GULF SHORES, Ala. – It’s been a 2021 to remember for Concordia University Women’s Track & Field. Not only did the Bulldogs sweep indoor/outdoor GPAC titles, they can now claim NAIA third place national finishes for both indoor and outdoor. Between the Bulldog men and women, the three-day 2021 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships yielded at least one All-America plaque for 16 individuals, including three national champions.
Head Coach Matt Beisel’s women’s team produced a total of 63.5 points (16.5 on day three) while placing behind only Indiana Tech (84) and William Carey (Miss.) (65). On the men’s side, Concordia got all of its 10 team points via Jacob Cornelio’s hammer throw national title and tied for 28th. The placement for the women marked the best for the program at an outdoor national meet since winning the 2016 national title.
“I’m just grateful to God,” Beisel said. “We have such a great group of athletes and coaches. I’m super proud of all of them. We gave it our best and ended up getting a third place trophy. To have two third places in one year is outstanding. The significance of that is not lost on me. I’m very proud of the effort of our guys. I’m super sad, and glad, for our seniors. We have a lot of seniors moving on. Such a great experience to have them as part of our team. Huge kudos to our coaching staff as well.”
A two-time NAIA national champion, Rachel Battershell gave it another run at a 400 meter championship. In the finals of the event, the native of Wheatland, Wyo., strode to a time of 55.75 and placed third behind the first and second place times of 55.29 and 55.33, respectively. Battershell’s hectic few days at the national meet also included her anchoring the 4x400 meter relay that closed the week out with an eighth-place finish.
The 4x4 crossed the finish line at 3:51.32 in the finals. In the prelims, Concordia turned in a time of 3:49.51, just shy of the school record. Five Bulldogs contributed to the All-America 4x4: Jacee Pfeifer, Sarah Lewis, Sydni Schernikau, Battershell and Keri Bauer. Lewis has been dynamic in her own right in events that cover 400 meters. She also notched her first career All-America honor in an individual event by taking eighth in the 400 hurdles. She ran the finals of the event in 1:02.80.
Said Lewis, “Being part of the program is huge. It’s home and it’s family. Teammates aren’t just teammates. They are sisters in Christ. The opportunity is huge. We didn’t get an outdoor season last year – I’m super blessed and proud that we accomplished what we did.”
Shaw may have had higher hopes for the week, but that’s because of the lofty standards she has set. Though she fell short of winning a national title, the legendary Bulldog pushed her career All-America total to 11 by placing fifth in the hammer, fifth in discus and sixth in shot put. Her collegiate run ended on Friday with Shaw turning in a mark of 146’ 1” in the discus. Shaw’s career achievements also included two national titles in discus, three national runner up claims and four individual GPAC titles.
Throws coach Ed McLaughlin knows first-hand just how special Shaw has been for the program. Said McLaughlin, “Addie is an amazing woman who has given so much of herself to this program, this school and this sport. Her tenacity and dedication is second to none. I was so excited when she decided to use her final year of eligibility. We had a lot of fun this year and she accomplished so much. She did so much for us and I hope she knows she will be missed. Her impact on our family will be far reaching. She is a Bulldog through and through and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.”
Concordia qualified an impressive total of six competitors in the women’s discus. Sara Huss joined Shaw in the finals and wound up in sixth place (145’ 11”) in the process of grabbing her first ever All-America accolade. The rest of the Bulldog field featured Bethany Shaw (14th), Alli Owings (19th), Erin Painter (23rd) and Morgan De Jong (26th).
Also a member of a national championship Concordia Women’s Basketball team, Mackenzie Koepke secured the first All-America award of her career by placing in a tie for seventh in Friday’s high jump. Koepke shared that placement with three others, including teammate Amy Richert. Both Bulldogs cleared 5’ 4 ½” while making that height on their first attempts. Richert was also a sixth-place finisher in the heptathlon.
It’s worth noting that four throwers who competed this week each made the decision to come back for an extra season of eligibility (granted due to the COVID-19 cancellation of the 2020 outdoor season). Those individuals were Jacob Cornelio, Jerod Peters, Bethany Shaw and Addie Shaw. Cornelio took advantage by winning the hammer national title. Meanwhile, Peters was the final Bulldog men’s athlete to compete on Friday. He placed 23rd in the shot put.
In his tenure as throws coach, Ed McLaughlin has presided over 19 individual throws national champions. Cornelio and Liz Stottlemyre (javelin) became the latest titlists. Cornelio, Stottlemyre and Josie Puelz (pole vault) all celebrated their national titles on Wednesday.
The complete All-America list for the week can be viewed below. Puelz won both the indoor and outdoor pole vault national championships in 2021.
2021 NAIA Outdoor All-Americans
· Jordyn Anderson – 4th in shot put
· Rachel Battershell – 3rd in 400 meters; 8th in 4x400m relay
· Keri Bauer – 8th in 4x400m relay
· Jacob Cornelio – 1st in hammer throw
· Sara Huss – 6th in discus
· Mackenzie Koepke – T-7th in high jump
· Sarah Lewis – 8th in 400 hurdles; 8th in 4x400m relay
· Emily Loy – 5th in heptathlon
· Erin Mapson – 7th in pole vault
· Jacee Pfeifer – 8th in 4x400m relay
· Josie Puelz – 1st in pole vault
· Sarah Ragland – 3rd in hammer throw
· Amy Richert – 6th in heptathlon; T-7th in high jump
· Sydni Schernikau – 8th in 4x400m relay
· Addie Shaw – 5th in hammer throw; 5th in discus; 6th in shot put
· Elizabeth Stottlemyre – 1st in javelin
School records broken this week
· Women’s 4x100 meter relay – Emily Loy, Rachel Battershell, Hannah Mulligan, Cora Olson (47.66)
· Jacob Cornelio, hammer throw (219’)
· Emily Loy, heptathlon (4,733)
· Liz Stottlemyre, javelin (167’ 2”)