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Sieverts top Bulldogs; young runners come through with strong debuts

By on Sep. 20, 2014 in Cross Country

Sieverts top Bulldogs; young runners come through with strong debuts

LINCOLN, Neb. – Based on the season-opening Woody Greeno Invite on Saturday, the Concordia University women’s cross country team may be a surprise to outsiders. Led by freshman Emily Sievert, the Bulldogs out-paced their conference rivals, including No. 17 Doane. The men also put together a solid overall day in their 8K race held at Pioneer Park in Lincoln, Neb.

As part of the College division, the Bulldog women placed fourth among 14 teams at Woody Greeno while the 20th-nationally ranked men finished fifth out of 13 teams. Both of 23rd-year head coach Kregg Einspahr’s teams placed above the GPAC field that included Doane, Nebraska Wesleyan and Midland.

Einspahr came away pleased with his young group of women. Sievert, who hails from Frankemuth, Mich., finished in 24:03.20 and placed 10th out of 138 runners in the College division. She was a frontrunner for a pack of Bulldogs whose top six was made up of four competitors making their collegiate debuts.

“I thought we had a real good day,” Einspahr said of the women, who are receiving votes in the national poll. “We ran really well. I was happy with Emily and Megan (Burma) and Kim (Wood) got in position early and finished well. I was pleased with Beth Rasmussen and Jordyn Sturms for their first times out. Jordyn is going to be a very good runner.

“They’re going to continue to get better. You’re always happy when you beat your conference rivals.”

Wood followed Sievert with a 24th-place finish by clocking in at 24:55.40 on the 6K course. The rest of the team’s top six included Sturms (25:05.30 – 27th), Rasmussen (25:05.90 – 29th), Burma (25:18.00 – 36th) and freshman Lauren Wilcox (25:20.80 – 38th).

As Einspahr noted, four of the six are either freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Sievert’s fine work did not shock her head coach.

“She was one of the top high school runners in Michigan,” Einspahr said. “It doesn’t really surprise me. She actually didn’t have her best race. She struggles a little bit with her breathing in warm and humid conditions like today. She should be even better when we start having cooler conditions.”

On the men’s side, Ben Sievert, the older brother of Emily, again showed off All-America form by placing eighth out of 181 runners with his time of 26:34.10, a rock solid time given the slick and muddy conditions caused by overnight rain.

“Ben ran really well,” Einspahr said. “Overall with all schools factored in he was 16th or 17th. It’s hard to say what to take away with the conditions like they were. The times were the slowest I’ve seen for the men in my 20-plus years here.”

Jordan Potrzeba was next in line for the Concordia men with his 33rd-place finish in a time of 28:10.90. The rest of the top six included senior Josh Allwardt (28:26.80 – 39th), junior Taylor Mueller (29:14.20), freshman Kohlton Gabehart (29:24.30 – 70th) and senior Andrew Malan (29:35.60 – 77th).

Einspahr liked the way Gabehart acquitted himself in his first college race.

“Kohlton is a real good competitor,” Einspahr said. “He’s getting stronger and he’s a really nice runner. He’s been a little bit of a surprise to me. He’s going to be a really good college runner and will continue to get better and better.”

The Bulldogs will compete in an even larger meet next Saturday when they take part in the annual Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn. The meet is one of the largest combined collegiate/prep cross country events in the United States.

It will be another great test for Einspahr’s improving squads.

“These two teams should get better as the season goes on,” Einspahr said. “We have to bring them along slowly based on the type of runners they are and the experience levels they have.”