By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Concordia Bulldogs made their annual trek St. Paul, Minn., to compete in the grand Roy Griak Invitational against top level competition. The field provided plenty of quality opponents to challenge the Bulldogs and provide an accurate portrayal of where Concordia stacks up among other schools. At the end of the day, both the men’s and women’s squads finished in 20th place out of 33 and 35 teams, respectively, on the hilly and challenging course.
It certainly was not the day the Bulldogs were hoping for, nor did it meet the expectations they had coming into the meet.
“We can run a lot better,” head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “We need to run better if we want to be competitive at the conference and national level. It was another learning experience for us.”
Leading the charge for the women was freshman Emily Sievert who finishe time of 24:31, taking 68th place out of 325 runners.
“I felt pretty good,” Emily Sievert said. “I felt much better than last week, but my time didn’t really reflect that much. I think I just need to learn how to run a bit more aggressively.”
Filling out the rest of the scoring sheet for the Bulldogs was junior Megan Burma in 25:03, freshman Lauren Wilcox in 25:26, sophomore Jordyn Sturms in 25:49 and junior Kim Wood in 25:58.
“I thought (freshman) Lauren Wilcox had a good race today. Emily Sievert is doing a good job of working her way up to the front pack and is looking good,” Einspahr said.
On a day filled with mixed emotions for several athletes, Emily Sievert commented on what she thought of her team’s performance and explained why the process toward progression will require some patience on the part of the women.
“I think as a team we didn’t do as well as we thought we would,” Emily Sievert said. “Several of us are new to college running and I just think we have a lot to learn. It wasn’t a great day for the team, but I really think we have a lot of potential. We’re still building and we have a lot to work with. As the season goes, I’m sure we will be a really strong team to look out for.”
“I think it’s going to be very important for us to get stronger so we can hold good positions throughout the whole race,” Emily Sievert said. “Also, I think learning to run the race as a team will be really helpful for us. Pushing each other during races will improve us individually, but especially as a team.”
As for the men, senior Ben Sievert headed the effort with his 44th place finish and a time of 27:29.
“I was pretty disappointed with it to be honest,” Ben Sievert said. “I thought I got out OK but I was probably a little too far ahead than I should have been. I was 5:00 through the first mile which was 10 seconds slower than last week actually, but I wasn’t able to hold it today and I lost a whole bunch of spots in the 3 or 4k of the race which really hurt me. Overall, it’s a good experience to move on from and learn from. Hopefully next meet at pre nationals I’ll run a little smarter, race a little better and finish stronger than I did today.”
Senior Josh Allwardt was next in line for the Bulldogs, finishing in 28:23. Junior Taylor Mueller was not far behind, closing in at 28:26. On his heels was junior Jordan Potrzeba in 28:32 followed by freshman Kohlton Gabehart in 28:39.
We’ve got a really big gap right now between Ben and our second pack,” Einspahr said. “That’s something that we really need to shorten up.”
Ben Sievert commented on the day that the men’s squad had, as the team overall fell short of the goals they had going into the meet.
“I thought it was kind of a tossup for a lot of guys,” Ben Sievert said. “Some guys ran excellent, and then we also had some guys who weren’t quite where they wanted to be so it’s tough to really put a word on how everyone did as a whole. There were some ups and downs for the whole team. We don’t like losing to Dordt, Northwestern and Morningside so that really hurt.”
With two weeks of race recovery and training coming up, the Bulldogs will be able to regroup and refocus on what they need to do to be more competitive through the remainder of the season.
“We’re really hoping to use these next couple weeks that we have off to get back out there and train hard so we can come back for conference and kind of just give them a run for their money now, because we’re kind of the dark horse after a meet like this,” Ben Sievert said. “After losing to those guys, we really need to keep working hard and keep our heads up and hopefully come back strong again to our next meet.”
Concordia’s next meet will take place on Saturday, Oct. 11 when it heads to Lawrence, Kan., to compete in the NAIA Preview Meet.