Bulldogs place sixth at GPAC/NAIA Qualifier

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 24, 2023 in Dance


SEWARD, Neb. – Hoping to make a push for a possible national championships bid, the Concordia University Competitive Dance team wound up in sixth place at the 2023 GPAC Championship that doubled as the NAIA Northwest Group Qualifier. The competition unfolded Friday (Feb. 24) inside the Haddix Center in Crete, Neb., where the Bulldogs posted scores of 77.13 in the preliminaries and 82.70 in the finals. Concordia’s total score calculated to 81.31 (75 percent finals and 25 percent prelims). The top five finishers were Doane, Midland, Viterbo, Morningside and Hastings.

Head Coach Mandi Maser’s squad entered the weekend with the 12th highest scoring average in the NAIA at 81.88.

“The GPAC is a tough conference and we represented very well,” Maser said. “Our routine performances were the best they have been all year. Unfortunately, the scores were tough and we had to fight our way to the middle of the ranks. We improved our score in the prelims by more than five points. The Bulldog dancers have had a record breaking season. Emilie (Ashenbach), Madi (Koch) and I are very proud coaches. They worked hard every practice, improved so much and set a new standard for Concordia Dance.”

The Bulldogs improved their score vastly from the 2022 GPAC/NAIA Qualifier when their total came in at 67.99 (seventh place). As a result of strong performances during the individual auditions, Katie Birtell, Rylee Flesner, Taylor Larsen and Avery Lewis (honorable mention) garnered All-GPAC awards. Collectively, they have helped the program enjoy its best competition season ever. The team’s score of 85.9 in a dual with Morningside in January remains the highest single score in program history.

Added Maser, “Outstanding performances throughout the season were done by each of the dancers. Our returners paved the way. Katie, Avery, Maddie (Wittstruck) and Aubrey (Baumann) led the team. Our talented freshmen Ryleigh, Elise (O’Neill) and Taylor set a new standard. Our alternate dancers contributed so much in practice to help us get to a high level and are the most supportive teammates. This season was successful because of who these athletes are as people. They are dedicated to excellence and have excellent work ethic and a devotion to each other that is unmatched. Thank you for cheering us on Bulldog Nation.”

Concordia GPAC competition roster

·        Aubrey Baumann (Chester, S.D.)

·        Katie Birtell (Columbus, Neb.)

·        Ryleigh Flesner (Greeley, Colo.)

·        Taylor Larsen (Ravenna, Neb.)

·        Avery Lewis (Seward, Neb.)

·        Elise O’Neill (North Platte, Neb.)

·        Maddie Wittstruck (Milford, Neb.)

2023 Competition Scores/Results
1/11 – 80.55 (dual vs. College of Saint Mary)
1/19 – 85.9 (dual vs. Morningside)
1/25 – 83.1 (triangular vs. Hastings/Mount Marty)
1/28 – 1st place (CIT)
2/3 – 78.97 (3rd place at Doane Invite)
2/10 – 80.33 (T-4th place at York Crown Classic)
2/11 – 79 / 82.95 (duals vs. Northwestern/William Penn)
2/18 – 84.23 (4th place at Dordt Invite)
2/24 – 81.31 (6th place GPAC Championships / NAIA Qualifier)

The teams that qualify will advance to compete at the 2023 NAIA Competitive Cheer & Dance National Championship held in Ypsilanti, Mich., March 10-11.