams, which put forth the most successful campaigns in the short histories of the two programs. As part of the GPAC/NAIA Northwest Group Qualifier Championships, dance placed fifth in the region (fourth in the GPAC) while cheer placed fourth. Both performances represented improvement in both placement and scores from the championships held one year ago. Head Coach Mandi Maser’s squads competed in a series of duals and large-scale competitions since the season began on Jan. 13. One highlight was the second-place claims cheer/dance earned at the third annual Concordia Invite. For more information on the cheer and dance programs, click the following links: Cheer | Dance.
Faith, family, elite competition fuel women’s track dominance: The run that the Concordia University Women’s Track and Field program has put together does not happen by accident. The Bulldogs reached the pinnacle in 2016 when they raised the NAIA outdoor national championship banner, but never before have they been so thoroughly dominant in comparison to their conference rivals. On Feb. 20, Head Coach Matt Beisel’s program celebrated a women’s conference title for the fourth-straight GPAC meet. For more on the special nature of the program, click HERE.
Shooting Sports resumes 2020-21 season at Lindenwood Invitational: For the first time since October, the Concordia University Shooting Sports team competed in an official event. While in action at the Lindenwood University Invitational over the weekend (Feb. 27-28), the Bulldogs placed third high overall (HOA) amongst the eight teams present at a windy Gateway Gun Club in St. Louis, Mo. Scores were tabulated from three separate shooting disciplines. Six Bulldogs placed in the top 10 individuals for either men or women. For more information on Concordia Shooting Sports, click HERE.
Beisel, Battershell earn high honors as part of newsy week for track & field: A large number of awards officially rolled in last week for the Concordia Track & Field program. Head Coach Matt Beisel was named the GPAC and NAIA Midwest Region Women’s Coach of the Year while junior Rachel Battershell was recognized for the GPAC Track Performance of the Meet. A total of 51 Bulldogs earned all-conference honors and 38 individuals were announced as national qualifiers. Visit the track & field page of the Concordia website for more details: https://www.cune.edu/athletics/teams/track-and-field.
Upcoming fall sport games: That’s right, fall sports will play official games this spring due to the postponements of the conference and national tournaments (now scheduled for April). Head Coach Thomas Goines’ women’s soccer team is prepping to play at Southwestern College (Kan.) at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Head Coach Ben Boldt’s volleyball squad was originally slated to play at Bellevue University on Wednesday, but that match has been canceled and will not be rescheduled. Here is the next date on the schedule for Concordia soccer and volleyball teams:
-Women’s Soccer: March 6 at Southwestern College (Kan.), 2 p.m.
-Volleyball: March 17 vs. Ottawa University (Kan.), 7 p.m.
-Men’s Soccer: March 20 at Benedictine College (Kan.), 3:30 p.m.
Current fan attendance policy: In accordance with Directed Health Measures released by the state of Nebraska, Concordia continues to allow 50 percent capacity in indoor facilities. 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. Parker Cyza serves as the host of the coaches’ show as well as the play-by-play voice for 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.
· The 2020-21 season has come to an end for the Bulldogs, who were unable to duplicate their 2020 GPAC tournament magic. As the No. 5 seed in the GPAC, Concordia fell at fourth-seeded Dakota Wesleyan, 70-58, in the conference tournament quarterfinals on Feb. 24. It was a rough offensive performance as the Bulldogs shot 37.0 percent from the floor and trailed by as many as 24 points at the Corn Palace. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad concluded the season with an overall record of 17-9. For more information on Concordia Men’s Basketball, click HERE.
· Somehow it always feels like the program’s postseason life comes down to the outcome of a game at the Corn Palace. Concordia exorcised some of its demons last March when it held off the Tigers, 68-66, in the GPAC tournament championship game in Mitchell, S.D. However, the Bulldogs have seen their season ended at the Palace in the GPAC quarterfinals four times in recent years – 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2021. DWU proceeded to fall in double overtime to eighth seed Mount Marty in last week’s GPAC semifinals.
· Despite last week’s frustrations, Concordia put together an overall solid season. The 14 GPAC regular season wins tied a program record for most conference victories in a single season while the share of third place represented the program’s best GPAC regular season finish since 2004-05 (second). Other than the one loss to Morningside, the Bulldogs were downright dominant at home (11-1). Concordia defeated eight GPAC opponents by double-digit margins when playing inside Friedrich Arena. It also was the only team to defeat Northwestern twice this season.
· Three individuals in particular are expected to earn all-conference honors when the GPAC announces them on Wednesday. Loveland, Colo., native Justin Wiersema developed into one of the top handful of players in the entire league while posting career highs in scoring (16.4), rebounds (5.0), assists (3.0) and steals per game (1.6). Not only that, Wiersema is one of the most efficient guards in the GPAC. He shot 55.6 percent from the field (best among GPAC guards). He also reached double figures in scoring in all 26 games (streak of 28 games in a row dating back to last season).
· Gage Smith blossomed in 2020-21 and could also land on the GPAC’s first team. He averaged 13.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game as one of the league’s top frontcourt players. Smith proved he could score inside and out, as evidenced by his 3-point shooting percentage of 35.7. His signature performance was a 32-point outburst in the home win over Dakota Wesleyan on Feb. 6. His breakout campaign came after he averaged 4.7 points and 4.5 rebounds as a sophomore.
· Crete High School product Carter Kent put together a fine junior season that saw him heat up in the back half of the campaign. He wound up averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game (all career highs). He also shot 40.4 percent from the floor and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. He turned in a season/career high of 29 points in the win at Mount Marty on Jan. 13. Kent will enter the 2021-22 season having piled up 1,145 career points. Kent is on pace to become the ninth player in program history to reach 1,500 career points.
· From an eligibility standpoint, the 2020-21 season did not count against anyone on the current roster. In other words, the student-athletes listed as seniors would be eligible to play again next season. Such decisions on whether to return or move on will be announced when appropriate. The class of seniors that was celebrated on senior day included Ryan Holt, Sam Scarpelli, Grant Wragge and Thomas Young. Holt and Scarpelli started alongside Kent, Smith and Wiersema. Holt averaged 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
· The prospects for 2021-22 appear to be promising with the trio of Kent, Smith and Wiersema all returning. With that kind of firepower coming back, Concordia will likely have aspirations of reaching the national tournament and perhaps competing to win the program’s first-ever GPAC regular season title. The Bulldogs may need to replace Scarpelli at point guard and continuing to develop their post players. Concordia could be in line to be picked near the top of the GPAC preseason poll.
· For the fifth year in a row, the Bulldogs are headed to the GPAC tournament championship game. Concordia advanced to the conference final while defending its home court against Dakota Wesleyan, 70-58, in the quarterfinals and Northwestern, 83-70, in the semifinals. The Bulldogs have played each of their last 14 GPAC postseason contests at home, a run that will end tonight (March 2) with the contest taking place at Morningside. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has moved to 20-7 overall (finished at 17-5 in the GPAC regular season). For more information on Concordia Women’s Basketball, click HERE.
· The two contests last week were different in style with DWU turning the quarterfinal into more of a grinder. The Bulldogs held a first-half lead of 16 points, but that margin was cut all the way down to two (57-55) before Concordia responded with a critical 6-0 run. Freshman Taysha Rushton poured in 19 points (8-for-10 from the foul line) while Rylee Pauli posted 16 points and seven rebounds and Sadie Powell chipped in 10 points off the bench. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to 31.0 percent shooting (the Bulldogs were slightly better at 37.1 percent). According to DWU Head Coach Jason Christensen, this was the matchup his team wanted in the postseason. It got it – and now its season is over.
· Concordia may have played its best half of the entire season in the GPAC semifinals when it blitzed Northwestern. The Bulldogs took a 47-25 lead to the break thanks to shooting 47.4 percent from the field (the Red Raiders shot 28.1 percent over the first 20 minutes). The Concordia backcourt took control of the game. The trio of Rushton, Taylor Cockerill and Bailey Conrad combined for 49 points (16-for-34 from the field), 14 rebounds, 11 assists and just three turnovers. All three standouts played at least 28 minutes.
· One streak is now guaranteed to endure into next season. The Bulldogs have won 17-straight GPAC tournament home games dating back to the 2013 conference semifinals. In addition, Concordia has won 14-consecutive conference postseason games overall. Concordia is the No. 2 seed in the GPAC after having earned the No. 1 seed in each of the previous four seasons. The Bulldogs will play in a GPAC tournament title game for the ninth time in program history (seventh time under Olson).
· In addition, Concordia has clinched a bid to the national tournament for the 10th year in a row. Currently ranked 17th in the NAIA coaches’ poll, the Bulldogs would have been a strong at-large candidate anyway, but the automatic berth kicked in when Morningside (regular season champion) advanced to the GPAC title game. The league’s two automatic bids are handed out to the regular season champion and the GPAC tournament champion (or runner up if the same team wins the regular season/postseason titles). Concordia has qualified for nationals for the 20th time in program history.
· Rushton really isn’t a freshman at this point, considering she’s started 27 games and has played in 733 minutes this season. The native of Lubbock, Texas, has turned things up a notch in the postseason. She scored 19 versus DWU and 21 versus Northwestern while going a combined 6-for-14 from 3-point range and 10-for-12 from the free throw line. Rushton may end up being the GPAC Freshman of the Year. Her season scoring average of 13.9 is the second highest for a freshman during Olson’s tenure (Quinn Wragge ranks No. 1).
· Taylor Cockerill may end up with some form of All-America recognition. She posted 18 points, six assists and six rebounds in the GPAC semifinal win. That performance pushed her career scoring total to 1,303 (16th most in program history). Cockerill is averaging 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game while contributing in all aspects of the game. The Waverly High School product was named first team All-GPAC and an honorable mention All-American for the 2018-19 team that won the national championship.
· From a statistical standpoint, Concordia may not have a first or second team All-GPAC honoree after Cockerill and Rushton. However, it’s not a knock to have a balanced team. Off the bench, Taylor Farrell (7.6 ppg) is the team’s third leading scorer as a 3-point sniper. Meanwhile, Mackenzie Koepke (7.4) and Pauli (6.9) are not far behind. Pauli has totaled a combined 27 points over the first two rounds of the GPAC tournament. Koepke earned second team honors last season as a sophomore.
· The Bulldogs will aim for a fifth GPAC tournament title in a row tonight (March 2) with action set to tip off at 7 p.m. CT at seventh-ranked Morningside (25-2). The Mustangs won both matchups during the regular season, but Concordia had its chances in the 66-64 home loss on Jan. 16. No matter the result, the Bulldogs know they will hear their name called during the NAIA women’s basketball selection show set for 6 p.m. on Thursday. The opening round of the national tournament will be played March 12-13.
· At long last, the baseball season is underway. The Bulldogs played six times last week while returning to action for the first time in nearly 350 days. The season opened up on Feb. 23 when Concordia defeated both York College and Missouri Baptist University in Kansas City, Mo. The Bulldogs then took three of four at College of the Ozarks in a weekend series (Feb. 26-27). Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has started out 5-1 while allowing a grand total of 11 runs. For more information on Concordia Baseball, click HERE.
· Expectations are understandably high for the program after it went 14-7 during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. The Bulldogs begin this season ranked first in the GPAC while also receiving votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll. Concordia returns the bulk of its key players from a year ago, with some notable exceptions such as Milwaukee Brewers signee Jason Munsch as well as position players in Wade Council and Thomas Sautel. On the other hand, five seniors are taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NAIA.
· Over the course of the first six games, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 38-11. The depth of the pitching staff has been early theme. Dupic has already called upon 12 different pitchers (four different starters) with impressive results. In 41 innings as a staff, Concordia pitchers own a 1.98 ERA, have recorded 60 strikeouts and have held opposing hitters to a .183 batting average. This team has a chance to be special if it rivals what the 2019 squad did by posting a 2.31 ERA in conference games.
· The addition of Trent Wood is clearly one that will help strength the pitching staff even further. The native of Troy, Ohio, previously played at NAIA Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Ohio) and had a 3.09 ERA in 166 innings (129 strikeouts). Under Dupic’s watchful eye, Wood seems poised to harness his stuff and boost his strikeout rate. In his first two starts as a Bulldog, Wood has struck out 15 hitters while allowing just one run on four hits in 8.2 innings.
· New hitting coach Caleb Lang has a solid group to work with. The bats figure to heat up as the weather does, but the early returns were encouraging. Concordia scorched York with 15 runs on 18 hits and eight walks in the season opener. Jayden Adams went 4-for-4 out of the leadoff spot while Joey Grabanski went 3-for-3 with three doubles and four RBIs in the blowout. Six Bulldogs collected at least two hits as part of the onslaught.
· Over the first six games, Concordia is slashing .315/.398/.494 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and has totaled 10 doubles, a triple and six home runs. Five Bulldogs have gone deep at least once: Adams, Evan Bohman, Keaton Candor, Jesse Garcia and Grabanski. Adams has begun the campaign 10-for-18 (.556) with three doubles, a home run and 10 runs scored. Grabanski has also been impressive in going 9-for-20 right out of the gate as a freshman. Meanwhile, Candor went 6-for-11 over the weekend.
· Perhaps the stolen base will be a more significant part of the offensive attack in 2021. The Bulldogs have swiped 17 bases (on 20 attempts). As a pinch runner, Scott has been responsible for eight of those steals. As a comparison, the 2019 GPAC championship team stole 39 bases during a 53-game season. Last season’s squad stole 24 bases in 21 games.
· Concordia will return to action this Saturday and Sunday for a four-game series with Grand View University (Iowa). Doubleheaders on both days are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CT at a neutral site in Sabetha, Kan. The Bulldogs played four games last year at the same location and won each of them against Waldorf University (Iowa).
· After having postponed/canceled games scheduled for Feb. 13 and 20, the Bulldogs finally got the 2021 season started last week with doubleheaders at Benedictine College (Kan.) and at Bethany College (Kan.). Concordia swept both opponents with three of them being decided in nail-biting fashion. The Bulldogs ended the weekend with a 10-0 run-rule victory over Bethany to move to 4-0. Head Coach Shawn Semler’s program is coming off a 12-2 COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. For more information on Concordia Softball, click HERE.
· Dating back to last season, the Bulldogs have won 16 of the last 18 games. Expectations are high as Concordia opened up 2021 ranked second in the conference while also receiving votes in the NAIA national poll. Semler owns a record of 44-14 since taking over the program prior to the start of the 2019 season. With a wealth of veteran talent on board, the Bulldogs could end up cracking the NAIA top 25 for the first time since 1998. Hhana Haro, Tori Homolka and Camry Moore have each been named first or second team all-conference in the past.
· Moore sizzled in the circle in her first start of the 2021 season. Benedictine managed to put up four runs late in the game (two unearned), but it spend most of the time flailing away at Moore’s offerings. She finished with a career high 15 strikeouts in a seven-inning complete game performance. That strikeout total is the highest for a Concordia pitcher going as far back as the Dakstats database (2006-present). Four other Bulldogs during that stretch registered 14 strikeouts in one game: Amanda Beeson, Sarah Bergen, Amanda Hehn and Nicole Sempek.
· The one-two pitching combo of Moore and freshman Jerzi Rowe has been stellar through the first four games. Moore has thrown a total of 14.2 innings and has allowed four earned runs on 13 hits and five walks to go along with 24 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Rowe is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12.1 innings. A native of Gretna, Neb., Rowe spent three years of her high school career at Millard South before ending up at Gretna. She was part of a state championship team in 2016.
· This could be the real breakout year for second baseman Kylee Nixon, who leads the team with seven hits. She’s gone 7-for-15 with five runs scored, two doubles, a home run and three RBIs. The career numbers are impressive for the York High School product, who has batted .411 with 17 extra-base hits in 51 career collegiate games. Nixon pounded out five hits in the doubleheader sweep at Bethany.
· Haro’s bat (2-for-14 to start the season) figures to quickly heat up. The native of Garden Grove, Calif., has performed at a level that places her among the greatest hitters in program history. Haro owns a career batting average of .459 to go along with 34 doubles, 13 home runs and 88 RBIs in 97 games. Haro now ranks in a tie for 10th in program history with 153 career hits. The school record is 227 by Mindy Evans (1996-99).
· Through four games, Concordia has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 24-10. The Bulldogs are batting .287 with a .452 slugging percentage while collecting eight doubles, a triple and a home run. The pitching staff has posted a collective ERA of 2.00. In the 14 games Concordia played in 2020, it outnumbered its foes, 114-41, during a dominant run. The Bulldogs pounded 26 doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs last spring.
· Between now and the next Weekly Report, Concordia will play six games, all of which will come at the Friends University Invitational (March 5-7). The Bulldogs will play twice on each day in the event set to take place in Wichita, Kan. The opponents will include Tabor College (Kan.), University of Saint Mary (Kan.), Avila University (Mo.), Bethel College (Kan.), Friends University (Kan.) and Dakota State University (S.D.).
· For the second Saturday in a row, the men’s and women’s teams went head-to-head with a nonconference opponent. This past weekend (Feb. 27), the Bulldogs stayed closer to home while welcoming Bethany College (Kan.) to Genesis Racquet Club in Lincoln, Neb. The team scores were identical as Concordia won the men’s and women’s matches 5-2. Head Coach David DeSimone’s men’s and women’s teams are both 3-0 this 2020-21 season. For more information on Bulldog Tennis: Men | Women.
· The duo of Jack Kitson and Eduardo Rojas held down the No. 1 doubles spots that earned DeSimone’s praise. They held off their counterparts for a 6-4 win. The closest decision in doubles came at No. 2 where Jeremy Berryman and Joe Bindl squeaked out a victory. Then at No. 3, Juan Rabellino and Luke Zoller teamed up on a 6-1 win. The victories in singles came courtesy of Isaac Howes at No. 1, Kitson at No. 2, Bindl at No. 5 and Rabellino at No. 6. In six singles, Rabellino won every game in a 6-0, 6-0 decision. Each of the singles matches were decided without tiebreakers being necessary. Rojas and Zoller played at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, respectively.
· Through three dual matches, the Concordia men have combined to go 12-6 in singles and 7-2 in doubles play. Rabellino is now 3-0 in singles matches having played at three different spots in the lineup. Bindl (3-0) and Kitson (2-0) are also undefeated in singles. Back in the fall, the Bulldogs also competed in two individual bracket tournaments, one involving GPAC players only and the other being the ITA Central Regional Championships.
· The Nos. 1 and 2 doubles partners came through for the women when play got underway in the afternoon. Claudia Miranda Viera teamed up with Tara Ferrel on a 6-4 win at No. 1 while Luisa Esquivel and Katy Krejci collaborated on a victory by the same score at No. 2. Three of the six singles matches were decided by tiebreakers. That was the case at No. 1 where Miranda Viera persevered after dropping the first set. Krejci also outlasted her opponent in a tiebreaker at No. 4. At the bottom of the lineup, Esquivel (No. 5) and Kaitlin Seja (No. 6) needed less dramatics while helping clinch the team win. Ferrel lost her tiebreaker at No. 2 and Ansley Gates also dropped a close one at No. 3 (6-4, 6-4).
· Through three dual matches, the Concordia women have gone a combined 11-7 in singles and 6-3 in doubles. Krejci and Seja are both 2-0 in their singles outings. A native of Madrid, Spain, Miranda Viera has won 22 career singles matches. Like the men, the women’s team also competed in the GPAC Individual Tournament and ITA Central Regional Championships during the fall portion of the season.
· Both the Bulldog men and women are tied for the most overall wins in 2020-21 among GPAC teams. The only GPAC tennis team currently garnering votes in the national poll is the Midland men (receiving votes). In the first two official conference polls published by the NAIA, Concordia landed at No. 3 in the GPAC for both men and women. No conference matches were played in 2020 due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
· Concordia Tennis will have this week off from competition. The next matches for both teams are scheduled for Thursday, March 11 when they are scheduled to be at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. Both teams are slated to quickly turn around and host Iowa Central Community College on March 12 and Tabor College (Kan.) on March 13.
Track & Field
· The run of GPAC titles has continued for the women’s program, which dominated the 2021 GPAC Indoor Track & Field Championships by piling up 217 points (compared to 137 for second-place Hastings). On the men’s side, the Bulldogs placed third with 76 points (behind Dordt and Doane). The meet was hosted by Dordt in Sioux Center, Iowa, Feb. 19-20. Head Coach Matt Beisel’s program has now competed in seven meets this indoor season, with the national meet yet to come this week. For more information on Concordia Track & Field, click HERE.
· Official national qualifiers were announced by the NAIA on Feb. 23. The list includes 38 Bulldogs – 23 women and 15 men. That number for the women equals the national lead. Based on the national qualifying lists, Concordia has realistic hopes of bringing home another top-four trophy on the women’s side (placed fourth in 2020) and has potential to place top 10 on the men’s side (placed 17th in 2020). The full list of qualifiers can be viewed HERE.
· Four Bulldogs emerged from the conference meet with individual GPAC titles: Rachel Battershell (400 meters), Morgan De Jong (weight throw), Kylahn Heritage (1,000 meters) and Cody Williams (heptathlon). Concordia athletes also combined for nine GPAC runner-up claims: the women’s 4x400 meter relay, the men’s 4x800 meter relay, Battershell (55 hurdles), Heritage (mile), Elle Luehr (shot put), Cora Olson (55 meters; long jump), Josie Puelz (pole vault) and Zach Zohner (pole vault). Olson accumulated the most points as an individual by way of two second-place and two fifth-place finishes.
· As Beisel has said, the run of conference championships should not be taken for granted. The women’s program had not won a GPAC title since 2012 before it rose to the top at the 2019 conference indoor meet. Before this current streak, the women’s program had previously won conference championships four times (one indoor and three outdoor). On the women’s side, Beisel has led the Bulldogs to 2019 indoor and outdoor, 2020 indoor, 2021 indoor and 2019 cross country GPAC championships.
· It was a bit of an upset for sophomore Josie Puelz not to win the pole vault title. She placed second with her vault of 12’ 4.” Amira Cummings (fifth) and Erin Mapson (seventh) also scored in the event (13.5 team points). The long jump also produced a lofty 22 points thanks to the work of Olson, Katie Severt, Jamey Broman and Gabby Diamond (who placed 2-3-4-6). Another 17 points came via the 600 meters with Keri Bauer (third) being the top place finisher in that event. The shot put contributed 15 points as Luehr led the way with a second-place claim. Additionally, the women’s 1,000 meters accounted for 20 points (Rylee Haecker placed third).
· Williams got back to the top of the mountain in the heptathlon, an event he also won at the conference level in 2019. His final point total came in at 4,956 for the heptathlon. The men got crucial points in the pole vault with Zach Zohner (15’ 11 ¼”), Zach Bennetts (15’ 7 ¼”) and Chase Berry (14’ 9 ½”) placing 2-3-4. Chris Wren (weight throw) and Wyatt Loga (high jump) both placed third while Jacob Jennings took fourth in the 400 meters. It was enough to stave off the Red Raiders for third place.
· The top relays for Concordia included its women’s 4x4 (second), men’s 4x8 (second) and women’s 4x8 (third). The Bulldogs had dominated the women’s 4x4 in recent years. This time around, they placed second with Sarah Lewis, Bauer, Kennedy Mogul and Battershell clocking in at 3:58.68. The men’s 4x8 was made up of Camden Sesna, Calvin Rohde, Cameron Gray and Nick Price. Lewis contributed 10 team points (fourth place in two events). Mogul was one of three scorers in the pentathlon (including Emily Loy and Amy Richert).
· At the Early Bird meet (Dec. 4-5), Concordia athletes combined for what were classified at the time as nine automatic national marks, nine ‘B’ standard national marks and five marks that met the minimum national standard in the heptathlon/pentathlon. Since that meet, the NAIA announced that the national championships would simply include the top 16 in each event. Bulldogs who are currently in the top 10 nationally of their respective events are listed below. There are 27 total marks listed.
o Women’s 4x400 meter relay, 4th (3:54.37)
o Men’s 4x400 meter relay, 6th (3:19.01)
o Women’s 4x800 meter relay, 10th (9:37.74)
o Women’s distance medley relay, 6th (12:24.63)
o Rachel Battershell – 400 meters, 1st (55.93); 600 meters, 5th (1:35.93); 60 hurdles, 10th (8.90)
o Zach Bennetts – pole vault, 9th (15’ 8 ¼”)
o Jamey Broman – long jump, 9th (18’ 5”)
o Morgan De Jong – weight throw, 4th (56’ 10’ ¾”)
o Rylee Haecker – 1,000 meters, 9th (2:59.65)
o Kylahn Heritage – 1,000 meters, 7th (2:58.02); mile, 8th (5:05.89)
o Sarah Lewis – 60 hurdles, 8th (8.88); 400 meters, 9th (57.98)
o Wyatt Loga – high jump, 5th (6’ 9”)
o Elle Luehr – shot put, 4th (45’ 3 ¾”)
o Jacee Pfeifer – 600 meters, 10th (1:36.75)
o Josie Puelz – pole vault, 2nd (13’ 4 ½”)
o Sarah Ragland – weight throw, 6th (55’ ¼”)
o Amy Richert – high jump, 8th (5’ 5 ¼”)
o Xavier Ross – 400 meters, 5th (48.09)
o Katie Severt – long jump, 8th (18’ 7 ¼”)
o Cody Williams – heptathlon, 3rd (5,030); high jump, 5th (6’ 9”)
o Chris Wren – weight throw, 5th (62’ 4”)
o Zach Zohner – pole vault, 5th (15’ 11 ¼”)
· A couple of notable personal bests were turned in at the GPAC meet by throwers as Chris Wren moved up to fifth nationally in the weight throw with his toss of 62’ 4.” Meanwhile, Luehr jumped to fourth in the NAIA in the shot put with her mark of 45’ 3 ¾.” Luehr gave it a strong run at a conference championship, but was clipped by Doane’s Allison Skala. Four Bulldog throwers are listed among the top 10 of the country in either the shot put or weight throw.
· The 2021 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships will play out over four days (March 3-6) in Yankton, S.D. Mount Marty is serving as the host of the event that had previously been slated to unfold in Brookings, S.D. In order to ease the burden caused by COVID-19 restrictions, the meet was expanded to four days (two separate days for both men and women). More information on the meet can be found HERE.
· The season has concluded for all but three Concordia wrestlers who have qualified for the NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The conference tournament unfolded the weekend of Feb. 19-20 in Fremont, Neb., and saw the Bulldogs place sixth as a team with 70 points. Five Concordia individuals earned place finishes, including GPAC heavyweight champion Jacob Telles. He will be headed to the national tournament along with Mario Ybarra (133) and Gabe Crawford (165). For more information on Concordia Wrestling, click HERE.
· The tradition of strong heavyweights continues for the Bulldogs, who have had an individual in the GPAC heavyweight final in five of the last six years. That run includes four GPAC championships: claimed by Telles (2021), Tanner Farmer (2020) and Ceron Francisco (2016 and 2017). In addition, Michael Stann was the runner up in 2019. Telles would appear to be the most surprising champion of the three winners. He entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and an underdog to his counterpart from Doane.
· The roadblocks Telles faced included Doane’s Samuel Peterson, Briar Cliff’s Matthew Wilke and Doane’s Brandon Antesberger. Telles defeated Peterson, 5-0, and then Wilke, 5-1. That set up a clash with Antesberger, who was ranked 10th in the NAIA. One takedown was enough in a 3-1 squeaker over an opponent that had beaten him at the GPAC Duals. That victory marked No. 33 in an astonishing rookie season for Telles, who also leads the team in pins with 13.
· Additional GPAC place finishes were recorded by Crawford (second at 165), Brandon Gonzalez (fifth at 149), Issiah Burks (sixth at 157) and Mason Garcia (fifth at 197). A senior captain from Virginia Beach, Va., Crawford has persevered through injuries this season on his way to earning an automatic bid to nationals. He seemed to wrestle angry after he was beaten by decision in his first match of the tournament. His next three matches went – pin, technical fall and pin. Crawford then avenged his only loss of the weekend with a victory over Dakota Wesleyan’s Marcus Urban. Crawford rallied on the back side and was credited with true second.
· A junior captain, Burks joined Telles as a semifinalist. At 157 pounds, Burks began his tournament with wins over Dakota Wesleyan’s Coby Eikenhorst (decision) and Jamestown’s Jacob Hamilton (pin). That’s when things went sideways. Burks lost his next two matches and then was unable to wrestle in the fifth-place bout. Despite the disappointment on day two, Burks put together a fine season that saw him go 24-10 overall with 12 pins.
· Head Coach Levi Calhoun’s GPAC roster included 11 competitors. Unfortunately, starters in Ybarra and TJ Huber (174) were unable to wrestle at the conference tournament. Ybarra would have entered the event as the favorite at 133 pounds (reigning 125-pound GPAC champion). Had both been available, Concordia could have realistically leaped in front of Hastings (85.5) and Northwestern (75.5) for fourth place in the GPAC. As it turned out, seven Bulldogs contributed to the team scoring, including Jose Sanchez (157) and Oscar Ramirez-Garcia (184).
· Eight Concordia wrestlers have accumulated 10 or more wins this season: Telles (33-12), Burks (24-10), Jeaven Scdoris (19-18), Garcia (19-12), Huber (16-18), Sanchez (14-17), Ybarra (12-1) and Tavoris Smith (12-16). In the most recent NAIA national rankings, three Bulldogs appeared in the top 20: Ybarra (fourth at 133), Telles (15th at 285) and Burks (20th at 157). Based on the rankings, Concordia qualified about the number it was expected to for nationals.
The 2021 NAIA Wrestling National Championships remain on schedule for Friday and Saturday (March 5-6) at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan., where the event was also staged last year. The GPAC will have a total of 26 wrestlers at the national tournament. Ybarra was fortunate to have been chosen as an at-large selection despite not having wrestled since December. More details on the national tournament can be found on the NAIA website HERE. The Bulldogs hope to extend an active streak of seven-straight years with at least one All-American.