Meet Preview: 2022 GPAC Cross Country Championships

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 1, 2022 in Cross Country

SEWARD, Neb. – The week the Concordia Cross Country teams have been preparing for all season has arrived. The 2022 GPAC Cross Country Championships will take place this Saturday at Parkhurst Campground in Jamestown, N.D., a location that has never before played host to the conference meet. Chilly but favorable conditions are expected when the women’s 5k race gets underway at 10:45 a.m. CT. The men’s 8k race is slated to get started at 11:30 a.m.

Meet Info – 2022 GPAC Cross Country Championships
Saturday, Nov. 5 | Women’s 5k – 10:45 a.m., Men’s 8k – 11:30 a.m.
Parkhurst Campground | Jamestown, N.D.
Results: Dakota Timing

Head Coach Matt Beisel’s program is determined to improve upon last season’s conference placements of fourth on the men’s side and fifth on the women’s side. Beisel led the women’s program to a GPAC title in 2019. In the current NAIA national rankings, the Bulldogs are rated No. 24 in the women’s poll while receiving votes in the men’s poll. The women have been rated in the top 25 in four consecutive polls (17th, 22nd, 21st and 24th). Beisel believes both teams have a shot at placing inside the top two of the conference.

Through five meets this season, the Concordia women have recorded place finishes of ninth out of 28 at the Augustana Twilight, third out of 19 at the Greeno/Dirksen Invite, first out of five at the Dean White Invite, second out of 14 at the Dordt Classic and fourth out of 11 at the Mount Marty Invite. Meanwhile, the Bulldog men have turned in place finishes of 12th out of 32 at the Augustana Twilight, sixth out of 21 at the Greeno/Dirksen Invite, second out of two at the Dean White Invite, third out of 14 at the Dordt Classic and third out of 12 at the Mount Marty Invite. The women had not been defeated by any NAIA opponents until placing as the runner up to Dordt on Oct. 8. They then placed behind Dordt and Northwestern at the Mount Marty Invite.

Both the Concordia men’s and women’s teams have two individuals with past all-conference accolades to their credit. In 2021, Camden Sesna (seventh) and Calvin Rohde (10th) on the men’s side and Rylee Haecker (seventh) on the women’s side garnered All-GPAC awards thanks to placing top 10 in the conference. In addition, Kylahn Freiberg placed as the conference runner up in 2019 while pacing the Bulldogs to a GPAC championship. All four Bulldogs possess experience at the national meet – and so too does Amie Martin, who was part of the 2019 squad. Haecker, Rohde and Sesna qualified as individuals in 2021.

Thanks to their efforts this fall, Sesna and Freiberg have collected two GPAC Runner of the Week awards apiece. It’s been a comeback story for Freiberg (maiden name Heritage) after she spent most of the 2021 season fighting through injury. Freiberg’s top 5k time this season was her 18:41.07 (11th place) at the Dordt Classic in early October. As for Sesna, his best 8k time came in at 24:46.85 (seventh place) at the Dordt Classic. Sesna was also the winner of the Dean White Invite hosted by Doane. In addition, Haecker has turned in two 5k times under 19 minutes (best of 18:30.35) this season. Rohde recently ran 25:30.40 in the 8k and placed eighth at the Mount Marty Invite. When everyone was present at the Dordt Classic, Concordia’s Nos. 3 runners were Julie McIntyre on the women’s side and Jimmy Nguyen on the men’s side. Of the 20 Bulldogs on the conference championship roster, eight will be experiencing a GPAC meet for the first time.

The most recent GPAC ratings were released on Oct. 24. Dordt took down the top spot for both men and women while the Bulldogs were next at No. 2 on both sides. Right on the heels of the Concordia women is Northwestern while Doane has been close with the Bulldog men. With 12 teams in the league on the women’s side, the GPAC will get two automatic bids to nationals. On the men’s side, only the conference champion will get an automatic nationals berth. At-large bids will be announced next week by the NAIA.

In the history of Concordia Cross Country, the program has claimed a combined 12 team conference championships and 25 individual conference titles. The most recent individual GPAC champions were Sarah Kortze (2012) for the women and Colin Morrissey (2012) for the men. The 2009 season marked the last time the Bulldogs sent their men’s and women’s teams to the national meet in the same year.

Official qualifiers for the 2022 NAIA Cross Country National Championships will be announced once all conference meets have concluded. The national meet is set to be held in at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla., Nov. 18. More details on the meet can be found via the NAIA website HERE.

2022 Concordia GPAC Championship Roster

Hannah Beintema
Keegan Beisel
Kylahn Freiberg
Rylee Haecker
Rhaya Kaschinske
Amie Martin
Julie McIntyre
Jaiden Tweton
Sammi Vojslavek (alternate)
Faith Williamson
Courtney Wright

Jack Ellis
Thomas Gorline
Charlie Hayden
Aaron Jendro
Trevor Kuncl
Jimmy Nguyen
Nathan Pennekamp
Calvin Rohde
Camden Sesna
Logan Walgate (alternate)
Micah Willweber

Concordia Cross Country History

All-time team conference championships

Men (6): 1971, 1972, 1997, 2004, 2009, 2012

Women (6): 1995, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2019

All-time individual conference champions

Men (18)
Dan Cloeter (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973)
Dave Cloeter (1975)
Kregg Einspahr (1979, 1980, 1981)
Brandon Seifert (1997, 1998, 1999)
Andrew Walquist (2003, 2004)
Luka Thor (2006)
Zach Meineke (2008, 2009)
Dana Schmidt (2010)
Colin Morrissey (2012)

Women (7)
Sharon Holthaus (1980)
Amy Luft (1997)
Stacey Hain (1998)
Molly Engel (2002, 2003, 2004)
Sarah Kortze (2012)