SEWARD, Neb. – Believe it or not, the Concordia University women’s track and field program had won a team national title most recently than it had hoisted a GPAC championship trophy. That’s no longer true after the conclusion of the 2019 GPAC Indoor Track & Field Championships, which took place Friday and Saturday (Feb. 15-16) inside the Walz Fieldhouse. The Bulldog women racked up 173.5 team points while running away with first place. Meanwhile, Concordia finished second on the men’s side with 116.5 points.
By the end of a long championship hunt, head coach Matt Beisel’s squads had combined to produce seven GPAC event titles, four fresh automatic national qualifying standards and two new school records. It was a weekend to remember.
“God blesses them and allows them to do their best and we’ll take what we get,” Beisel said. “I’m very grateful and so proud of these athletes and coaches. It’s never guaranteed. Just piece by piece it got started with Jessica Deterding killing it and setting a school record in the pentathlon. That kind of got the snow ball rolling. I think there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm from the very beginning today. It was some awesome stuff.”
It was an especially sweet result for a women’s senior class headlined by two-time shot put national champion Samantha Liermann. Several of those seniors tasted an NAIA outdoor national title in 2016, but none of them had won a team conference title – until now. The women’s bid at ending Doane’s reign was bolstered by event championships from the women’s 4x400 meter relay, Allie Brooks (pole vault) and Taylor Grove (3,000 meters).
Brooks and the pole vault crew were a massive contributor to the team scoring. Brooks (12’ 2 ½”), Erin Mapson (12’ 2 ½”) and Jacee Pfeifer (11’ 10 ½”) each jumped season bests and placed 1-2-3 in the event. Combine that with a sixth-place claim by Tristen Mosier and the group totaled 26.5 team points. Meanwhile in the throws, Addie Shaw (second in shot put; third in weight throw) and company posted a collective total of 33 team points between the shot put and weight throw.
For Brooks, it marked her second career GPAC title in the pole vault.
“It was not easy for sure,” Brooks said of her road back to a title after redshirting during 2018. “You completely get out of the swing of things and then have to try and get back into it. It feels really good to be over 12 feet again.”
The women’s 4x4 put an exclamation mark on the night by blazing to a school record of 3:57.55. The group includes three freshmen in Rachel Battershell, Sarah Lewis and Jacee Pfeifer, in addition to senior Jamie Nikodym. Battershell and Pfeifer are already big time. Both rookie standouts also eclipsed ‘A’ standard times in the open 400 on Saturday, placing second and third, respectively, in the event. Pfeifer scored points in three individual events in addition to running the fastest leg of the 4x4.
Not only did Deterding break the school record in the pentathlon, she placed third in the open long jump and sixth in the triple jump. Another 13 team points came from Rebekah Hinrichs (1,000 meters and mile).
If he wasn’t already an established star, sophomore Cody Williams is one now. He helped the set the tone for the day by wrapping up a GPAC title in the heptathlon. He cleared 16’ 1” in the pole vault portion of the heptathlon for a new personal best that gave him a commanding lead. Williams finished with 5,213 points, which unofficially makes him the national leader in the heptathlon.
The men also got GPAC titles from Jacob Cornelio (weight throw), Josiah McAllister (1,000 meters) and Thomas Taylor (800 meters). Cornelio had entered the meet ranked third in the GPAC in the weight throw, but managed to pop off two throws that both outdistanced his previous personal best. His winning toss came in at 65’ 11 ½.”
For McAllister and Taylor, the wins on the track marked their first career GPAC titles in individual events. Said McAllister, “It definitely felt good. My earlier race didn’t go quite as we hoped so it felt good to get back out on the track, earn it back and take home the conference title and get those all important points for our team.”
The men’s 4x4 again hit the ‘A’ standard but settled for third place in an impressive field that saw four relay teams run under 3:20. One of the legs of that 4x4, Gavin Davis made himself a new qualifier in the 400 meters (49.48) with a second place finish. Davis also placed third in the 200 meters (22.23).
As one of four Bulldogs to hit the ‘A’ standard in the women’s weight throw, Carley Weisser is a fresh qualifier for the national championships. She placed seventh in the event. Coach Ed McLaughlin’s women’s throws crew now has four automatic qualifiers in the shot put and five in the weight throw.
The conference team title marked the fifth in program history for the women. Doane had a stranglehold on the top spot having won each of the women’s indoor titles since Concordia took one home in 2010.
Said Grove, “It’s a really special moment, especially with being a senior. I know it’s been a while for Concordia. Getting to do it at home on our own track was a pretty cool moment and definitely fun to celebrate with the team.”
Next up for qualifying athletes is the 2019 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships. The national meet will be staged at the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex in Brookings, S.D., Feb. 28 – March 2. Official national qualifiers will be announced by the NAIA next week.
2019 GPAC Champions