NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. – The Concordia University Cross Country program emerged from the Morningside Invitational with team meet championships for both the men and women. The Bulldogs outran a field of seven squads on the men’s side and five on the women’s side in races that took place at Adams Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, S.D., on Friday (Sept. 17). The field included 53 women’s runners and 70 men’s competitors.
Individually, Concordia standout Grace Reiman won the individual women’s 5k title while Camden Sesna was the runner up in the men’s 8k race. Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads have started 2021 in a big way. Both Bulldog squads also upended nationally ranked foes in the season opening Augustana Twilight two weeks earlier.
“We knew we had the potential to do what we did today,” Beisel said. “It was confirmation that what we’re doing with our training plan is working and we have the ability to be one of the top teams in the conference. It’s exciting to think about what the future can hold, but we’re also thinking about one day and one week at a time and enjoying the moment. That was our big thing today – let’s not stress about this. Let’s have fun and find joy in being able to compete with these awesome teammates that God has given you. That’s what happened. Everyone was in a great mood and got the job done.”
The Bulldogs placed 12th out of 31 teams in a loaded field at the Augustana Twilight back on Sept. 3. This time around, Concordia beat out a smaller field that included Wayne State College (2nd), Morningside (3rd), Southeast Community College (4th), Mount Marty (5th), Dakota Wesleyan (6th) and Iowa Wesleyan University (7th). The Bulldogs finished with a total of 43 points, 10 better than runner up Wayne State at the Morningside Invite.
This marks the second season in a row that the Concordia men have won a meet. They also took first at the 2020 Hastings Bronco Invite.
“Cam ran a great race and was with the lead guy until about a mile left and couldn’t hold onto him,” Beisel said. “Many of our guys ran the fastest race of their lives. All the freshmen ran their first 8k race ever, and I though they handled it really well. Calvin Rohde, Charlie Hayden, Thomas Gorline and Wyatt Lehr also finished in the top 15. Those were all really good performances. It was a really solid race.”
Sesna (Kearney, Neb.) had also led the way for the Bulldogs at the Augustana Twilight by placing 35th out of 344 runners. So far this season, the Bulldogs have outperformed their GPAC preseason ranking of sixth. Over the two meets this fall, Concordia has knocked off higher rated conference teams such as Doane, Midland and Morningside.
A total of 18 Bulldog men galloped the Adams Nature Preserve trail. The Augustana Twilight meet had been a shorter race of four miles. As noted by Beisel, this was the team’s first 8k race of the season. Not only did Concordia place five runners in the top 25, it also had nine of the top 25 at the Morningside Invite.
Concordia men’s top 10 place finishers (8k):
2. Camden Sesna – 25:39.16
4. Calvin Rohde – 26:12.11
10. Charlie Hayden – 27:10.83
14. Thomas Gorline – 27:36.91
15. Wyatt Lehr – 27:41.06
16. Jack Ellis – 27:43.11
18. Nathan Pennekamp – 27:46.60
21. Ethan Pankow – 27:49.25
25. Joe McFarland – 27:56.07
27. Owen Dawson – 28:17.95
It’s only a matter of time now before the Concordia women return to the NAIA top 25 national rankings (new poll will be released on Sept. 23). Following Reiman’s lead as the individual Morningside Invite titlist, the Bulldogs defeated Morningside (2nd), Wayne State (3rd), Mount Marty (4th) and Iowa Wesleyan (5th). The Bulldogs made waves two weeks ago when they placed eighth at the Augustana Twilight and held off NAIA No. 6 Dordt, the defending GPAC champion.
The Concordia women had won a meet as recently as the Dean White Invitational in 2020. They also were the 2019 GPAC champions.
“Grace dominated and basically tied her all-time personal best,” Beisel said. “Kaia Richmond had a very strong performance for a freshman and was our No. 2. We had nine girls in the top 15 so that was really cool. They all got these nice stocking caps with the words ‘cross country’ embroidered on them (for placing top 15).”
Reiman (Hastings, Neb.) has made an impressive leap forward in her second collegiate season. She was also the top Bulldog runner at the Augustana Twilight (44th place out of 329). As compared to first meet, Reiman shaved more than 40 seconds off her 5k time. The freshmen also continue to raise the level of the team. The rookies held down the Nos. 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 spots in the lineup at the Morningside Invite.
Nineteen runners represented the Concordia women at Adams Nature Preserve. Reiman distanced herself from the second-place finisher by a margin of 16 seconds. Five Bulldogs placed inside the top nine at the Morningside Invite.
Concordia women’s top 10 place finishers (5k):
1. Grace Reiman – 18:44.73
4. Kaia Richmond – 19:10.90
7. Rylee Haecker – 19:29.15
8. Rhaya Kaschinske – 19:42.25
9. Keri Bauer – 19:49.73
11. Jaiden Tweton – 20:16.07
12. Courtney Wright – 20:16.51
13. Katelyn Nix – 20:18.31
14. Amie Martin – 20:24.47
17. Grace Oberg – 20:37.40
The Bulldogs will return to the same location in two weeks for the Briar Cliff Invite on Friday, Oct. 1. The race is set to get underway at 3 p.m. CT on that date. At that same meet last season, Concordia placed second out of 13 teams on the women’s side and sixth out of 14 squads on the men’s side.