SEWARD, Neb. – The big guns are firing on all cylinders for the Concordia University track and field teams. As part of the two-day Concordia Outdoor Invitational, Bulldog athletes combined for nine event titles, four runner-up finishes and a total of 22 automatic national qualifying marks. In Friday’s hammer throw competitions, Cody Boellstorff broke the school record on the men’s side and Kali Robb equaled it on the women’s side.
The Concordia Invite marked the third meet of the outdoor season for head coach Matt Beisel’s squad. However, it was the first outdoor meet of 2017 for many athletes who competed this weekend.
“It was just a fantastic day,” Beisel said. “We let the sunshine come out and cut them loose. We weren’t the only team out there with really good marks today. Everybody was glad to see some favorable weather. It was really nice to see some of our seniors run the races of their lives. I just saw them all working together. I’m proud to be a Bulldog.”
Most Outstanding Male Athlete of the Meet at the 2017 GPAC and NAIA national championships, Lucas Wiechman turned it up another notch on Saturday. He put together personal bests in three first-place performances with his wins coming in the 110 meter hurdles (14.43), 400 meter hurdles (54.17) and the pole vault (16’ 7 ¼”). His marks in the 110 hurdles and pole vault were both met national qualifying standards.
Among the throwers, who accounted for 16 national qualifying marks at the Concordia Invite, Zach Lurz stood out. After a significant personal best in the hammer on Friday, Lurz came back on Saturday and won the discus (179’ 9”) and placed as the runner up in the shot put (55’ 5 ½”). On the women’s side, Robb turned in a second place toss of 48’ ¾” in the shot put on Saturday.
A host of throwers turned in fresh national marks, including JC Cornelio in the hammer on Friday. Fellow freshman Jacy Embray has also qualified for nationals for the first time thanks to her throw of 142’ 10” in the discus. Other not previously mentioned long tossers with national marks on the weekend were Philip Kreutzer, Samantha Liermann, Sydney Meyer, Adrianna Shaw, Jan Steinbrueck and Tricia Svoboda.
On the track, CJ Muller has found his comfort zone in the 800 meters, an unfamiliar distance for the three-time 600 meter All-American. Muller blazed to a first place finish in a time of 1:51.40, automatically qualifying him for nationals in the 800. The Omaha native beat out a field of 34 runners in the event.
“I came out of high school doing 400s and never would have thought I would run 800s,” Muller said. “Slowly over the years I’ve started running farther races. This year I told Mark (Samuels) that’s what I should really go for. We’ve just been running a lot of mileage and lots of 800s in practice. Here we are, third 800 of the year and a PR.”
Four pole vaulters cleared a national qualifying height, including two on the men’s side and two on the women’s side. Allie Brooks won the women’s competition, leaping 12’ 1 ½.” Teammate McKenzie Gravo cleared the same height, turning in a fresh national mark. In the men’s pole vault, Tyrell Reichert went over 15’ 5” and will join Wiechman in the event at the national championships in May.
The other winner on the track for the Bulldogs was Kohlton Gabehart in the steeplechase (10:00.55). A national qualifier for the first time this past indoor season, Scott Johnson bested the field in the long jump with his mark of 22’ 11 ¼.”
The first national rankings of the outdoor season were released by the USTFCCCA on Wednesday. The Bulldogs were ranked fourth on the women’s side and 13th on the men’s side.