The Concordia University cross country teams will rely heavily on youth in the upcoming 2011 season. Coach Kregg Einspahr sees the potential on this year’s squads.
“Both teams lost a lot to graduation this past year,” noted Einspahr. “Our men’s team is very young this year. If our women’s team can stay healthy, they should be a good team. The women’s team has some very good and experienced runners, but we may not have the depth of years past.”
Last year, the Concordia men, led by Dana Schmidt, qualified for the NAIA National Meet. Schmidt was the GPAC Champion and conference Runner-of-the-Year. He also earned All-American honors for the second straight year. Tyson Billings also had a strong year in 2010 for the Bulldogs. He was a top-10 finisher at the GPAC Championships and a top-50 finisher at Nationals. Both Schmidt and Billings graduated, however, and that leaves big holes to fill in the top running spots.
The Bulldogs will rely on the experience of Colin Morrissey and Matt Trampe. Morrissey, a junior from Omaha, finished as the GPAC Runner-up in 2010. He finished third on the team at Nationals and earned GPAC Runner-of-the-Week honors during the 2010 season. Trampe, a senior from Kearney, finished fourth on the team at Nationals last year.
The Concordia men will also look to Adam Prahlow (Florrisant, Mo.), Beau Billings (Valentine, Neb.), Jon Powell (Columbus, Neb.) and Joel Heckmann (Sioux Falls, S.D.) for added depth in 2011.
“Both Adam and Beau had excellent track seasons and should be better prepared for the college 8k distance this fall,” remarked Einspahr. “Jon had a promising start to his cross country season last year and is coming off an injury. He is an outstanding competitor. Joel just continues to improve. He had a good track season this past year specializing in the 10k run.”
On the women’s side, Concordia failed to qualify for the National Championships in 2010. The Bulldog women had finished in the top 20 at Nationals for 16 straight years before not qualifying in 2010.
Senior Martha Meineke (Denver, Colo.) and juniors Jena Schwalenberg (Columbus, Neb.) and Sarah Kortze (Rockford, Ill.) return to lead the way for the Bulldogs in 2011. Kortze was one of the two individual National qualifiers a year ago for Concordia after finishing fourth in the GPAC Championships.
Theresa Staley (Lincoln, Neb.) and Jenean Williams (North Mankato, Minn.) will also add depth to the women’s roster after redshirting last year. “Both Theresa and Jenean were recovering from injury last year and did not compete,” noted Einspahr. “Jenean had an outstanding freshman season in track this past year.”
The Bulldogs open the 2011 season on September 10 in the Nike Heartland Invite. The GPAC Championships are scheduled for November 5 with the NAIA National Meet set for November 19. As usual, the expectations are very high for both Concordia squads.
“We would like to try to be one of the top teams in the conference and compete for the GPAC conference championship,” said Einspahr. “Our men would like to finish in the top 25 at the NAIA Championships for the 14th time in 16 seasons. Our women would like to finish in the top 20 at the National Championships for the 17th time in 18 seasons.”