By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Concordia’s nationally-ranked men’s and women’s cross country teams finished their accomplished seasons at the 2012 NAIA National Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, Wash. The Bulldogs’ 13th-ranked men raced to a 21st-place finish while senior Sarah Kortze added yet another honor to her impressive resume.
Concordia sent two women and the entire GPAC champion men’s squad to the meet. Representing the women were Kortze and fellow senior Jena Schwalenberg.
Sloshing her way through the cold, wet weather, Kortze raced to All-American status for a second consecutive season. Kortze claimed 14th pace overall with a time of 18:19 on the 5k women’s course. Schwalenberg just missed All-American status, and placed 39th in a time of 18:45.
“It was a really exciting race,” Kortze said. “It was the final one of my cross country career and I was just soaking up the experience because it was my last race. I was hoping to improve from last year but I was 15 seconds slower. I’m just thankful to be here and for the good times that we could have together as a team. God has really blessed me this season, He’s given me a great team and a healthy body.”
Head coach Kregg Einspahr was pleased with the women’s performance, and shared his thoughts on the final races in the careers of two very successful seniors.
“The women ran very well,” Einspahr said. “I’m very happy with Sarah Kortze. She is a two time All-American, and that’s a very difficult thing to do two years in a row. She got out and got good position. She’s been very consistent all season. It was just a great season for her – a great way to finish her career.”
Einspahr also shared his thoughts on Schwalenberg.
“Jenna Schwalenberg had a very good race,” Einspahr said. “She got caught a little bit back in the middle of the pack in the middle of the race, but she did a good job of moving up during the race. I thought she ran very, very well.”
While only two women traveled to Washington, Einspahr commented on what could have been, had the entire team been able to make the trip.
“I would have liked to have seen the rest of our team here,” Einspahr said. “I think we could have finished very well as a team. With two very high finishes like that, I think we would have done very well in team scoring.”
On the men’s side, sophomore Ben Sievert led the way on the muddy, torn up course to take 51st place overall in a time of 25:38. Finishing second on the team was senior Colin Morrissey, in 26:11. Junior Hayden Hohnholt placed third on the team in 26:26. Junior Beau Billings was next in 26:36. Sophomore Charlie Bloomfield finished in 27:18, junior Adam Prahlow finished in 27:34 and freshman Jordan Potrzeba raced to a time of 28:19.
“I feel pretty good,” Sievert said of his race. “It was a big improvement from last year. I wish I could have moved up a little more during the race and I wanted to be in the top 30, but overall, I am happy with it.
Sievert commented on the season overall, and the enjoyment that he had.
“I thought it was a good season. The team was phenomenal all year. We won GPAC, and qualifying for Nationals was great.”
While it was not the finish that the men were looking for, Einspahr took away plenty of positives.
“We’re a little young and inexperienced,” Einspahr said. “I don’t think it was our best race of the season, but a top 25 finish at the national championships is still something to be very proud of. I think our men had a great season this year. I think this race today will give our younger runners a lot of experience going into next year.”