Five auto standards produced in '23 outdoor season's first full-scale meet

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 1, 2023 in Track & Field

Central Nebraska Challenge Meet Results

KEARNEY, Neb. – For many Concordia University Track & Field athletes, Saturday (April 1)’s Central Nebraska Challenge marked the start of the 2023 outdoor season. Favorable weather conditions in Kearney, Neb., allowed the Bulldogs to unleash their top athletes across all event groupings with strong results. Five Concordia athletes came away with fresh automatic national qualifying standards at the event co-hosted by Hastings and the University of Nebraska-Kearney at Kearney High School. Athletes from virtually all levels of collegiate competition were present at the meet.

A week earlier, Head Coach Matt Beisel and his staff traveled mostly just distance runners and throwers to the Grand View Viking Relays. This weekend’s meet provided a clearer picture of where the Bulldogs stand.

“Across the board, we’ve been working these athletes pretty hard the past few weeks,” Beisel said. “I was really happy with the distance and middle-distance kids. They came through shining. A highlight for me was Lauren Dawson crushing the school record. We had a lot of good performances across the board. It was a beautiful day – not too windy. It was really a nice day to be outside all day. We couldn’t have asked for much better weather or competition. It was a very competitive field. We had a great time being together as a team. This being our first time out with the full team, I think we showed a lot of promise. I think we’re in a good place.”

The auto marks registered on Saturday came from the likes of Jordan Koepke (400 hurdles), Josie Puelz (pole vault), Adrianna Rodencal (100 hurdles), Darien Semedo (hammer throw) and Zach Zohner (pole vault). Koepke, Puelz and Rodencal each won their respective events and so too did Matthew Boyer in the javelin and Lauren Dawson in the 5,000 meter race walk. The group of Central Nebraska Challenge event runners up included Jenna Esch (400 meters), Rylee Haecker (1,500 meters), Emma Lloyd (discus), Hannah Newton (high jump), Gretchen Stottlemyre (javelin) and Zohner. Not only was Dawson a winner, she broke the women’s race walk school record by finishing in 29:45.12. The previous standard had been 32:11.29 by Rachel Kettner in 2010.

It appears clear that the hurdles will be a strength on the women’s side as Concordia will trot out the 2023 GPAC Indoor Athlete of the Year in Rodencal and the GPAC meet record holder in the 400 hurdles in Koepke. In the 100 hurdles, Rodencal ran 14.40, the second fastest in school history as she beat out a field of 24 competitors. Koepke ran 1:02.71 in the 400 hurdles in beating out all opposition. Rodencal ran 1:07.84 and placed fourth out of the field of 13 individuals in the 400 hurdles.

By the end of indoor season, it was clear that the Bulldogs had the nation’s best combined men’s and women’s pole vault crew. Thanks to Puelz (12’ 1 ½”) and Zohner (16’ 5 ¼”), the group has its first two national qualifying standards of the outdoor season. Zohner (NAIA indoor runner up) picked up where he left off at the indoor national meet in again skying well above 16 feet. As for the rest of the crew, the Central Nebraska Challenge was just a start. Erin Boggs and Amira Cummings both placed in the top five on the women’s side.

The results for Semedo represented a major breakthrough after he made his first career nationals appearance this past indoor season. The native of Sacramento, Calif., competed with the big boys in the “invitational” men’s hammer and popped off a personal best of 184’ 4,” placing him fifth. Two teammates were in that same competition: Dagne’ Buck (174’ 9”) and Ben Moll (174’ 1”). As for Boyer, his winning toss in the javelin measured at 175’ 9.” Other top throws performances were put forth by Connor Asche in shot put (46’ 4 ¾”), Carson Fehlhafer in discus (153’ 11”), Lloyd in discus (135’ 2”), Erin Painter in hammer (155’ 3”), Kamryn Pokorney in shot put (41’ 5 ¼”) and Stottlemyre in javelin (117’ 1”).

Newton’s high jump of 5’ 5” hit the ‘B’ standard in what was a close competition for first place out of 27 athletes. Other ‘B’ marks were achieved by Calvin Rohde in the 1,500 meters (3:54.98) and by Esch in the 400 meters (57.08). The women’s 4x100 meter relay of Emily Loseke, Kayla Kirchner, Kellie Rhodes and Rodencal clocked in at 48.22 and just missed the ‘B’ standard.

There were plenty of other notable happenings on Saturday. In the women’s 5,000 meters, Keegan Beisel clocked a PR of 18:37.15 and placed third out of 27 runners. In the 1,500 meters, Haecker’s second-place time registered at 4:43.00 while Kylahn Freiberg placed seventh in 4:51.36 (her first outdoor race of 2023). On the men’s side of the 400 meters, Colton Meyer ran 49.19 (fourth place). Coach Beisel also continues to be pleased with the progress he’s seeing in the steeplechase. The program’s top steeplechasers at the meet were Kaia Richmond (12:27.87; third) on the women’s side and Nathan Pennekamp (10:07.97; ninth) on the men’s side.

As for the jumps, Josi Noble claimed third place in the triple with a mark of 35’ 6 ¾.” On the men’s side, Myles Sadd was a sixth-place finisher in the long jump (22’ 5 ¼”) and an eighth-place finisher in the high jump (6’ 4 ¾”).

Automatic National Qualifying Standards

·        Jordan Koepke – 400 Hurdles (1:02.71)

·        Josie Puelz – Pole Vault (12’ 1 ½”)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 100 Hurdles (14.40)

·        Darien Semedo – Hammer Throw (184’ 4”)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ 5 ¼”)

Central Nebraska Challenge Event Champions

·        Matthew Boyer – Javelin (175’ 9”)

·        Lauren Dawson – 5,000m Race Walk (29:45.12)

·        Jordan Koepke – 400 Hurdles (1:02.71)

·        Josie Puelz – Pole Vault (12’ 1 ½”)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 100 Hurdles (14.40)

Two weeks after competing at the Grand View Viking Relays, the Bulldogs will be headed back to central Iowa and will take part in the Central College Dutch Invitational in Pella, Iowa, on April 7. More details about the meet can be found HERE.