SEWARD, Neb. – In a unique year of Concordia Athletics, nearly every Bulldog sport summarized below was still in the midst of competition as February and March rolled around. As part of a whirlwind of a spring, Concordia teams thrived once again. The 2020-21 athletic year featured nearly 350 Concordia sporting events (in spite of COVID-19) and saw the Bulldogs combine for six GPAC titles. Squads such as baseball, women’s track & field, men’s and women’s tennis and volleyball achieved heights never before reached in their programs’ histories.
Read on for a team-by-team look at what occurred throughout the past year. As a department, Concordia Athletics placed second in the 2020-21 GPAC All-Sports Standings and figures to rank highly in the NAIA Learfield Cup Standings that have not yet been released.
Men’s GPAC Finish: 6th
Women’s GPAC Finish: 4th
Season Highlights: The 2020 season featured six meets with the campaign coming to an end on Nov. 7 when the GPAC Championships were held. The conference place finishes came up short of what Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads were striving for. On the plus side, both teams had the opportunity to experience a meet title. The men took first place at the Bronco Stampede on Sept. 12 while the women won the Dean White Invitational on Sept. 26. Conference champs in 2019, the women received votes nationally all fall and cracked the top 25 at No. 22 in late October. The men also received votes in the NAIA poll late in the campaign. The program’s top individual finishers at the GPAC meet were Kylahn Heritage (17th) on the women’s side and Antonio Blaine (30th) on the men’s side.
Record: 4-4 overall, 4-4 GPAC (5th)
All-GPAC: Korrell Koehlmoos (first team); Lane Napier (first team); Garrett Schardt (first team); Christian Schlepp (first team); Jonah Weyand (first team); Peyton Mitchell (second team); Johnny Robinson (second team); Chase Hammons (honorable mention); Chevy Stout (honorable mention).
All-American: Lane Napier (second team)
Season Highlights: Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s Bulldogs opened up the fall with a 4-0 start that included wins over Doane, Hastings, Briar Cliff and Jamestown. It marked the first time the program had won the first four games of a season since 2013. Concordia then stumbled over the second half of the 2020 campaign and finished at 4-4 overall (fifth place in the GPAC). The victories over rivals Doane and Hastings represented high points of the season. Redshirt sophomore running back Jonah Weyand rushed for 177 yards and five touchdowns versus Hastings and was named the NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week. The Bulldog defense held three of the first four opponents to single-digit point totals. Garrett Schardt caught 25 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns while becoming one of the GPAC’s top tight ends. On the defensive side of the ball, star linebacker Lane Napier eclipsed a career milestone by surpassing 400 career tackles.
Record: 10-5-3 overall, 7-2-2 GPAC (5th)
All-GPAC: Iker Casanova (second team); Moises Jacobo (second team); Carlos Orquiz (second team); Federico Simonetti (second team); Garrett Perry (honorable mention).
Season Highlights: In a two-part campaign, the Bulldogs reached the 10-win mark for the 10th year in a row while under the direction of Head Coach Jason Weides. Led by the likes of four second team All-GPAC honorees, the ’20 edition put together a mark of 7-2-2 within a league that sent three teams to the NAIA national tournament. Some highlights of the conference season included wins over rivals Doane and Midland and a 1-1 draw with eventual GPAC postseason champion Briar Cliff. The schedule was particularly challenging this past season with Concordia having played six national qualifiers. From a rankings standpoint, the most impressive win was the 2-1 decision over No. 17 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) back in September. The season ultimately ended with heartbreak in the GPAC quarterfinals at Northwestern.
*National Tournament Qualifier*
Record: 11-6-2 overall, 9-2-1 GPAC (T-2nd); GPAC tournament champions
All-GPAC: Mikeila Martinez (first team); Grace Soenksen (first team); Allee Downing (second team); Jaiden Beecher (honorable mention); Lindsey Carley (honorable mention); Madeline Haugen (honorable mention); Cheyenne Smith (honorable mention); Michaela Twito (honorable mention).
Season Highlights: In the first season of Head Coach Thomas Goines’ tenure, the Bulldogs competed near the top of the GPAC during the regular season and then made a memorable GPAC tournament title run in the spring. Concordia got past Dakota Wesleyan, 2-1, in the quarterfinals, survived a PK shootout (eight rounds) with Midland in the semifinals and then held off Jamestown in the title game despite a significant disadvantage in the shot count. Aliyah Aldama drilled a breathtaking game-winning goal to beat DWU before Bethany Fuchs emerged with the clinching PK versus Midland and earned credit for the game winner versus Jamestown. Unfortunately, COVID-19 positives within the program prevented the Bulldogs from traveling to the national tournament. However, the memory of winning the GPAC postseason title will linger for seniors like goalkeeper Lindsey Carley.
Record: 18-5 overall, 12-3 GPAC (3rd)
All-GPAC: Tara Callahan (first team); Gabi Nordaker (second team); Camryn Opfer (second team); Arleigh Costello (honorable mention); Marissa Hoerman (honorable mention).
All-American: Tara Callahan (honorable mention)
Season Highlights: The arrow continues to point skyward under the leadership of Head Coach Ben Boldt and lead assistant Angie Boldt. In an unusual season that ran into late April, the Bulldogs advanced to the NAIA national quarterfinals for the first time ever. They took down defending national champion Marian (Ind.) in order to move to the quarters. They also achieved the program’s highest ever ranking, landing at No. 8 in the postseason poll. In addition, Concordia placed third in the GPAC regular season, claimed seven wins over squads that were ranked in the final top 25 and went 7-0 versus in-state opponents, including two victories over Midland. The journey also featured a trip to New Orleans for the opening round prior to a short trek to Sioux City for the final site. A balanced squad was led by first team all-conference setter Tara Callahan. A second team All-GPAC selection, Camryn Opfer garnered NAIA National Championship All-Tournament Team accolades.
Record: 17-9 overall, 14-6 GPAC (T-3rd)
All-GPAC: Justin Wiersema (first team); Carter Kent (second team); Gage Smith (second team).
Season Highlights: While tying for third place in the GPAC regular season standings, the Bulldogs turned in their best GPAC regular season finish since the 2004-05 squad placed second. Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad put itself in the conversation for a national tournament bid while dominating at home (11-1) and picking up wins over national tournament qualifiers Jamestown and Northwestern (season sweep). Concordia began conference play at 5-0 on the way to 14 league victories (tied for the most in program history). Individually, Justin Wiersema (16.4 ppg, 55.6 fg%) and Gage Smith (13.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg) made big leaps forward and standout Carter Kent surpassed the 1,000 career point mark. The season came to an end with a GPAC quarterfinal defeat at Dakota Wesleyan, the same location of the Bulldogs’ GPAC tournament title in 2020.
Record: 22-9 overall, 17-5 GPAC (2nd)
All-GPAC: Taylor Cockerill (first team); Taysha Rushton (first team); Mackenzie Koepke (honorable mention); Rylee Pauli (honorable mention).
All-American: Taylor Cockerill (WBCA-first team; NAIA-honorable mention)
Season Highlights: Even without All-Americans Grace Barry and Philly Lammers, the Bulldogs made a deep run at the national tournament while reloading once again. The national tournament journey included an opening round, come-from-behind victory over 21st-ranked Loyola of New Orleans and then the team’s crowning achievement: a 73-67 upset of fifth-ranked Marian (Ind.) in the round of 16. Coming off knee surgery, guard Taylor Cockerill returned to an All-America level and averaged 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Cockerill was joined in the backcourt by Taysha Rushton, who enjoyed one of the best seasons by a freshman in program history. The campaign also included a couple of memorable down-to-the-wire battles with Morningside. The two rivals met four times, including their clash in the national quarterfinals. Head Coach Drew Olson surpassed 400 career victories in the win over Dordt on Feb. 3.
Cheer & Dance
Cheer GPAC/NAIA Qualifier Finish: 4th of 7
Dance GPAC/NAIA Qualifier Finish: 5th of 10 (Northwest Region) / 4th (GPAC)
Season Highlights: Head Coach Mandi Maser’s squads made significant strides this past winter. Both the cheer and dance squads enjoyed their best seasons since becoming official varsity sports at Concordia beginning in 2014-15. One of the major highlights occurred at the Concordia Cheer & Dance Invitational when both Bulldog squads placed second (out of six in cheer and out of eight in dance). Throughout the campaign, Concordia earned consistently higher scores than it had in any previous season. The season concluded at the GPAC Championships/NAIA Northwest Qualifier when both squads placed fourth in the GPAC. The 2020-21 teams were captained by junior Josie O’Laughlin and senior Cora Rhode in cheer and Haleigh Fitzsimmons and Michelle Porath in dance. The improvements bode well for the future.
Indoor Track & Field
Men’s GPAC Finish: 3rd
Men’s NAIA Finish: 12th
Women’s GPAC Finish: 1st
Women’s NAIA Finish: 3rd
Honorees: 22 Bulldogs achieved All-America status and 51 earned All-GPAC awards. For complete lists: All-Americans | All-GPAC.
Season Highlights: The women captured another GPAC title and achieved the program’s best ever finish at an indoor national meet (third). Meanwhile, the men placed third in the conference and 12th in the NAIA. The women were led by national champions in Rachel Battershell (400 meters) and Josie Puelz (pole vault). GPAC event titles were claimed by Battershell (400 meters), Morgan De Jong (weight throw), Kylahn Heritage (1,000 meters) and Cody Williams (heptathlon). In addition, 22 Bulldogs earned All-America honors in at least one event. Puelz became the school record holder in the indoor pole vault. Matt Beisel earned GPAC Women’s Coach of the Year accolades.
Record: 5-11 overall, 3-5 GPAC (T-5th)
GPAC Tournament Finish: 6th
NAIA Finish: 35th
All-GPAC: Jacob Telles (first team); Mario Ybarra (honorable mention).
All-American: Mario Ybarra (7th at 133)
Season Highlights: After graduating a wealth of seniors from the 2019-20 GPAC championship team, the Bulldogs showcased a much younger lineup this past winter. As a rookie, Jacob Telles made a big splash by winning 33 matches and seizing the GPAC heavyweight title. Meanwhile, captain Mario Ybarra managed through injury and collected the first All-America award of his career. He took seventh place in the NAIA at 133 pounds. The youth movement didn’t stop with Telles. Other significant freshmen contributors included Mason Garcia (197), TJ Huber (174), Jeaven Scdoris (149) and Carter Willis (125). Senior Gabe Crawford joined Telles and Ybarra at the national tournament. The experience gained this season will be beneficial as Head Coach Levi Calhoun and company look ahead to 2021-22.
Record: 42-12 overall, 21-7 GPAC (T-1st); GPAC tournament champions
*NAIA Opening Round Champion | World Series Qualifier*
All-GPAC: Jayden Adams (first team); Keaton Candor (first team); Beau Dorman (first team); Jake Fosgett (pitcher of the year; first team); Joey Grabanski (first team); Ben Berg (second team); Jesse Garcia (second team); Nathan Buckallew (honorable mention); Nick Little (honorable mention); Trent Wood (honorable mention).
Season Highlights: There has never been a better season in the history of the program. The Bulldogs celebrated with dogpiles when winning GPAC tournament and NAIA Opening Round championships. In the process of piling up a school record 42 wins, Concordia broke additional program single season records for home runs, runs scored and pitcher strikeouts. For the first time in history, the Bulldogs advanced all the way to the NAIA World Series (first GPAC team to do so since 2005). Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s powerful offensive lineup was led by four first team all-conference position players, including school home run record breaker Joey Grabanski (17). Keaton Candor starred as the unofficial MVP of the opening round. From a pitching perspective, Jake Fosgett caught the attention of pro scouts with his dominance and Nick Little became the program’s all-time winningest pitcher. Dupic has effectively taken on the task of turning around the fortunes of Concordia Baseball. The program has won GPAC titles in three of the past four seasons.
Men’s GPAC Finish: 9th (342-330-315-321–1,308)
Women’s GPAC Finish: 3rd (368-359-327-339–1,393)
All-GPAC: Drew D’Ercole (honorable mention); Mia Martin; Andrea Peterson; Kendra Placke.
Season Highlights: The women’s team became a force when transfer Mia Martin joined the Bulldogs this spring. Martin, Andrea Peterson and Kendra Placke each earned All-GPAC honors for Head Coach Brett Muller’s program. Placke has shined as one of the brightest stars in program history. The Seward High School alum won individual titles in the fall at the Frommelt Classic and at the Buena Vista Invite. With Martin and Placke leading the way, Concordia placed third in the GPAC for the second season in a row. Placke placed seventh in the GPAC with Peterson following in 13th. Martin shot 80-81 in her two spring conference championship rounds. On the men’s side, the Bulldogs did their best work (in terms of scoring) at the Red Raider Cup when seven of nine individuals equaled or eclipsed career lows. D’Ercole was the rock for the Bulldogs. He placed 21st in the GPAC and was named honorable mention all-conference.
Prairie Circuit Conference: 1st
ACUI National Finish: 7th (Division 2)
Event Championships: Prairie Circuit Classic; Midland Ice Out; Hastings Invite.
Season Highlights: Head Coach Scott Moniot’s squad keeps raising the bar while resetting school standards. While finishing the season at the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target National Championships (March 25-27), the Bulldogs broke program records in the disciplines of skeet, trap and super sporting. Concordia placed seventh out of 12 teams in a loaded Division 2 grouping at the national championships. From an individual perspective, the highlights included graduate student Erin Lokke (skeet) and freshman Wayne Moore (trap) shooting perfect 100/100 scores. Lokke won the women’s skeet national title while Moore tied for first in trap with five others (lost the tiebreaker for first). Moniot’s program competed in eight separate competitions throughout the 2020-21 season. Some highlights from the fall included a conference championship at the Prairie Circuit Classic, team titles at the Midland Ice Out and the Hastings Invite and a second place claim at the fifth annual Concordia Bulldog Sporting Invitational. Lokke garnered the individual crown at the conference championships.
Record: 32-13 overall, 15-7 GPAC (T-3rd)
*National Tournament Qualifier*
All-GPAC: Hhana Haro (first team); Caitlyn McGarvie (first team); Camry Moore (first team); Tori Homolka (honorable mention); Jenessa Jarvis (honorable mention); Kylee Nixon (honorable mention).
Season Highlights: The dates May 5-6 and were huge for the program, which knocked down a barrier in the form of rival Morningside. The Bulldogs twice defeated the 13th-ranked Mustangs while winning the Morningside Bracket of the GPAC tournament. The result was an automatic bid to the opening round of the national tournament. The biggest stars of the show were first team All-GPAC performers Hhana Haro and Camry Moore. Also an all-region selection, Moore starred at the plate and in the circle. Head Coach Shawn Semler led Concordia to 32 wins, a total that ranks as the fifth most in a single season in program history. The campaign concluded with two losses at the opening round hosted by Science & Arts in Chickasha, Okla. As for the regular season, the top moment was an upset of then third-ranked Oklahoma City.
Men’s Record: 10-6 overall, 5-1 GPAC (2nd)
Women’s Record: 10-7 overall, 6-1 GPAC (T-1st)
All-GPAC: MEN – Jeremiah Berryman; Joe Bindl; Isaac Howes; Gregor Lainer; Eduardo Rojas; Luke Zoller. WOMEN – Luisa Esquivel; Tara Ferrel; Ansley Gates; Katelyn Krejci; Claudia Miranda Viera; Sofia Morales.
Season Highlights: The combined efforts of the men and women made this perhaps the greatest spring in the history of Concordia Tennis. Both squads rolled to 5-0 records to begin GPAC regular season play. The women went 6-1 and tied for first in the conference while the men placed second at 5-1. In GPAC postseason play, the men earned a runner-up finish while the women reached the semifinals. Depth throughout the lineup represented a strength within Head Coach David DeSimone’s program. Between the men and women, 12 Bulldogs earned all-conference mention. The women got a jolt at the top of the lineup from freshman Sofia Morales. On the men’s side, Joe Bindl went an impressive 11-2 near the bottom of the singles lineup. Both teams began their 2020-21 seasons back in September and then finished up at the GPAC tournament (April 30-May 1).
Outdoor Track & Field
Men’s GPAC Finish: 4th
Men’s NAIA Finish: T-28th
Women’s GPAC Finish: 1st
Women’s NAIA Finish: 3rd
Honorees: 16 Bulldogs achieved All-America status and 54 earned All-GPAC awards. For complete lists: All-Americans | All-GPAC.
Season Highlights: The women’s team capped off 2021 with a fifth GPAC championship in a row. Just like indoor, they also placed third at the national meet. On the men’s side, the Bulldogs placed fourth in the GPAC and tied for 28th in the NAIA. Individual NAIA outdoor national championships were claimed by Jacob Cornelio (hammer throw), Josie Puelz (pole vault) and Liz Stottlemyre (javelin). GPAC outdoor titles were seized by the men’s 4x100 meter relay, the women’s 4x400 meter relay, Rachel Battershell (400 hurdles), Cornelio (hammer), Puelz (pole vault), Addie Shaw (shot put; hammer) and Stottlemyre (javelin). Puelz earned the award for GPAC Women’s Field Performance of the Meet with her GPAC meet pole vault record clearance of 13’ 7 ¼” (also a school record). At the national meet, the following program records were broken: women’s 4x100 meter relay (47.66), Cornelio in the hammer (219’), Emily Loy in the heptathlon (4,733) and Stottlemyre (167’ 2”). Four Bulldogs were rewarded with USTFCCCA regional awards: Matt Beisel, Ed McLaughlin, Battershell and Shaw. One of the program’s all-time great throwers, Shaw finished her career with 11 All-America awards.