NOTE: The results originally incorrectly listed Liz King's javelin mark at 129' 3". King won the javelin competition with her throw of 153' 1".
SEWARD, Neb. – Freshman Zach Lurz continues to see his star rise among a powerful group of Concordia University throwers as Bulldog track and field (ranked No. 8 in the NAIA on the men’s side and 12th on the women’s side) played host for the first time this spring with the annual Concordia Outdoor Invite on Saturday.
Near perfect weather with light winds and warm temperatures allowed for better times on the track for several Concordia standouts, it was the Bulldogs’ Lurz who impressed the most.
Lurz, named GPAC field athlete of the week on Wednesday, simply picked up where he left off a week earlier. He won both the shot put (57’ 3”) and the discus (166’ 1”) and in the process out-distanced Brock Simonsen’s former school record of 56’ 4 ¾” (May 23, 2009) in the shot. Last week Lurz became the first thrower in program history to record national qualifying marks in the discus, hammer and shot put in the same season.
“All the best throws kind of just jump out of your hand,” Lurz said. “Sometimes it’s just like, ‘hey that didn’t go very far.’ Today it did. I think I got lucky on my last throw. I jumped in front of a guy who was leading (the shot put) so I was pretty happy about it.”
Similarly impressive, Shelby Yelden piggy-backed last week’s NAIA-leading pole vault clearance of 12’ ½” by putting up a mark of 11’ 9 ¾” on Saturday. By way of again surpassing the national qualifying height, the Seward native won the event at the Concordia Invite.
“I had to put it out of the back of my head that I had qualified (for nationals) last week,” Yelden said. “It was a relief and a weight off my shoulders. Today it was kind of about having fun. We got a couple new poles in this week so I was able to jump on those. It was experience on those poles in competition.”
The Bulldogs took titles in a total of nine events: the men’s 4x400 meter relay (3:21.01), John Cartier (200 meter dash, 21.72), Ben Hinckfoot (400 meter hurdles, 53.78), Liz King (javelin, 153' 1"), Lurz (discus and shot put), Katelyn Shoup (triple jump, 38’ 3 ¼” – national qualifying mark), Kim Wood (1,500 meter run, 4:50.17) and Yelden (pole vault).
Hinckfoot’s 400 meter hurdle time was a breakthrough performance that automatically qualified him for nationals. Last season he set the school record in the event with his time of 52.99 at the national championships, earning himself All-America honors.
“Ben ran a very good time. He had an excellent race,” head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “Our guys in the intermediates are running very well. Trevor Bresson was pushing Ben up until the last 100 meters. It was a very good race for those guys.”
Bulldog dominance was on full display in the men’s hammer throw, where Cody Boellstorff placed runner up with a mark of 191’ 7”. He was followed by Lurz in third (186’ 3” – personal best) and Trey Farmer in fifth (174’ 9” – personal best and national qualifying mark).
“It’s insane,” Lurz said of Concordia’s stable of men’s throwers. “Watching Cody throw is cool. Over the next few years you have to keep an eye on us. We’re going to be good. It’s like competing against national level talent every day. It really drives me.”
Concordia also hogged the top of the heap in the men’s hurdles. Hinckfoot, Bresson and Jonathon Becker finished 1-2-3 in the 400 meter hurdles and Hinckfoot and Becker placed second and third, respectively, in the 110 meter hurdles.
In the men’s 100 meter dash, Cartier finished third (10.968) and Tai Pleasant fourth (10.970) in a tightly bunched grouping.
Sophomore Stephanie Coley entered the day with a ‘B’ standard national qualifying mark in the shot put but bumped it up to an ‘A’ by reaching 44’ 8 ¾”.
Saturday also saw the return of four-time All-American senior Jena Schwalenberg to the track. She placed third in the 1,500 meter run (4:55.28) and fourth in the 5,000 meter run (19:15.16).
Steady distance runner Ben Sievert completed the 1,500 meter run in 4:00.25 for a second-place time.
“Overall it was a real good day for us,” Einspahr said. “We looked real good. I think we still have some work to do in the distances but Hayden Hohnholt looked a little bit better in the steeplechase this week.”
The favorable weather helped the Concordia Invite go off without a hitch once again.
“Warm weather makes a big difference for us,” Einspahr said. “Coach (Mark) Samuels and Coach (Ed) McLaughlin ran off a great meet. We take pride in running it very efficiently.”
Concordia continues the outdoor season with the Doane Relays in Crete, Neb., on April 18-19.