Kregg Einspahr – NAIA men’s outdoor track and field national coach of the year
Zach Lurz – NAIA men’s outdoor national championships most valuable performer of the meet
GULF SHORES, Ala. – On Saturday the Concordia University men’s track and field team did something never before accomplished in the history of Bulldog athletics – win a national title. In a three-day meet that came down to the very last event, head coach Kregg Einspahr’s men tallied 59 points and held off Indiana Tech (55), Wayland Baptist (55) and Oklahoma Baptist (53) for the title. On the women’s side, Concordia tied for fifth with 39 points.
Two Concordia track and field teams (1989 indoor women and 2000 indoor men) had previously notched runner-up national finishes. Behind a star-studded group of throwers, the 2015 Bulldogs took the top spot.
“I certainly did not project that we would have the lead going into the 4x4,” Einspahr said. “Going into the meet I didn’t think that we had much chance of winning the national title. We had a lot of things go our way. I have to give credit to our kids. They really had a good meet. It’s a dream come true for myself, our coaches and our athletes.”
Seventeen individuals combined for a total of 22 All-America performances for the Bulldogs. Four athletes garnered two or more placements on the medal stand and four Bulldogs put up a collective five national runner-up claims to go with Cody Boellstorff’s hammer throw national title.
The men’s championship race ultimately came down to Concordia and Indiana Tech. A national banner hung in the balance as two teams separated by just two points (56-54) readied for the 4x400 meter relay. A day earlier Indiana Tech placed first in the prelims with a time of 3:10.93. However, this time around the Indiana Tech anchor pulled up with an injury causing it to finish eighth in the finals. The Bulldogs, powered by their sophomore anchor CJ Muller, raced to sixth place in a time of 3:15.77 to clinch the team title.
“All of the sudden I heard someone gasp in the crowd,” Einspahr said. “The Indiana Tech runner pulled up a bit and CJ put the pedal to the floor. At that point I knew that we were going to win. It’s just an amazing feeling. There were hugs all around. All of us coaches got dumped in the steeplechase pit. We’ve been together as a staff for quite a while. It’s fun to do this with all of them.”
Zach Lurz, named the meet’s most valuable performer, completed an impressive weekend on Saturday by breaking his own shot put school record. The competition featured a battle between Lurz, the 2015 indoor national champion, and Siena Heights University’s Gauge Aebersold, the defending outdoor national titlist. Lurz popped off a personal best of 57’ 9 ¾.” Aebersold matched it with his throw of 59’ 7 ½” to earn his second-straight national title in the outdoor shot put.
Lurz’s runner up finish gave him his third All-America honor of the meet in addition to top-five national finishes in the hammer throw (second) and discus (fifth). He piled up 20 of the team’s 59 points all by himself.
In Saturday’s pole vault competition, Lucas Wiechman equaled a personal best (16’ ¾”) and Brandon Ramos PR’d (15’ 11”) as both finished in the top five of the event. The All-America honor was the second of the weekend for Wiechman, who recorded his first career top-eight national finish in the pole vault. Ramos
Lurz was joined by three teammates in Saturday’s shot put competition: Jose Rojas (ninth, 52’ 11”), Trey Farmer (10th, 52’ 7 ¼”) and Cody Boellstorff (16th, 51’ 10 ½”). Later in the afternoon, four Bulldogs competed in the women’s discus: Kali Robb (12th, 147’ 9 ½”), Katricia Svoboda (147’ 8 ¼”), Kattie Cleveland (15th, 146’ ¾”) and Stephanie Coley (19th, 142’ 7”).
As part of a solid women’s meet, Liz King totaled the most points (10) of any Bulldog with her second-place javelin and seventh-place hammer throw finishes.
“That was one of our highest-ever finishes on the women’s side,” Einspahr said. “Overall it was a tremendous meet.”
After recording a men’s national title and women’s top-five finish, the Bulldogs packed up and boarded their bus for the long journey back to Seward. Said Einspahr, “This makes 20 hours on a bus a little easier.”
Concordia All-America tracker
Concordia University cross country/track national runner-up finishes
1989 - Women's Indoor Track & Field
2000 - Men's Indoor Track & Field
2000 - Women's Cross Country
2001 - Women's Cross Country
2002 - Women's Cross Country
2004 - Women's Cross Country
2009 - Men's Cross Country
Concordia outdoor national finishes since 2005
2015: M – 1st | W – 5th
2014: M – 11th | W – 9th
2013: M – 42nd | W – 20th
2012: M – 57th | W – 15th
2011: M – 11th | W – 57th
2010: M – 24th | W – 14th
2009: M – 7th | W – 19th
2008: M – 11th | W – 29th
2007: M – 15th | W – 24th
2006: M – 7th | W – 28th
2005: M – 13th | W – 17th
Concordia indoor national finishes since 2000
2015: M – 5th | W – 11th
2014: M – 17th | W – 11th
2013: M – 27th | W – 13th
2012: M – 38th | W – 29th
2011: M – 7th | W – 26th
2010: M – 15th | W – 12th
2009: M – 12th | W – 11th
2008: M – 7th | W – 14th
2007: M – 19th | W – 36th
2006: M – 5th | W – 29th
2005: M – 26th | W – 15th
2004: M – 7th | W – 27th
2003: M – 5th | W – 9th
2002: M – 20th | W – 8th
2001: M – 12th | W – 21st
2000: M – 2nd | W – 12th