GULF SHORES, Ala. – It was a celebratory opening day of the 2021 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships for Concordia University Track & Field. Three Bulldogs basked in national championship glory under the Gulf Shores, Ala., sun at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. NAIA national titles were seized by Jacob Cornelio, Josie Puelz and Elizabeth Stottlemyre. Not only that, Cornelio, Stottlemyre and the women’s 4x100 meter relay broke school records.
At the close of day one of three, Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads have accumulated 32 points on the women’s side and 10 points on the men’s side. Those points came courtesy of six All-America awards collected on Wednesday (May 26). The Bulldogs currently lead the women’s standings while the men rank in a tie for first.
Stottlemyre began the afternoon on Wednesday with a storybook finish to her Bulldog career. On her very last throw, the Concordia-Portland transfer broke into tears after her javelin toss landed at 167’ 2,” breaking the previous school record of 166’ 11” by Liz King. Those were tears of joy for Stottlemyre, whose family made it to the national meet via the state of Washington. She won the competition by nearly 15 feet.
Said Stottlemyre, “It was very surreal. It was great. I was speechless. I saw where it landed and I was kind of in disbelief. I could not be happier – I couldn’t ask for anything more. I came out today and I was really happy with the weather and just hoping I could get a good throw in. It surpassed my expectations by a lot.”
A Lincoln Lutheran alum, Puelz completed an impressive double by sweeping 2021 NAIA indoor and outdoor national titles in the pole vault. A school record holder and a GPAC meet record holder, Puelz is on her way to legendary status. In this instance, Puelz cleared 13’ 3 ½” while holding off second place Tyler Fugate of Siena Heights (Mich.). She was thrilled to do it this time in front of a large contingent of family members.
Said Puelz, “It means a lot. To God be the glory for everything. It’s an honor to be able to represent Concordia in that way. Whether it went great or poorly today, life goes on. I just kept that in mind today. I’m so excited for the team. I felt like I did my part and I just wanted to contribute as much as possible.”
While Puelz won the pole vault title, Erin Mapson placed seventh (12’ 3 ½”) and picked up her fourth career All-America award. Amira Cummings no-heighted as she made her second national appearance in the pole vault.
Now a six-time All-American, Cornelio got emotional after winning the hammer throw. The native of Elk Grove, Calif., put together the best hammer series ever by a Bulldog thrower while routinely posting marks of well over 200 feet. A loud roar rang up from onlookers when Cornelio unleashed a school record breaking throw of 219 feet. Cody Boellstorff previously held the program standard at 216’ 6.” Cornelio was joined by five teammates in the event: Chris Wren (13th), Dagne’ Buck (22nd), Andy Amos (25th), Jerod Peters (26th) and Ben Moll.
Also the 2020 NAIA indoor weight throw national champ, Cornelio soaked up the rewards of returning to Concordia for one more year. Said Cornelio, “I always had this goal in mind. To have achieved it just feels like a weight (lifted off). It’s the most impactful period on the end of the book that I could have ever written.”
On the women’s side of the hammer, the decorated Addie Shaw placed fifth with her mark of 175’ 8.” Chalk up career All-America award No. 9 for the native of Bassett, Neb. Meanwhile, teammate Sarah Ragland reeled in her second career All-America award by placing third in the hammer (177’ 8”). Bethany Shaw also competed in hammer and placed 12th.
The women’s 4x100 meter relay came up short of qualifying for the finals of the event, but the Concordia group of four broke the school record for the second time this season. The quartet featured Emily Loy, Rachel Battershell, Hannah Mulligan and Cora Olson. They finished 10th overall in the prelims with a time of 47.66.
Loy and Amy Richert have positioned themselves for potential All-America awards on Thursday when the heptathlon will wrap up. At the conclusion of day one, Richert (2,894) and Loy (2,760) rank second and fifth, respectively with four of seven events scored. The final three events (long jump, triple jump and 800 meters) will be contested on day two. Both Bulldogs are aiming for their first career All-America awards.
Sarah Lewis will officially earn her fifth career All-America award on Friday. The Mason City, Iowa, native clocked a 400 meter hurdles time of 1:03.03 on Wednesday while placing sixth in the preliminaries and locking up a spot in the finals. Lewis entered the meet seeded seventh.
The men also took to the track in two additional events. Cade Klecker placed 24th overall in the 200 meters (22.06). Before running the 200, Kleckner joined the 4x100 meter relay that included Joel Rathe, Jacob Jennings and Colton Meyer. The group appeared on its way to a possible season best before being doomed by a dropped baton.
The action on Thursday will begin in the morning and span late into the evening for Concordia. A look at the schedules for the second and third days can be viewed HERE. Battershell will take to the track for two individual events (100 hurdles and 400 meters) as the Bulldog women continue their pursuit of a team national championship.
2021 NAIA Outdoor All-Americans
· Jacob Cornelio – 1st in hammer throw
· Erin Mapson – 7th in pole vault
· Josie Puelz – 1st in pole vault
· Sarah Ragland – 3rd in hammer throw
· Addie Shaw – 5th in hammer throw
· Elizabeth Stottlemyre – 1st in javelin