SEWARD, Neb. – On a sunny and warm first day of the 2021 GPAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, four Bulldogs claimed individual conference championships while on their home turf. National champion Josie Puelz stole the show by clearing a GPAC meet record in the pole vault. Concordia University Track and Field is hosting the conference outdoor meet for the first time since 2013. In addition to Puelz, Bulldog champions on Friday (April 30) included Jacob Cornelio (hammer) and Addie Shaw (hammer) and Liz Stottlemyre (javelin).
With day one of two in the books, Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads have posted point totals of 75.5 (first place) on the women’s side and 37.5 (third) on the men’s side with most events yet to be scored on Saturday. The women’s team is aiming for a fifth GPAC title in a row. Said Beisel, “We had a lot of good starts to things. We had some overall fantastic performances. I’m very grateful to God for the kids we’ve got on this team and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
As Puelz admitted, things weren’t clicking for the Lincoln Lutheran alum leading up to the conference meet. But she put it all together at the right time in clearing 13’ 7 ¼” while breaking the previous GPAC meet record of 13’ 3 ½.” The performance also elevated beyond Puelz’s indoor school record of 13’ 4 ½,” a figure that won her the NAIA national title. Puelz also came close to vaulting 14 feet on Friday.
Said Puelz, “A big focus for me was controlling the controllables, not worrying about things going on around me. It’s very easy to get caught up in the competition. I know how to pole vault – I just have to let myself do that. Not overthinking things was huge for me. Going over the bar and seeing it stay was a little bit crazy, especially on my first attempt. I wasn’t quite prepared for that.”
Cornelio and Shaw are two super stars that Concordia did not have during the indoor season. Cornelio whirled the hammer a distance of 206’ 5” in the process of claiming his fourth career individual GPAC title. As the NAIA national leader in the event, Cornelio is a major threat to win the national title. The Bulldogs combined for 27 team points in the hammer throw with top eight finishes also claimed by Chris Wren (fourth), Dagne’ Buck (sixth), Ben Moll (seventh) and Darien Semedo (eighth).
Said Cornelio, “Competing again has been really good. It’s always good to win. I’m really proud of my teammates and the way they stepped up, more than anything. It was a fun meet. It’s good to see other people do well. I do want more … but I can’t be upset with the fact that I won.”
Shaw might just be the top overall female thrower in the entire NAIA this outdoor season. The native of Bassett, Neb., turned in a new personal best in the hammer with her toss of 188’ 5.” Her teammates followed through nicely with place finishes of second for Sarah Ragland, fourth for Bethany Shaw and eighth for Alli Owings. Their combined efforts put 24 team points on the board. Addie Shaw will also be a contender for GPAC titles in the discus and shot put on Saturday.
Stottlemyre has owned the javelin this year and continues to lead the nation in the event. Her winning mark on Friday landed at 150’ 2.” Her personal best is 155’ 2.” Said Stottlemyre, “It was gorgeous weather and a super nice day to throw. Honestly I couldn’t ask for more. I had a pretty good series – not too far off my PR for this year. It’s kind of nice to see some consistency. I’m just excited as we get closer to nationals.”
Freshman Amy Richert has star potential and broke through on Friday with an automatic national qualifying high jump of 5’ 5 ¾” as part of the heptathlon. Through four events scored in the heptathlon, Richert is in second place with 2,829 points. Right behind her is teammates Emily Loy in third place (2,759) while Kennedy Mogul is in seventh (2,398).
Concordia athletes combined for a total of 23 all-conference performances on Friday. As part of the women’s pole vault, Erin Mapson cleared 12’ 7 ½” and placed fourth. Amira Cummings took eighth (11’ 7 ¾”). On the men’s side, Zach Bennetts (third) and Rees Lyon (seventh) reached all-conference territory.
A select number of running events took place on Friday. Standout Rachel Battershell appeared in the 100 meter hurdles and placed third in the prelims. Battershell, Sarah Lewis and Loy each qualified for the finals. Cody Williams qualified for the finals of the men’s 110 hurdles.
The heat bogged down the 10k runners to some degree. Beisel called it a “survival race.” Beisel was proud of how Sydney Clark competed while earning a GPAC runner up claim in the 10,000 meters. In the 4x800 meter relays, the women dropped six seconds off their time from the Drake Relays and the men slashed 19 seconds from their season best. The women’s 4x8 (third place) included Rylee Haecker, Keri Bauer, Kailey Weichel and Grace Reiman and the men’s group (fifth place) was made up of Calvin Rohde, Camden Sesna, Cameron Gray and Christian Van Cleave.
A total of four Bulldog long jumpers collected all-conference honors, including Katie Severt (third), Cora Olson (sixth) and Richert (seventh) on the women’s side and Williams (sixth) on the men’s side. In the men’s javelin, Jackson Armitage placed seventh with a PR.
The first action on Saturday will begin at 9 a.m. CT with the resumption of the heptathlon and decathlon. Open field events are set to start at 12 p.m. with running events to follow at 1 p.m.
· Jacob Cornelio (Hammer Throw)
· Josie Puelz (Pole Vault)
· Addie Shaw (Hammer Throw)
· Liz Stottlemyre (Javelin)