By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant
YANKTON, S.D. – The frigid and breezy conditions couldn’t slow the Concordia men’s and women’s cross country squads as they competed in the “best races that they’ve had all season,” according to head coach Kregg Einspahr.
The race was a battle from the beginning, but the Bulldogs responded with a resilient effort in the middle of the race, a point at which Einspahr constantly stresses is the most important.
“The guys had a tremendous race,” Einspahr said. “We came out and I thought we had some good position but we kind of gave that away in the middle of the race with two and a half miles to go. We were considerably behind in the team scoring behind Dickinson State and Morningside both and we had some guys really start to move and continue to move through the race and just have a great finish on it. I think that was probably our best race of the season.
The men’s team was victorious for the first time this season, holding off stiff competition from conference rivals Morningside and Dordt, ranked 18th and 24th, respectively.
“It was great competition. Dickinson State, Dordt and Morningside have all been top 25 teams during the season at one point or another,” Einspahr said. “We came out and were able to handle them.”
Junior Ben Sievert led the Bulldog cause with a second place overall finish in 25:27, just three seconds behind the winner. Senior Beau Billings edged out fellow senior Hayden Hohnholt at the finish line to take second for the team and eighth overall in 26:09.42, with Hohnholt on his heels in 26:09.81 and ninth place overall. Sophomore Jordan Potrzeba was next in 26:15 and a 13th overall place finish. Junior Charlie Bloomfield was not far behind as he placed 17th with a time of 26:21.
“In particular, I thought Beau Billings and Charlie Bloomfield had season best races,” Einspahr said. “They put themselves in position to do well today and they came through with great races and that was great to see. They compete extremely well; I’m very pleased with them.”
The women had a good race of their own, finishing fourth among 12 teams, improving their times and competing well.
“We ran much better today,” Einspahr said. “We’re a young team and very inexperienced team. Our gals have been practicing really well the last week and a half and they’re working very hard. It’s nice to see the team come out and have their best race of the season. I’m very pleased with how they competed. It was nice to see them finish fourth and have some real good races. I’m very happy with them.”
Kim Wood led the Bulldog pack with a 17th overall place finish and a time of 19:32. Junior Renee Williams placed second for the team in 19:53. Sophomore Megan Burma was next in 20:07 while junior Jenean Williams and junior Erika Schroeder raced to times of 20:17 and 20:20 respectively.
Concordia will have the next two weeks to prepare for the GPAC conference championship meet, which they will host on their home course. Winning the conference championship will mean an automatic berth in the NAIA cross country meet. Last season Concordia’s men won the conference behind individual GPAC champion Colin Morrissey. The Bulldogs also had the women’s titlist with Sarah Kortze topping the field.
The championship gun will sound at 10:45 a.m. in Seward on Saturday, Nov. 9.