Freiberg, Walker match school standards; Bulldogs win 17 event titles at Central Invite

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 28, 2024 in Track & Field

PELLA, Iowa – Sunny skies and warmer weather on Thursday (March 28) allowed Concordia University Track & Field to kick off the 2024 outdoor season across all event areas. The Bulldogs joined a field including 15 institutions at the Central College Dutch Invite and came away with 17 event titles, four fresh automatic national qualifying standards and a pair of school records. Kylahn Freiberg became the new standard bearer in the 3,000 meters while Zoey Walker equaled the program record in the high jump.

Head Coach Matt Beisel’s men’s and women’s squads have combined for nine NAIA auto marks in the early going of the ’24 outdoor campaign. The throwers got the outdoor season started last week with five ‘A’ standards at the Bethel Invite.

“We had a lot of middle and long distance runners put together great days,” said Beisel while still processing the results late on Thursday evening. “With the heavy training we’ve been doing, we weren’t sure what would happen. I know we had some great things happen in other event areas. We were happy with the weather conditions. That gave us an opportunity to get some really good work done. First meet, you always have a mixed bag of results because of it being so long since everyone has competed. There were a lot of things to be happy about as well as some learning experiences. I saw a lot of laughter and positivity. I always love to see that with our team.”

An astounding fifth year of competition continues for the distance extraordinaire Freiberg. Already the program indoor record holder in the 3,000 meters (10:05.72), Freiberg went ahead and clocked a school all-time best of 9:54.40 in the 3,000 on Thursday (good for first place in the meet). The previous record of 10:00.10 had been held by Amy Luft since 1997. As part of the Central Invite, Freiberg also took first place in the 800 meters (2:18.90) as she held off teammates Rylee Haecker (2:19.50) and Rhaya Kaschinske (2:22.18), the second and third-place finishers, respectively.

While the 3,000 meters is not run at GPAC or NAIA national meets for outdoor, Freiberg wanted to take advantage of one opportunity to set another record. Said Beisel, “She broke our indoor record and she saw what the record was for outdoor. We never see the 3,000 at any other meet. She thought it would be fun to chip that one off. She ran really well.”

The fresh ‘A’ standards achieved in Pella came courtesy of Jenna Esch in the 400 meters (56.66), Jordan Koepke in the 400-meter hurdles (1:01.93), Walker in the high jump (5’ 6”) and Zach Zohner in the pole vault (16’ ¾”). In addition, Matthew Boyer (196’ 5” in the javelin), Carson Fehlhafer (16.03 meters in the shot put), Abby Gerber (46’ 9 ½” in the shot put), Darien Semedo (52’ 5 ½” in the shot put) and Chris Wren (189’ in the hammer) repeated auto marks in their respective throwing events. The freshman Walker of Osceola, Neb., built upon her All-America claim from indoor season. Her mark in the high jump equaled the outdoor school record held by Bonnie Jelinek since 1986.

A junior from Hastings, Neb., Esch deserves special mention after she collected three All-America awards this past indoor season. She emerged as the Central Invite champion in the 200 (25.53) and 400 meters (56.66) with personal bests in both events. Additional not previously mentioned first-place finishers on the track on Thursday were the women’s 4x100 meter relay (48.08), Jack Ellis in the 10,000 meters (33:13.51), Haecker in the 1,500 meters (4:44.50), Adrianna Rodencal in the 100-meter hurdles (14.70) and Calvin Rohde in the 5,000 meters (14:49.27). Haecker already owns the school 1,500-meter record of 4:33.84. Rohde was hoping to make a run at the school’s 5,000-meter record of 14:42.07 by Luka Thor. The women’s 4x1 was made up of Cambria Saunders, Kayla Kirchner, Kellie Rhodes and Rodencal.

The event championships kept on coming in the field events. Other first-place finishers included Boyer in the javelin, Gerber in the shot put (46’ 9 ½”), Josi Noble in the triple jump (36’ 1 ½”) and Kiki Nyanok in the long jump (17’ 9 ¾”). Concordia also made it a sweep in the pole vault as the reigning national champion Zohner (16’ ¾”) won on the men’s side and Sydney Reichert (11’ 1 ¾”) rose above the competition on the women’s side. Gerber is the reigning GPAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week. Also a starting defensive lineman for Concordia Football, Fehlhafer has hit the ‘A’ standard in the shot put in back-to-back weeks. So too have All-Americans in Gerber and Semedo.

The group of second-place Bulldogs at the Central Invite was made up of Hannah Beintema (steeplechase), Abby Gerber (hammer), Thomas Gorline (10,000 meters), Haecker (800 meters), Jax Jacobson (pole vault), Hayden Kluthe (400-meter hurdles), Jonah Paulsen (triple jump), Nathan Pennekamp (steeplechase), Josie Puelz (pole vault), Joel Rathe (long jump), Amy Richert (high jump), Trey Robertson (5,000 meters), Gretchen Stottlemyer (javelin) and Wren (hammer).

Automatic National Qualifying Standards

·        Matthew Boyer – Javelin (196’ 5”)

·        Jenna Esch – 400 Meters (56.66)

·        Carson Fehlhafer – Shot Put (16.03 meters)

·        Abby Gerber – Shot Put (46’ 9 ½”)

·        Jordan Koepke – 400m Hurdles (1:01.93)

·        Darien Semedo – Shot Put (52’ 5 ½”)

·        Zoey Walker – High Jump (5’ 6”)

·        Chris Wren – Hammer Throw (189’)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ ¾”)

Central Invite Event Champions

·        Women’s 4x100 Meter Relay (48.08) – Cambria Saunders, Kayla Kirchner, Kellie Rhodes, Adrianna Rodencal

·        Matthew Boyer – Javelin (196’ 5”)

·        Jack Ellis – 10,000 Meters (33:13.51)

·        Jenna Esch – 200 Meters (25.53); 400 Meters (56.66)

·        Kylahn Freiberg – 800 Meters (2:18.90); 3,000 Meters (9:54.40)

·        Abby Gerber – Shot Put (46’ 9 ½”)

·        Rylee Haecker – 1,500 Meters (4:44.50)

·        Jordan Koepke – 400m Hurdles (1:01.93)

·        Josi Noble – Triple Jump (36’ 1 ½”)

·        Kiki Nyanok – Long Jump (17’ 9 ¾”)

·        Sydney Reichert – Pole Vault (11’ 1 ¾”)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 100m Hurdles (14.70)

·        Calvin Rohde – 5,000 Meters (14:49.27)

·        Zoey Walker – High Jump (5’ 6”)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ ¾”)

Next up, the Bulldogs will host the Concordia Invitational on April 5-6. The meet will be the first of two at home this outdoor season for Concordia. The tentative meet schedule can be found HERE.