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Concordia men place third, women fifth at GPAC championships

By on Nov. 9, 2013 in Cross Country

Concordia men place third, women fifth at GPAC championships

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – The cross country regular season came to a close as the Bulldogs competed in the GPAC conference championships on their home course on the Concordia campus. Finishing in fifth, the women saw several competitors run their best races of the season. For the men, all hopes of clinching the GPAC championship were crushed when they placed third with a disappointing finish that will leave them guessing as to whether or not they can take their team to the national championships in Lawrence, Kan. The men’s future will likely be decided on Monday afternoon.

Head coach Kregg Einspahr was pleased with the performance of the women’s squad, and while they didn’t quite finish as high as they were hoping, he remained positive.  

“I thought we had some gals that had their best race of the season,” Einspahr said. “Erika, Jenean and Renee in particular had very good races. We just had a little bit of a mixed bag. Renee just had her best race of the season by far, I thought. We would like to finish better than fifth in the conference, but overall I thought we had a pretty good race.”

Junior Renee Williams ran to a 15th place finish in a time of 19:22, placing first for the Bulldogs. Junior Erika Schroeder was next in 20:13. Senior Jenean Williams was close behind in 20:18 with sophomore Megan Burma on her heals in 20:21. Despite battling a foot injury, sophomore Kim Wood was able to grit out a 20:32.

As for the men, they were not able to repeat as conference champions, falling short to Morningside College and Nebraska Wesleyan University.  

“I thought on the men’s side we just had some guys that didn’t come through with very good races today and at the conference championship, you’ve got to have everyone fired,” Einspahr said. “It’s a tough conference and going in I thought we had four or five teams that could legitimately win the conference championship, and you can’t have an off day and think you’re going to win the championships.

“We had some fellas that had good races but we didn’t hit on all cylinders today and that’s what you have to do to win the conference championship. Obviously we’re disappointed to finish third; we wanted to win the conference championship.”

“Obviously, we’re all a little disappointed because we were hoping to get the automatic bid and head to the national championships but we weren’t able to do that today,” junior Ben Sievert said. “It was disappointing. It didn’t go our way today so we just need to remember to praise the Lord in the good and the bad.”

Sievert led the way for the Bulldogs, racing to a third place overall finish and a time of 26:30.

Sievert explained his goals and race strategy going into the meet as well as his feelings on the outcome of his team’s performance.

“I’m really happy with how the race went for myself today,” Sievert said. “To make nationals is really just a great blessing in my life. I was hoping to win it; I mean obviously no one wants to get third place, but still, third place in this conference is definitely something to be happy with. I went for it and I just got out hard early and I just thought I’d give my all early in the race and see what happened. Unfortunately it didn’t go my way today. It’s all good to be able to make it to nationals is still a cool thing to say.”

Einspahr shared his own comments as to the strategy that Sievert tried to carry out.

“Ben really gave it a shot to try and win the championship,” Einspahr said. “He may have spent a little more energy in the middle of the race but those are the kinds of chances you have to take to win the conference championship.”

Senior Hayden Hohnholt placed second for the team and sixth overall with a time of 26:44. Sophomore Jordan Potrzeba raced to a ninth place overall finish in 26:57 with senior Beau Billings not far behind at 15th overall and a time of 27:09.

Looking ahead, Sievert and Hohnholt have guaranteed paths to the National Championships with Potrzeba likely headed there as well.

Einspahr expressed his thoughts on the upcoming meet and how he thinks his runners will fare in a couple weeks.

“I think Ben Sievert has a good shot to be an All-American,” Einspahr said. “Hayden might have an outside shot as well. They both had good races today. (Sievert) had a good season and I think he’ll have a good race at nationals.”