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Bulldog cross country named among NAIA's most successful programs

By on Dec. 2, 2011 in Cross Country

Bulldog cross country named among NAIA's most successful programs

It was business as usual for Coach Kregg Einspahr and the Bulldog cross country teams in 2011.  The Concordia women made a trip to Nationals for the 17th time in the past 18 years.  The Bulldog women have now finished in the top 20 at the NAIA National Championships in 17 of the last 18 seasons following their 17th-place finish at the 2011 Championships.  Sarah Kortze earned All-American honors for Concordia.  Kortze, Jena Schwalenberg and Ben Sievert also earned All-Conference recognition this season for the Bulldogs.   

Consistency has been a trademark of Coach Einspahr’s teams over the years.  In the past 12 years alone, Einspahr’s teams have been NAIA National Champion Runner-up a total of six times in track or cross country, and Coach Einspahr has been named conference or regional Coach-of-the-Year more than 25 times during his Concordia career.  The Concordia men’s team has also finished in the NAIA top 25 in 12 of the last 15 years.  Coach Einspahr discussed the consistency of his teams and the continued efforts of his entire coaching staff.   

“Our coaching staff has consistently had high expectations of themselves and our student athletes – both in the classroom and on the cross country course and track,” noted Einspahr, who is in his 20th year at Concordia.  “Our student athletes have attempted to realize these high expectations, and they should be commended for striving to use the talents the good Lord has given them.  Our staff continues to learn and develop each year so that we can try to help each student and each team to develop their talents.  We are also fortunate to have our own cross country trail on campus with easy access to miles and miles of country roads to train on.”       

The consistent success of the Bulldog cross country program has certainly been recognized.  Following the 2011 season, lists of the most successful NAIA cross country programs were released.  At the request of the NAIA Cross Country Coaches Association, lists of the programs with the combined best finishes at the NAIA National Championships were developed.  Scoring was based on a system in which a team championship received 40 points, second place 39 points, etc.  Lists were created for all-time top programs and top current programs. 

On the women’s side, Concordia is ranked eighth in all-time top programs (1980-2010).  The Bulldogs are second in the list of top current programs, trailing only Azusa Pacific (Calif.).  The Concordia men’s cross country program is eighth in the list of top current men’s programs. 

Other NAIA coaches have also recognized the successes of Coach Einspahr and his teams over the years.  Jonathan Zimmerman, head coach at traditional cross country power Biola University, had several good things to say about Coach Einspahr and the Bulldog program. 

“Kregg does an outstanding job of recruiting outstanding students that are truly representative of Concordia as a whole,” remarked Zimmerman.  “He does a superior job of taking these individuals and transforming them into quality men’s and women’s cross country and track teams year in and year out.  Expectations are very high for his student athletes to be both competitive and scholastic.  He really has done an extraordinary job.”  

“It always means a lot when people outside of our school recognize the work our teams have done,” added Einspahr.  “Certainly, we are pleased to be recognized as one of the most consistently successful cross country programs in the country.  “Over the years, we have been fortunate to attract talented individuals who have been a good fit with the Concordia community.  In addition, many of our runners have been over-achievers who have done well because of their outstanding personal work habits.  They have been very coachable – trusting their training, and they have been very hard workers.”