YANKTON, S.D. – In one last outing prior to the 2022 GPAC Championships, the Concordia Cross Country squads attained most of what they could realistically hope and pray for. The Bulldogs turned in Mount Marty Invite place finishes on Saturday (Oct. 22) of third (out of 12) for the men and fourth (out of 11) for the women. The field at Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton, S.D., featured six GPAC squads in both the men’s and women’s races and nearly 300 total runners. Times were a bit slower in unseasonably warm conditions.
This was the fifth and final meet of the regular season for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads. In current NAIA national polls, Concordia is ranked No. 21 on the women’s side while receiving votes on the men’s side. Said Beisel of the ultimate takeaway from Saturday, “We accomplished goals for both the men and women.”
With 86 points, the Bulldog men placed behind Dordt (28) and the University of Sioux Falls (38) at the Mount Marty Invite. At the top of the pack, Reed City, Mich., native Calvin Rohde led Concordia by finishing the 8k race in 25:30.40, putting him in eighth place out of 145 competitors. Camden Sesna, the team’s top runner at each of the season’s first four meets, placed 13th in a time of 25:46.67 while battling through some aches and pains.
Dordt was the lone GPAC opponent to beat out the Bulldogs, who placed in front of Mount Marty (seventh), Northwestern (eighth), Morningside (10th) and Briar Cliff (11th). Concordia is currently rated second in the GPAC behind the NAIA third-ranked Defenders.
“We were a solid third,” Beisel said. “None of our guys ran personal bests, but everyone there was 30-to-60 seconds slower than two weeks before, running against the same teams. I thought it was a really good effort for the day. This shows that we still have a very good shot at placing second in the conference. Doane is going to be in there too. Today Calvin ran very well and had a great race. Camden finished closely behind him. Today was less about times and more about placing.”
The Bulldog top five looked similar to recent meets as Jack Ellis (26:55.86), Jimmy Nguyen (26:57.10) and Aaron Jendro (27:13.11) rounded it out while each placing in the top 35 individually. The rest of the team’s top 10 in Yankton included Nathan Pennekamp (27:57.50), Logan Walgate (28:11.21), Charlie Hayden (28:11.30), Trevor Kuncl (28:21.86) and Thomas Gorline (28:26.17). Beisel made special mention of the breakthrough performance for Walgate, native of St. Charles, Mo. Seventeen Bulldogs completed the race.
Concordia top five (8k)
8. Calvin Rohde – 25:30.40
13. Camden Sesna – 25:46.67
25. Jack Ellis – 26:55.86
26. Jimmy Nguyen – 26:57.10
34. Aaron Jendro – 27:13.11
The Concordia women came in at 98 points as they placed behind Sioux Falls (34), Dordt (44) and Northwestern (81). The Bulldogs were missing a key piece as former GPAC runner up Kylahn Freiberg missed the meet to attend a wedding in her home state of Idaho. Beisel liked the way the rest of the team helped pick up the slack. For the second meet in a row, Rylee Haecker emerged as the top runner for the Bulldogs. She crossed the finish line with a 5k time of 18:48.75.
Nationally ranked Concordia defeated other GPAC rivals in Morningside (fifth), Mount Marty (ninth) and Briar Cliff (10th). If the Bulldogs can peak in two weeks, they believe they can place inside the top two of the conference.
“We had all kinds of things happen on the women’s side,” Beisel said. “We knew it would be hard to beat Northwestern without Kylahn because they’ve been right there on our tail. We wanted to see how close we could get without Kylahn, and I thought our team did a fantastic job. Amie Martin is probably the rockstar of the day. She ran under 20 today and was our fifth finisher. She did a great job. Overall, it was a great effort.”
Haecker was followed in the top five of the lineup by Julie McIntyre (19:35.08), Rhaya Kaschinske (19:41.34), Hannah Beintema (19:52.33) and Martin (19:56.92). A transfer from Trinity Christian College, McIntyre has been a regular in the team’s top five this fall. So too have been the likes of Kaschinske and Beintema. The latter has been Concordia’s top freshman. The team’s six through 10 spots at the Mount Marty Invite were earned by Keegan Beisel (20:40.87), Jaiden Tweton (20:58.58), Sammi Vojslavek (21:42.02), Bella Marchisio (21:50.09) and Kyra Becker (21:56.18). There were 19 Bulldogs who completed the 5k race.
Concordia top five (5k)
6. Rylee Haecker – 18:48.75
20. Julie McIntyre – 19:35.08
25. Rhaya Kaschinske – 19:41.34
32. Hannah Beintema – 19:52.33
35. Amie Martin – 19:56.92
The next time the Bulldogs are in action it will be at the 2022 GPAC Cross Country Championships. This year’s conference meet will take place at Parkhurst Campground in Jamestown, N.D., on Saturday, Nov. 5. The gun is set to go off at 10:45 am. CT on that date. It will mark the first time that Jamestown has ever hosted the GPAC cross country meet.