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Women's cross country cracks national top 25 after impressive Woody Greeno meet

By on Sep. 25, 2014 in Cross Country

Women’s cross country cracks national top 25 after impressive Woody Greeno meet

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

SEWARD, Neb. – Despite a youthful squad that includes several runners getting accustomed to the rigors of cross country, 23rd-year head coach Kregg Einspahr’s women are already making waves. On Wednesday the Bulldog women’s cross country team cracked the NAIA coaches’ top 25 poll, checking in at No. 23.

It’s a significant rise for a team that received only eight points and was listed 12th among “others receiving votes” just a week earlier. Led by freshman Emily Sievert’s 10th-place individual finish, Concordia opened its season impressively by finishing fourth out of 14 teams in the College division at the annual Woody Greeno Invite. Furthermore, the Bulldogs beat out then No. 17 Doane as well as GPAC rivals Nebraska Wesleyan and Midland.

“I thought we had a real good day,” Einspahr said after the meet. “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.”

After finishing fifth in the GPAC last season, the Bulldogs began this season off the national radar. However, Einspahr believes he has a team capable of exceeding outside expectations.

“I think we’re going to surprise some people this year,” Einspahr said prior to the beginning of the season. “You look at our finish last year and that was one of our poorest in probably nearly 20 years, but we had a lot of youth and bad luck at the end of the season with injuries and sickness. With a year of experience behind us and if we can keep some folks healthy, I think it will be a different game.”

From 1994-2011, the Concordia women’s cross country program finished in the top 20 nationally in all but one season. Included in that run were five conference titles and four national runner-up claims.

Men hold at No. 20: The Concordia men, who also started out strong at Woody Greeno, held steady at 20th in the NAIA poll. Last season the Bulldogs placed 24th at the national meet on the strength of Ben Sievert’s All-America finish.