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Men claim GPAC championship; Kortze, Morrissey win individual titles

By on Nov. 3, 2012 in Cross Country

Men claim GPAC championship; Kortze, Morrissey win individual titles

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

McCOOK LAKE, S.D. – The bitter cold did not slow the Concordia Bulldog cross country teams who competed in the GPAC cross country championships. In fact with hardly any wind and the race on a fast course, Concordia’s nationally-ranked men’s and women’s squads came through with huge performances.

Led by the individual GPAC crowns claimed by Sarah Kortze on the women’s side and Colin Morrissey on the men’s side, the Bulldogs rose to the occasion in their most important meet of the season to date.

The men claimed an NAIA National Championships automatic qualifying bid with a first-place finish – their second in the last four years – while the women finished second overall.

“Finishing first and second was a tremendous accomplishment,” head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “I’m very proud of them.”

In only his third race of the season after coming off an injury, senior Colin Morrissey raced to a first place overall finish with a time of 25:08. Junior Hayden Hohnholt took third overall with a time of 25:16. Sophomore Ben Sievert claimed sixth overall in 25:34. Junior Beau Billings finished in 25:44 and junior Adam Prahlow finished in 26:03. Freshman Jordan Portzeba finished in 26:10 and sophomore Charlie Bloomfield finished in 26:12. All seven runners will represent Concordia at the National Championships.

“It was outstanding,” Einspahr said of the men’s race. “I’m very proud of them, they stuck with it. It was their best team race of the season. Colin did really well for coming off an injury, and it really reveals his competitive drive. He’s just a tremendous competitor. He’s not at his peak fitness, but he runs with his guts.”

Senior Sarah Korrtze ran away with a dominating first place overall finish in a time of 17:11, roughly 34 seconds faster than teammate Jenna Schwalenberg, who finished second overall with a time of 17:45. Both Kortze and Scwalenberg will represent Concordia at the national championship meet.

Other top finishers for the Bulldogs were sophomore Renee Williams in 19:04, freshman Kim Wood in 19:06 and senior Christina Hanson in 19:10.

“The girls had a great race,” Einspahr said. “It was their best race of the season. Jenna and Sarah had a great race. It would have been nice to win second place outright, but Dordt had a good race too.”

The 20th-ranked Concordia men finished with 48 points, while No. 23 Morningside and Nebraska Wesleyan placed second and third with 55 and 75 points, respectively.

The 20th-ranked Bulldog women compiled 91 points to tie Nebraska Wesleyan for second. No. 11 Dordt won the women’s team title with 25 points.

The men, who have earned their 11th berth in the National Championships in the past 12 years, will head to the national stage on Nov. 17 in Vancouver, Wash. Kortze and Schwalenberg hope to be joined at the National Championships by the rest of their teammates. The Concordia women, placed 20th in the previous coaches’ poll, likely need to jump about five spots in the national rankings to earn an at-large bid and make their 18th National Championships appearance in the last 19 years.

A fresh coaches’ poll will be released on Sunday. These rankings will then be used to determine at-large qualifiers.