Day 1 Recap: Richert earns All-America award, relays blaze

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 3, 2022 in Track & Field

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The opening day of the 2022 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships is one worth celebrating for Concordia University Track & Field. School record holder Amy Richert collected her third career All-America award while three Bulldog relays qualified for the finals of their events. As the feel-good story of Thursday (March 3), the 16th-seeded Concordia men’s 4x400 meter relay clinched a spot in the finals while competing without two of the team’s top 400 meter runners. The national meet is being staged at the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex in Brookings, S.D.

The performances on Thursday mean that Head Coach Matt Beisel’s program is set up to claim All-America awards from three relays by the time the weekend concludes. The GPAC champion Bulldog women are coming off 2021 NAIA national finishes of third for both indoor and outdoor.

“We’re proud of every one of these kids for their outstanding effort today,” Beisel said. “This is the way we wanted to kick off the national championships – with momentum, with great things happening that we can feed off of in the coming days. It was great to see Amy make All-American for the first time in the pentathlon and then getting three relays in the finals puts us in position to score points. We know that we can step up really well in the finals. Within those relays, everybody ran phenomenal times. They ran lights out and Amy and Elena (Batenhorst) just killed it on the pentathlon. I’m very grateful to God.”

As the first of two heats in the men’s 4x4, the Concordia grouping of Jacob Jennings, Cade Kleckner, Colton Meyer and Maccoy Menke had to wait out heat two to find out if its season best performance was good enough to reach the finals. There were hugs all around when they realized they had placed eighth overall with a time of 3:16.54. A late add, Menke ran under 50 seconds for his best ever 400 meter split. The team’s best 4x4 time this indoor season had been a 3:19.18 That quartet will be back on the track at 5:15 p.m. CT on Saturday for the finals of the event.

Said Kleckner, “It was a culmination of everything we had worked for all year. We have had a lot of trails this year – things just haven’t gone our way with guys being hurt and not running well or bad handoffs. We knew we had the team to do it, we just had to put it together. Today we finally put a good race together at the biggest meet of the year and got ourselves into the finals.”

Richert had earned an All-America award in the outdoor heptathlon, but never in the pentathlon. She finished the day with 3,382 points, putting her in sixth place. Richert made up some ground in the shot put as part of a strong outing. In her first career appearance at nationals, Batenhorst placed 15th (3,121).

Said Richert, “It’s awesome. I came in just really wanting to compete and get after it with my teammates. I am very thankful that I had Elena with me. It’s an awesome experience.”

The finals qualifications on the women’s side of the relays were less of a surprise, based on national seedings. In the women’s 4x4, the veteran trio of Rachel Battershell, Sarah Lewis and Jacee Pfeifer entered this meet with a combined 19 career All-America awards to their credit. They were joined on Thursday by freshman Jordan Koepke and together they collaborated on a time of 3:50.84, good for a season best and the No. 5 time in the prelims. Koepke ran the fastest split in her first go-round at a national championship meet.

It was Keri Bauer (2:14 split) who provided the biggest boost to a 4x800 meter relay that booked it around the track in 9:16.51 (fourth best in school history), far outrunning the team’s season best of 9:29.48. As the anchor leg, Bauer was preceded by Rylee Haecker, Kylahn Heritage and Grace Reiman. The Bulldogs placed third overall in the prelims, just narrowly finishing behind Friends University (9:16.35) and Taylor University (9:16.48). Haecker, Heritage and Reiman were each part of an All-America distance medley relay a year ago.

Seventeen Bulldogs are scheduled to be in action on Friday as part of day two at the national meet. The second day will kick off at 12 p.m. CT with Andy Amos and Chris Wren in the weight throw and Heritage in the mile. The complete Friday schedule for Concordia competitors can be found below.

2022 NAIA Indoor All-Americans

·        Amy Richert – pentathlon (6th)

Friday (March 4) Concordia Schedule:

Men’s Weight Throw (Friday, 12 p.m.) – Andy Amos, Chris Wren

Women’s Mile Run (Friday, 12 p.m.) – Kylahn Heritage

Men’s Mile Run (Friday, 12:20 p.m.) – Calvin Rohde

Women’s 60m Hurdles (Friday, 12:35 p.m.) – Sarah Lewis

Women’s Long Jump (Friday, 1 p.m.) – Amy Richert

Women’s 400m Dash (Friday, 1:05 p.m.) – Rachel Battershell, Sarah Lewis 

Women’s 600m Run (Friday, 1:45 p.m.) – Keri Bauer, Jordan Koepke, Jacee Pfeifer

Men’s High Jump (Friday, 2 p.m.) – Wyatt Loga

Women’s Pole Vault (Friday, 3 p.m.) – Erin Mapson, Josie Puelz

Women’s Weight Throw (Friday, 3 p.m.) – Morgan De Jong, Abby Gerber, Sarah Ragland

Women’s 1,000m Run (Friday, 3:15 p.m.) – Rylee Haecker

Women's 4x800m Relay (Friday, 5:20 p.m.) - Rylee Haecker, Kylahn Heritage, Grace Reiman, Keri Bauer