SEWARD, Neb. – Led by a deep pole vault group, the Concordia University track and field programs posted seven new automatic national qualifying marks while hosting a meet for the first time in 2019. In a small gathering, the Bulldogs welcomed MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.), Nebraska Wesleyan University and Sterling College (Kan.) for Saturday (Jan. 19)’s Polar Dog Invite, which unfolded inside the Fieldhouse.
The event signaled the second weekend of the 2019 indoor season for head coach Matt Beisel’s squads, which produced 14 event titles at the Polar Dog meet.
“(The size of the meet) allows our kids to relax a little,” Beisel said. “We were not only on our home turf where they practice every day, but a majority of the kids in each event were their teammates, especially in the jumps and the throws. That creates some chemistry. We were expecting our kids to do pretty well and a lot of them did. I heard from a lot of our freshmen saying they were a lot more relaxed than last week.”
The pole vault group turned in its first national qualifier of 2019 last week when Jacee Pfeifer cleared 11’ 6 ½” at Doane. At the Polar Dog Invite, Erin Mapson, McKenzie Gravo and Allie Brooks each were successful at vaulting 11’ 6 ½” while locking up the top three place finishes. On the men’s side, Gavin DeHaai hit the ‘A’ standard and won the pole vault competition with a clearance of 15’ 5.” A host of other Bulldogs also expect to reach the national championships in the pole vault. That would include Tristen Mosier, who had a ‘B’ standard qualifying mark.
In the throws, Jacob Cornelio could be the next Concordia male to take a run at an individual national title before his career is out. The junior from Elk Grove, Calif., set a new personal best in the weight throw with his winning toss of 63’ 7 ¾.” He won the competition by nearly 13 feet.
Said Cornelio, “It was the same feeling as most throws. I don’t really know until I hear the mark. I felt pretty good. I always think my throws are slow and not as good as they could be, but I was very happy to hear that it was a PR.”
On the women’s side, Samantha Liermann and Addie Shaw again eclipsed automatic marks in both the shot put and weight throw. Shaw took first with a weight throw that measured in at 60’ 6 ¾,” a PR that would rank No. 1 nationally based on the NAIA performance list entering Saturday. Also in the women’s weight throw, Johanna Ragland put up a fresh automatic mark of 55’ 9 ¾.”
Some good things also occurred on the track. The women’s 4x400 meter relay capped the evening by clocking an automatic national qualifying time of 3:58.50. The group featured Rachel Battershell (200 meter dash winner), Sarah Lewis, Jessica Deterding and Pfeifer. On the national level, only two women’s 4x4’s had achieved automatic qualifying times entering the day. Meanwhile, the Concordia men’s 4x4 of Gavin Davis, Nathan Matters, Xavier Ross and Jake Rodgers posted a ‘B’ time of 3:23.34.
Elsewhere on the track, senior Nathan Matters galloped to a new ‘A’ standard time of 1:21.89 while taking first place in the 600 meter run. Matters also ran the 600 at the 2017 indoor national championships. In the women’s 5,000 meters, senior Taylor Grove ran a PR of 18:41.87 for a meet record and won the event.
Another area of strength is the women’s triple jump, which last week qualified senior Leah Larson for the national championships with a school record performance. Larson placed runner up to teammate Adrianna Sims (37’ ¼”) on Saturday in the triple jump. Larson, Sims and Jessica Deterding all achieved ‘B’ marks.
Said Larson of what has kept her motivated after breaking the record, “My teammates for sure. I’ve got two other teammates who are pushing the school record as well so it’s really anybody’s game.”
Additional event champions not previously mentioned were the women’s 4x800 meter relay (Rebekah Hinrichs, Miranda Rathjen, Alyssa Fye and Kailey Weichel), Taylor Beck (triple jump), Ally Glaser (high jump) and Ben Pratt (high jump).
“We recruited these kids to do what they’re doing,” Beisel said. “The nice thing is that so many have already smashed their high school marks. That’s a credit to the training group that these kids work with. The expectation level is high and we have really good coaches.”
The Bulldogs will host another meet next Thursday and Friday (Jan. 24-25) with the Concordia Classic set to take place inside the Fieldhouse. The tentative schedule for the Concordia Classic can be viewed HERE.