SEWARD, Neb. – Coming off a 24th-place team finish at the 2013 national championships, head coach Kregg Einspahr’s men’s cross country squad checked in at No. 21 in the preseason edition of the 2014 NAIA men’s cross country coaches’ top 25 poll, released Wednesday by the NAIA.
The Bulldogs are no stranger to the top 25, having finished 24th or better at 12 of the past 13 national championship meets. The highest placement during that stretch came in 2009, when Concordia finished as the national runner up. Last season Einspahr’s men were ranked in all 10 polls, climbing as high as No. 10 with the third poll release of the campaign.
This year’s men’s cross country squad is undoubtedly led by senior Ben Sievert, who placed third in the GPAC and 19th at the national championships in 2013 on the way to earning his first career cross country All-America plaque. The Bulldogs also return four other individuals who competed at last year’s national championships: seniors Josh Allwardt and Charlie Bloomfield, junior Jordan Potrzeba and sophomore Chris Shelton.
Einspahr will be looking for runners to step into the spots vacated by the departures of Beau Billings and Hayden Hohnholt. One candidate to replace them is freshman Matthew Kortze, a Rockford Lutheran High School product and brother of former Concordia All-American Sarah Kortze.
On the women’s side, the Bulldogs were listed among the “others receiving votes” in the national poll. Einspahr hopes that junior Kim Wood will be a dependable frontrunner for a squad that returns the bulk of its top runners from a year ago. Senior Renee Williams was Concordia’s lone all-conference honoree in 2013.
More details on the 2014 cross country squads will be available in our soon-to-come season preview. The season officially begins on Saturday, Sept. 20 at the annual Woody Greeno Invite at Pioneer Park in Lincoln, Neb.