Bulldogs break five meet records, add pair of new 'A' standards at Polar Dog

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 19, 2024 in Track & Field

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a wait of six weeks since the most recent meet, Concordia University Track & Field sprung to action on Friday (Jan. 19) while hosting the Concordia Polar Dog Invite. Athletes from 10 different institutions ventured to the Fieldhouse for the meet of more than eight hours in length. When the dust settled, Bulldog athletes combined for 14 event championships, six performances that met the national qualifying standard and five meet records. Kylahn Freiberg starred with fresh ‘A’ standards in the 5,000 meters and as part of the 4x800 meter relay.

Head Coach Matt Beisel came away pleased, especially considering the long layoff. Dangerous travel conditions last week forced Concordia to cancel its participation in two separate meets. The Bulldogs are prepared for things to heat back up over the next month and a half.

“I think the biggest thing was just getting the season going again,” Beisel said. “Coming off a break, whatever meet it is that is our first meet, we never rule out great things happening. We also know that everyone has to knock the rust off mentally and physically. We’re also training them all really hard. We are really working them right now. The main thing I asked of our mid-distance and distance runners was to be competitive and go after it with everything they have. The technical events are the ones most affected by a long layoff. It was about what you would expect. This gives everyone a barometer of where they’re at.”

An cross country All-American this past fall, the Nampa, Idaho, native Freiberg ran the third fastest 5,000 meter race in the history of Concordia Women’s Track & Field. She crossed the finish line in 17:48.25 on Friday while claiming first place, in front of teammate Keegan Beisel (PR of 18:28.97). Freiberg got her day started early in the meet by taking on the second leg of the 4x8. She was joined in the race by Jenna Esch, Julie McIntyre and Rylee Haecker. The group’s time of 9:15.26 broke meet and Walz Fieldhouse records and currently paces the NAIA leaderboard. The school 4x8 record of 9:12.94 has stood since 2014.

Said Beisel of Freiberg, “Her goal was to break 18 minutes and hit the qualifying mark for nationals. She was hitting her pace like clockwork all the way through. I’m super proud of Kylahn. She’s a fantastic young lady with super high expectations for herself. She’s doing all of the lifestyle things right and taking care of herself. She has the proper mindset and it’s coming together … I thought the 4x8 was really exciting to watch.”

Other Bulldogs who hit the ‘A’ standard at the Polar Dog were Adrianna Rodencal in the 60-meter hurdles, Abi Wohlgemuth and Chris Wren in the weight throw and Zach Zohner in the pole vault. The Battle Creek, Neb., native Zohner has announced himself as a real national championship contender. He took a run at 17 feet in Friday’s competition and won it with a personal best of 16’ 8 ¾” for a meet record. The next closest vaulter at the Polar Dog went 15’ 3.” Zohner leads the way for a men’s pole vault crew that also features Mayson Ostermeyer and Jax Jacobson.

Said Zohner, “I think I’m sitting pretty good right about now. With my run, I’m not pushing it too hard and going all out like you should be towards the end of the season. I think I still have a little more in the tank to be able to go up more by indoor nationals.”

The Lincoln Lutheran alum Rodencal continues to shine in the hurdles. The reigning GPAC Indoor/Outdoor Female Athlete of the Year blazed to a first-place time of 8.70 in the finals of the event. She later came back and was the Polar Dog runner up in a 200-meter field of 45 runners. Her time was 25.94. There’s bigger and better to come for Rodencal, who has quickly learned how to navigate the rigors of a college track season.

Said Rodencal, “It’s definitely a lot of trial and error, especially going from a few months (of track) in high school to now basically the entire school year. You have a bunch of meets now. While you want to do well at every meet, you do want to wait to peek. You just can’t get frustrated on meets where you don’t do like you want. Always trust in the coaches. They’re here for a reason. I’m here for a reason. I love what we get to do.”

Not only were Freiberg and Rodencal winners on the track, so too were fellow teammates Esch (400 and 800 meters), Haecker (mile) and Jordan Koepke (600 meters). On the men’s side, Calvin Rohde clocked a winning mile time of 4:19.28 and helped the 4x800 meter relay to a finish in 8:03.09. Rohde ran the leadoff leg before giving way to Trevor Kuncl, Micah Willweber and Trey Robertson.

In the throws, Wren (weight throw) and Abigail Gerber (42’ 2 ¼” in the shot put) reigned supreme at the Polar Dog. Wren’s best toss of the day – 63 feet – came on his final attempt. As for Wohlgemuth, she’s shown she can also hit the ‘A’ standard with consistency. She ranks No. 3 on the NAIA weight throw list with her mark of 58’ 10 ¼” from the Bulldog Early Bird in December. The best results in the men’s shot put were delivered by Darien Semedo, who whirled a throw of 50’ 6 ¾” and placed third. On the women’s side, Kamryn Pokorney was the runner up to Gerber.

Out of the jumps came two Polar Dog champions: Josi Noble (37’ 6 ¾” in the triple jump) and Joel Rathe (22’ 11 ¼” in the long jump). Noble’s mark broke the Polar Dog meet record. The well-rounded Rathe also clocked times of 7.03 in the 60 meters and 22.94 in the 200 meters. In another noteworthy effort from the jumps crew, freshman Zoey Walker placed second while clearing 5’ 5” in the high jump (both first and second place broke the previous meet record). In the men’s triple jump, Jonah Paulsen and Aaron Spivey placed second and third, respectively. Rathe and Walker are both qualified for nationals thanks to their performances at the Early Bird.

On the women’s side of the pole vault, Amira Cummings, Kayla Svoboda and Erin Boggs each cleared 10’ 10 ¾.” Five-time national champion Josie Puelz is expected to be back in action at next week’s home meet. Three women’s vaulters currently own national qualifying marks.

The marks turned in by Rohde in the mile and Semedo in the shot put represented fresh ‘B’ standards. Beisel also noted that the bulk of distance personal bests came from the 5,000-meter races. The top 5,000-meter run on the men’s side was put forth by Jack Ellis, who placed fifth in a time of 16:04.68.

Automatic National Qualifiers

·        Women’s 4x800m Relay (9:15.26) – Jenna Esch; Kylahn Freiberg; Julie McIntyre; Rylee Haecker

·        Kylahn Freiberg – 5,000 Meters (17:48.25)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 60m Hurdles (8.70)

·        Abi Wohlgemuth – Weight Throw (54’ 3 ¾”)

·        Chris Wren – Weight Throw (63’)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ 8 ¾”)

Polar Dog Event Champions

·        Men’s 4x800m Relay (8:03.09) – Calvin Rohde; Trevor Kuncl; Micah Willweber; Trey Robertson

·        Women’s 4x800m Relay (9:15.26) – Jenna Esch; Kylahn Freiberg; Julie McIntyre; Rylee Haecker

·        Jenna Esch – 400 Meters (58.54); 800 Meters (2:22.32)

·        Kylahn Freiberg – 5,000 Meters (17:48.25)

·        Abigial Gerber – Shot Put (42’ 2 ¼”)

·        Rylee Haecker – Mile (5:12.64)

·        Jordan Koepke – 600 Meters (1:39.01)

·        Josi Noble – Triple Jump (37’ 6 ¾”)

·        Joel Rathe – Long Jump (22’ 11 ¼”)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 60m Hurdles (8.70)

·        Calvin Rohde – Mile (4:19.28)

·        Chris Wren – Weight Throw (63’)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ 8 ¾”)

The Bulldogs will remain at home to host the Concordia Classic next weekend (Jan. 26-27). The tentative meet schedule can be found HERE. The program will also host the Concordia Indoor Invite on Feb. 9.