SEWARD, Neb. – After a two-week lay-off, the Concordia Bulldogs cross country teams are back in action this Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Dean White Invitational. The meet will be held by Doane University in Crete, Neb. This marks the fifth consecutive year the Bulldogs have competed in the event.
The meet will feature GPAC members Doane, Midland and Mount Marty in addition to Grandview, Bellevue and Peru State. The women’s 5k race will get underway at 10 a.m. CT with the men’s 8k race following at 10:45 a.m. CT.
“This week, we are hoping to make a pretty good impact both as a competitive team on the men’s and women’s side but also as far as our times,” said Head Coach Matt Beisel. “Doane is traditionally not the fastest course, it is not slow, but you are not going to see blazing times. If we run this the way we are capable of, we will improve on our performances from this season, which is a goal of ours. Based on our performances so far this year, we have a fairly good shot at winning both the men’s and women’s races.”
The Concordia men’s squad enters the meet coming off a win at the Hastings Bronco Stampede back on Sept. 12. During the meet, sophomore Camden Sesna recorded a new personal best, finishing in seventh place with a time of 26:19.15. Freshman Calvin Rohde followed Sesna in the top-20 with a pace of 27:18.13, good for 20th overall. Other Bulldogs who have been among the team’s top runners are senior Jordan Lorenz, junior Wyatt Lehr and sophomore Antonio Blaine.
While the Bulldogs have a good chance at winning both races, Beisel admits it will not be easy. The men’s race features a very competitive field including Doane’s Alec Wick who will be defending his title from last year’s race on his home course.
“It is no guarantee,” Beisel said. “Especially on the men’s side, Doane has a very strong men’s team. Two of their top runners from last year have not run yet this season. They also brought a transfer in from Iowa Western, who is outstanding, and he has not raced yet. If he runs and those others run, it is going to be a challenge. Our guys are going to have to step up and take care of business.”
The Bulldog women are no strangers to success at the Dean White Invitational as they took home the team title in 2019. Concordia enters the meet following a runner-up performance at the Hastings Bronco Stampede, where freshman Grace Reiman (20:18.75, 13th) and senior Lydia Cook (20:24.81, 16th) recorded top-20 finishes.
The women’s squad has been competing shorthanded in their first two meets. However, the Bulldogs are expecting to have a full lineup this weekend.
“We have had two of our top women out for various reasons and have not yet had our top-three women all run a race at the same time,” Beisel said. “Everyone is back in action, so this Saturday will be the first time we see sophomore Kylahn Heritage, freshman Grace Reiman and senior Sydney Clark all run together. Those three are now back in action and they are supplemented by a very strong next five to six runners.”
Heritage and Clark both were significant factors in the Bulldogs victory at last year’s Dean White Invitational, as Heritage jetted to a seventh-place finish with a time of 19:47.68 while Clark finished in 11th with a pace of 20:05.38.
Both the men’s and women’s squads have very high expectations this fall and are not taking this season for granted.
“I am extremely proud of the effort and hard work that our kids have put in,” said Beisel. “Sometimes it is a thankless task when it just hurts and then you hurt for days later. At the same time, we are staying injury-free for the most part. Our kids have very high expectations for themselves. I look at every single day that we are practicing with joy because we lost so much last spring and I am never going to take this for granted again.”
After completing their races at Doane, the Bulldogs will be traveling to North Sioux City, S.D., to run in the Briar Cliff University Invitational on Oct. 3, at 10 a.m. CT.