Women place second, men fifth at Mount Marty Invite

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 24, 2021 in Cross Country

YANKTON, S.D. – In the final outing prior to the conference championship meet, the Concordia University Cross Country teams were led by the likes of Rylee Haecker and Camden Sesna at the Mount Marty Invite on Saturday (Oct. 23). The 11th-ranked Bulldog women placed second out of 10 teams while the men finished fifth out of 10 squads in an event that featured 129 female and 141 male competitors. The meet was staged at Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton, S.D., where the women’s 5k preceded the men’s 8k.

This marked the fourth meet of the 2021 season for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads, which had been idle since the Briar Cliff Invite on Oct. 1.

Said Beisel, “Both of our teams had hoped for better. We hoped we would continue to be first in the GPAC on the women’s side and have a strong showing on the men’s side to solidify where we were. It didn’t work out that way. The projections don’t mean anything. We still have to step up and do what we need to do. I’m still confident in the training we’re doing and I feel like we’re on track to compete in the GPAC the way we want to. I think we’re still feeling the effects of some rigorous training. I think in the next two weeks our athletes are going to be able to run their very best. Dordt had a great day, and we knew that they could.”


For the first time this fall, the Concordia women were defeated by an NAIA opponent. The Bulldogs had edged out defending GPAC champion Dordt at the season opening Augustana Twilight, but the Defenders reigned supreme on Saturday. Concordia finished with 76 points to Dordt’s 33. On the plus side, Beisel’s squad did beat out GPAC rivals in Northwestern (third), Morningside (fourth), College of Saint Mary (sixth) and Mount Marty (ninth).

Haecker emerged as the team’s top runner for the second meet in a row. She crossed the finish line in 19:03.49, placing her fifth overall. The native of Davenport, Neb., ran just a bit faster three weeks earlier at the Briar Cliff Invite. The Bulldogs put seven runners inside the top 30, including Grace Reiman (19:30.21) who paced Concordia at this season’s first two meets. The team’s top five at the Mount Marty Invite was rounded out by Keri Bauer (19:37.78), Amie Martin (19:40.00) and Rhaya Kaschinske (19:53.70).

Saturday marked the return of Kylahn Heritage, who did not compete in this season’s first three meets. The native of Nampa, Idaho, clocked a 5k time of 20:09.12 and placed 30th overall (seventh on the team). Heritage’s continued progress could be a key in tightening the gap with Dordt. Heritage placed as the GPAC runner up in 2019 when the Bulldogs also captured the conference team championship. Said Beisel of Heritage, “She had a successful venture. Her legs feel great. I made her run conservatively today. She needed to get one under her belt before we start thinking about anything else.”

Twenty women represented the Bulldogs at the meet. That number will be cut down to 10 for the GPAC championships.

Concordia women’s top 10 place finishers (5k):
5. Rylee Haecker – 19:03.49
15. Grace Reiman – 19:30.21
18. Keri Bauer – 19:37.78
20. Amie Martin – 19:40.00
24. Rhaya Kaschinske – 19:53.70
26. Kaia Richmond – 19:59.74
30. Kylahn Heritage – 20:09.12
39. Abi DeLoach – 20:26.07
43. Katelyn Nix – 20:33.19
45. Courtney Wright – 20:39.54


Unfortunately, the Concordia men placed behind two GPAC foes that it had been ranked in front of in the official GPAC poll: Northwestern (second at the Mount Marty Invite) and Morningside (fourth). The Bulldogs point total settled at 132, two behind Morningside (130). Concordia held off conference opposition in Midland (seventh), Mount Marty (eighth), Jamestown (ninth) and Briar Cliff (10th).

A terrific season for Sesna (Kearney, Neb.) carries on. He’s been the Bulldogs’ top runner at every meet this season. Sesna clocked an 8k time of 25:55.28 on Saturday while placing eighth overall. Said Beisel of Sesna, “Camden ran the second fastest race of his life and was right in the mix with the fastest guys in the conference. The course we ran definitely had plenty of long, gradually sloping hills, which is different from what we’ve run on. It was not an easy course by any means.”

The rest of the team’s top 10 (see below) in Yankton was decidedly youthful. It featured 10 first-year members of the program with Sam Plante (27:33.01) leading the way amongst that group. Calvin Rhode was next on the team after Sesna with a time of 27:09.82. The top five was rounded out by Nathan Pennekamp (28:09.79) and Jackson Smith (28:23.43). Concordia had a large cluster in the 60s with five runners placing in the 63rd through 69th range.

The Bulldogs were represented by 17 men’s competitors. Just like with the women, the roster will be trimmed to 10 for the GPAC meet.

Concordia men’s top 10 place finishers (8k):
8. Camden Sesna – 25:55.28
32. Calvin Rohde – 27:09.82
42. Sam Plante – 27:33.01
57. Nathan Pennekamp – 28:09.79
63. Jackson Smith – 28:23.43
64. Charlie Hayden – 28:25.65
65. Jack Ellis – 28:26.63
66. Micah Willweber – 28:27.18
68. Ethan Pankow – 28:29.77
69. Thomas Gorline – 28:32.50

UP NEXT: The Bulldogs now have two weeks to prepare for the GPAC Cross Country Championships, which are coming up on Saturday, Nov. 6. The meet will be held in Orange City, Iowa, home to Northwestern. Concordia will be looking to improve upon last year’s GPAC finishes of fourth on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side.