SEWARD, Neb. – The 2022 indoor season is officially underway for Concordia University Track and Field. The program welcomed athletes from nine opposing institutions during the two-day Concordia Early Bird Meet (Dec. 10-11) held inside the Fieldhouse. The yields for the Bulldogs included eight automatic national qualifying marks and 12 event championships. From an individual perspective, Sarah Lewis stole the show by qualifying for nationals in each of her three events on Saturday.
This was a quality start for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads, who aspire to compete for conference titles this winter. The Early Bird simply serves as an appetizer for the main course coming up after New Year’s.
Said Beisel, “This is one of those meets every year where we really have some big things to celebrate and some things where maybe we wanted a little bit more. I saw that in multiple different events. Overall, I think we’re in a good place going into Christmas break. I had several people say that they are motivated to work hard over the next four weeks … Sarah Lewis had a phenomenal day. I could go on and on. I’ll learn a lot more as I dig into the results.”
It makes sense to start with Lewis, the native of Mason City, Neb. She clocked a personal best of 8.87 in the 60 meter hurdles and then an indoor PR of 58.10 in the 400 meters. Lewis won the Early Bird title in the 60 hurdles while placing second in the 400 meters. Her time in the hurdles represented a meet record. She wasn’t done yet. Lewis teamed up with Jordan Koepke, Trinity Tuls and Jacee Pfeifer for a national qualifying time of 3:56.83 in the 4x400 meter relay (also a meet record). That was done without two-time 400 meter national champion Rachel Battershell in the mix.
Lewis likely could not have dreamed up a better start to the season. Said Lewis, “I’m really blessed. There was a lot of hard work that went into the fall. I had some nerves and concerns about hitting PR’s that I hit last year. After today, it’s an overwhelming sense of blessing and God’s work through the team and through me.”
The crew of throwers came away with three auto marks in the weight throw, courtesy of Andy Amos, Morgan De Jong and Chris Wren. In addition, Olivia Buschow popped off a weight throw mark that met the ‘B’ national reporting standard. Both De Jong and Wren will look to repeat as NAIA weight throw All-Americans this season. Said Wren, “I wanted a little more, but I’ll take what I can get. God is good. I’ve been praying about it and I got it right out of the gate, so I don’t have to worry about it next semester. I just have to work on improving.”
While making her first meet appearance since completing a sweep of 2021 NAIA pole vault national titles, Josie Puelz once again vaulted over 13 feet (13’ 2 ¼”) and won the Early Bird competition. In addition, Amira Cummings (two-time national qualifier) cleared an automatic national qualifying height of 11’ 6 ½.” Between the men’s and women’s pole vault crews, Concordia will expect to earn additional national qualifying marks next semester.
In action on Friday, Amy Richert (2021 All-American) made a run at the school record in the pentathlon, piling up 3,386 points. That total was just shy of the program standard of 3,410 points by Jessica Deterding. Based on the current leaderboard, Richert now ranks No. 2 nationally in the pentathlon. She was the Early Bird champion in both the pentathlon and the high jump. A complete list of event winners can be found at bottom.
“I just wanted to go out there, have fun and compete,” Richert said. “Winning was just icing on the cake. I was really, really trying to get it (the school record). Now it just gives me more motivation in pushing to work harder and hopefully get past it.”
Buschow (52’ 10 ¾” in the weight throw) was one of three Bulldogs to record a ‘B’ standard mark on Saturday, joining Wyatt Loga (6’ 7” in high jump) and Calvin Rohde (8:38.77 in 3,000 meters). Rylee Haecker just missed a ‘B’ time in the 1,000 meters while finishing in first place in 3:04.96.
In another noteworthy effort, Cora Olson turned in winning races and meet records in the 60 meter dash (7.91) and in the 200 meter dash (25.93). Olson was also one of six Bulldogs to compete in the women’s long jump, an event won by Jamey Broman (17’ 7 ½”). Elsewhere on the track, the men’s 4x400 meter relay clocked in at 3:26.45, a time that will surely improve. The 4x4 group featured Mark Cooke, Maccoy Menke, Jacob Jennings and Colton Meyer. A transfer, Cooke made his Concordia debut on Saturday. He also placed second in the 400 meters in a time of 50.46.
The Bulldogs will be idle over the Christmas/semester break and then eventually kick things back into gear for the Scott Nisely Memorial Classic (hosted by Doane) and the University of Nebraska Graduate Classic the weekend of Jan. 14-15. Concordia is slated to host three additional meets this indoor season.
Automatic National Qualifying Marks
· Women’s 4x4 – Koepke, Lewis, Tuls, Pfeifer (3:56.83)
· Andy Amos – weight throw (57’ 10 ¼”)
· Amira Cummings – pole vault (11’ 6 ½”)
· Morgan De Jong – weight throw (55’ 5”)
· Sarah Lewis – 60 hurdles (8.87); 400 meters (58.10)
· Josie Puelz – pole vault (13’ 2 ¼”)
· Amy Richert – *pentathlon (3,386 pts)
· Chris Wren – weight throw (61’ 8 ½”)
*Met minimum national reporting standard of 2,950 in the pentathlon.
Early Bird Event Champions
· Women’s 4x4 (Koepke, Lewis, Tuls, Pfeifer)
· Women’s 4x8 (Haecker, Reiman, Richmond, Kaschinske)
· Jamey Broman (long jump)
· Rylee Haecker (1,000 meters)
· Sarah Lewis (60 hurdles)
· Cora Olson (60 meters; 200 meters)
· Josie Puelz (pole vault)
· Grace Reiman (3,000 meters)
· Amy Richert (pentathlon; high jump)
· Kailey Weichel (600 meters)