YANKTON, S.D. – After four long days of action, the 2021 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships have come to a conclusion. The men’s championships wrapped up on Saturday (March 6) with 10 athletes representing Concordia University Track & Field on the final day in Yankton, S.D. Sophomores Wyatt Loga and Chris Wren collected All-America awards in field events while the 4x400 meter relay officially registered an All-America finish.
When the dust settled, Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads recorded team NAIA national finishes of third (49 points) on the women’s side and 12th (18.5 points) on the men’s side. The women were rewarded with a team trophy on Friday. The men moved up from their 17th place finish a year ago.
“After coming off an exciting women’s meet, we wanted to do well on the men’s side too,” Beisel said. “Looking back at conference, obviously we’re not quite where the women are, but we are continuing to improve. I believed we could get 12th or better if we competed well, so I was happy with that. It wasn’t given to us. Bit by bit, we chipped away at it. Our guys’ 4x4 made the final and ran a season best time post-injury to Xavier (Ross) and Colton (Meyer). They competed really well and ran great.”
In the GPAC dominated weight throw competition, sophomore Chris Wren (Fair Oaks, Calif.) turned in a personal best with his third throw of the day, which landed at 62’ 5 ¾.” That mark yielded a fifth-place finish for Wren, who earned his first All-America award in his first career national meet. GPAC throwers held down five of the eight scoring placements. Wren placed third in the GPAC in the weight throw. As noted by Beisel, Wren is competing at a level that compares favorably in comparison to where Jacob Cornelio (2020 weight throw national champ) was as a sophomore.
Two days after running a time of 3:23.72 in the prelims (first in the heat), the 4x4 group returned to the track in Yankton. Once again, the quartet consisted of Cade Kleckner, Jacob Jennings, Henry Reimer and Colton Meyer (in that order). They shaved the finals time down to 3:22.91 and placed eighth, good for one team point.
Just prior to the 4x4, the Bulldogs competed in the distance medley relay. The foursome of Calvin Rohde, Maccoy Menke, Christian Van Cleave and Camden Sesna clocked in at 10:26.51 and placed ninth out of 10 DMR’s in the finals. Meet officials granted 10 relays entry into the finals due to a timing mishap that occurred in the prelims. Concordia did not record an official time in the prelims, although Beisel’s calculations showed a faster time in the finals.
A clearance of the very first bar of the competition did the trick for sophomore Wyatt Loga in the high jump. He earned eighth place and an All-America award (first of career) by leaping over 6’ 5 ¼.” Beisel noted that Loga nearly cleared the bar on the next height. Loga’s indoor season also included a third-place high jump claim at the GPAC Championships.
The Bulldog men got a good chunk of their team points courtesy of Cody Williams (third in the heptathlon), Zach Bennetts (fifth in the pole vault) and Chase Berry (tied for sixth in the pole vault) on the previous two days. Williams completed his journey through the heptathlon on Friday and moved up significantly with his work in the 60 hurdles and pole vault.
Out of the 37 qualifiers Concordia traveled to the meet, 22 will return home with an All-America plaque (full list below). Of course the major highlights were the individual national titles won by Rachel Battershell (400 meters) and Josie Puelz (pole vault). Battershell is now a two-time 400 meter national champ while Puelz achieved the first pole vault national title for the women’s program since 2003.
2021 Indoor All-Americans
· Rachel Battershell – 400 meters (1st); 4x400m relay (5th)
· Keri Bauer – 4x400m relay (5th)
· Zach Bennetts – pole vault (5th)
· Chase Berry – pole vault (T-6th)
· Morgan De Jong – weight throw (5th)
· Rylee Haecker – DMR (4th); 1,000 meters (8th)
· Kylahn Heritage – DMR (4th)
· Jacob Jennings – 4x400m relay (8th)
· Cade Kleckner – 4x400m relay (8th)
· Sarah Lewis – 4x400m relay (5th)
· Wyatt Loga – high jump (8th)
· Elle Luehr – shot put (5th)
· Erin Mapson – pole vault (4th)
· Colton Meyer – 4x400m relay (8th)
· Kennedy Mogul – DMR (4th)
· Josie Puelz – pole vault (1st)
· Sarah Ragland – weight throw (3rd)
· Grace Reiman – DMR (4th)
· Henry Reimer – 4x400m relay (8th)
· Sydni Schernikau – 4x400m relay (5th)
· Cody Williams – heptathlon (3rd)
· Chris Wren – weight throw (5th)