Sievert shows All-America form to highlight NAIA Preview meet

By on Oct. 11, 2014 in Cross Country

Sievert shows All-America form to highlight NAIA Preview meet

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Assistant

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With potential national qualifying implications on the line and a fantastic chance to prove their worth on a national stage amongst top NAIA competition, the Concordia Bulldogs trekked to Lawrence, Kan., to compete in the NAIA preview meet on the famed Rim Rock Farm course.

Coming off a tough and disappointing finish at the Roy Griak meet in Minnesota, the Bulldogs were anticipating a better performance in Kansas. At the end of the day, however, the women’s squad boarded the bus back home still in the developmental phase while the men had mixed emotions.

On the women’s side, freshman Emily Sivert led the way for the Bulldog women with a time of 19:41. Junior Megan Burma finished in second for Concordia, crossing the line in 20:11.

Burma explained that while it wasn’t the result they were hoping for, the women’s squad did take some strides in the competitive meet.

“I think we all knew we could have done a little better, but regardless of that we came together better than we’ve done before,” Burma said. “Each girl’s time was closer than they have been in the (been) in the past two meets.”

Closing in behind Burma was sophomore Jordyn Sturms in 20:19. Junior Kim Wood was next in 20:44 with freshman Lauren Wilcox bringing in the rear for the top five in 20:53.

Head coach Kregg Einspahr provided insight as to what the women’s squad needs to continue to work on, which has remained the common theme throughout the season.

“We really need to probably get a little better position early in the race to finish better as a team,” Einspahr said. “It’s a lot of young runners and we’re learning about how to run these races. I didn’t think we had a great race. We certainly didn’t have a poor race. We need to do a little bit better in terms of just working as a team. The gals wanted to finish quite a bit better as a team.”

Einspahr’s thoughts on the men’s performance were very similar to those for the women. Having dropped heavily from the rankings, the men were prepared to get themselves back in the top 25 conversation with a solid effort at Rim Rock. The result, however, was not quite what they hoped for.

Senior Ben Sievert paced the Bulldogs with his 6th place overall finish in 25:43. His performance certainly led the way for the men’s squad, though the cast behind him was again reminded of the amount that they need to improve to close the gap between their captain.

“(We) went out and did a good job of getting ourselves in position to run out of,” Einspahr said. “Ben Sievert had a great race today I thought, really a tremendous race. We need to do a better job. We’ve got a huge gap between our number one and our number two runners right now. If we’re going to be a good team, we need to have someone step up and be able to run in that area.”

Einspahr explained what is happening right now with the men’s squad when they enter into the “uncomfortable” part of the race and how it is affecting the overall team performance.  

“We’re losing position from our number two through our number five runners in the race right now. We need to do a better job of getting a little tougher and holding our position in the middle of the race.”

Junior Jordan Potrzeba was second for Concordia in 27:06. Senior Josh Allwardt was next in 27:34 with junior Taylor Mueller not far behind in 27:42. Freshman Kohlton Gabehart was on his heels, finishing in 27:55.

“Overall it was an OK turn out,” Allwardt said. “We didn’t beat some of the teams was wanted to. Dordt had a solid pack that we should be able to beat, but we beat some decent teams like Wayland Baptist. If we can work together as a pack to narrow the gap between our first and second runners, we should be in good shape.”

With just one race left until the conference meet that will decide the fate of the men’s and women’s teams, Burma called on her teammates to toughen up and give themselves more of a chance to compete at a higher level.

“We need to build up a little more confidence and not allow ourselves to settle into the pack,” Burma said. “All of us need to get more competitive and pace ourselves with the leaders.”

Allwardt commented on the upcoming meet, one that will provide the Bulldogs with a chance to start making gains on their conference competitors and to work on closing the gap between Sievert and the number two through number five runners.

“At our next meet we should compete for the win against top conference teams at Mount Marty,” Allwardt said. “We’ve had good success there recently, winning several times in the last few years. It should be a good tune up for the conference championships, where we’re shooting for a top finish. This meet will help the younger guys like Kohlton Gabehart get experience in a smaller field, where running well as a pack becomes extra important.”

The men will have two weeks prepare for the Mount Marty meet, which will be held in Yankton, S.D., on Oct. 25.