Women triumph at Dean White, men place fifth

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 28, 2019 in Cross Country

CRETE, Neb. – This was a big day for Concordia University cross country. It was an especially memorable day for the women’s team, which finally unseated conference power Dordt in a meet. Paced by senior Rebekah Hinrichs, the Bulldogs ran to a first-place finish out of eight teams at the Dean White Invited hosted by Doane on Saturday (Sept. 28). The Concordia men placed fifth out of eight squads.

Head coach Matt Beisel’s women’s team now looks like a particularly serious bidder for a national championships berth and perhaps even a conference championship. The Bulldog women outran a Defender team that entered the meet ranked 11th in the NAIA.

“Our girls were so excited,” Beisel said. “Dordt’s a great team. We only beat them by four points. There’s no guarantees going forward that they can’t beat us when it comes to conference. But now instead of saying let’s shoot for second place at conference, I think we have a legitimate shot if we stay healthy and keep our focus of potentially winning the conference title.”

Not only did Hinrichs and company topple Dordt, they also bested NCAA Division II University of Nebraska-Kearney, which placed third. Concordia has had a different No. 1 runner in each of its first three meets. The key has been placing a large pack of runners near the top. Hinrichs placed fifth (19:33.70) at the Dean White Invite and was followed by teammates Kylahn Heritage (19:47.48; 7th), Alyssa Fye (19:50.43; 8th), Sydney Clark (20:05.38; 11th) and Amie Martin (20:09.69; 13th).

Another three Bulldogs finished in the top 30 (out of 109 total runners): Lydia Cook (20:25.97; 23rd), Miranda Rathjen (20:30.55; 26th) and Abi DeLoach (20:39.94; 30th). Out of the aforementioned top eight, only Hinrichs and Rathjen are seniors for a squad now knocking on the door of the NAIA top 25.

Beisel likes the potential he sees in a men’s squad that is filled with freshmen and sophomores at the top of the pack. The Bulldogs did manage to beat out Midland and Hastings on Saturday. One exception is junior Jordan Lorenz, who was first among Concordia runners and placed 22nd overall (27:42.30) on the 8k course. The rest of the top five featured Wyatt Lehr (27:52.02; 27th), Camden Sesna (28:11.53; 34th), Antonio Blaine (28:12.52; 35th) and Owen Dawson (28:34.77; 49th).

“Our men had a really good day,” Beisel said. “You have to look a little deeper to understand why it was such a good day. We graduated three seniors from our top seven. The question was who was going to step up and fulfill those roles? Right now we have four freshmen in our top six. It doesn’t happen overnight. The fact that they’re running this well at this point in the season says to me that really big things can happen by the time we get to conference.”

The women’s cross country program had last finished first in a race in 2011. That particular team qualified for the NAIA national championships. Perhaps this squad is on that same path. Added Beisel, “No matter what happens it’s very important that we speak the Lord’s name and give Him glory for whatever we accomplish.”

The Bulldogs will be in action again next Saturday (Oct. 5) at the Briar Cliff Invite. The meet will get underway at 10 a.m. CT from Adams Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, S.D. At the same event last season, the Concordia women placed fourth out of 14 teams while the men finished sixth out of 12 squads.