Even on the national stage, Concordia sophomore Liz King could not be touched. She outdistanced the competition by more than 15 feet in the javelin to claim the program’s first national title by a female athlete since Stephanie Beberniss won two pole vault championships in 2003. King’s big performance headlined day one of the 2014 NAIA Outdoor National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Thursday.
That wasn’t all. The day brought an additional three All-Americans and a school record for Concordia University track and field. All-America honors were nailed down by Cody Boellstorff (hammer), Jamie Crouse (hammer) and Shelby Yelden (pole vault), while Ben Hinckfoot toppled his own school record in the 400 meter hurdles at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium on Thursday.
Of the 39 Bulldog athletes that made the trip to Gulf Shores, a total of 29 competed on the event’s first day. In terms of team scoring, the Concordia women piled up 16.5 points. The men got five points thanks to Boellstorff.
A season that already included six winning javelin competitions, a GPAC meet record and an NAIA-leading mark got even better for King. A fourth-place finisher in the javelin at last year’s outdoor championships, King (Billings, Mont.) rose to the top in just her second collegiate season.
“She dominated the event,” 22nd-year head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “National champ as a sophomore and win by 15 feet – how about that. She’s a great gal with a super personality. I’m really happy for her. She came into the day as a favorite and it was great to see her have that performance.”
Hinckfoot ran away from the competition in the third heat of the preliminaries. With a time of 52.82, the native of Colorado Springs came in .17 under the school record he set at last year’s national championships when he grabbed All-America honors in three events. On Thursday only Carroll’s Stephan Delaney and Indiana Tech’s Robert Rose ran better times than Concordia’s towering galloper. Hinckfoot will run in the prelims of the 110 hurdles on Friday and the finals of the 400 hurdles on Saturday.
“Ben looked really strong,” Einspahr said. “He set a school record and looked very good.”
For the third-straight year, senior Jamie Crouse claimed All-America honors in the weight throw. Her toss of 171’ 1” placed her eighth, allowing her to earn the sixth All-America award in her accomplished career. Crouse will also compete in the shot put on Friday.
Boellstorff, the school record holder in the hammer throw, laid claim to his third career All-America award by placing fourth in the hammer. The native of Waverly, Neb., got himself on the medal stand with his throw of 195’ 8.” He’s now a two-time hammer throw All-American.
In the pole vault, Seward native Shelby Yelden nearly equaled her personal best by clearing 12’ 1 ½”, giving her a sweep of All-America honors in both indoor and outdoor. She followed her fifth place indoor finish with a third-place slotting on Thursday.
In the women’s heptathlon, both senior Lydia Pomerenke and junior Sara Simmons have positioned themselves for All-America contention when they resume competition at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. Pomerenke sits fifth with 2,733 points while Simmons is in seventh with 2,714 points.
The Concordia women’s 4x800 meter relay did not advance past the preliminaries despite posting a season best time of 9:19.42 on Friday. The Bulldogs finished 10th in the prelims, roughly 3.5 seconds out of eighth.
A pair of men’s relays – 4x100 meters and 4x800 meters – also fell short of finals-worthy times. The men’s 4x8 ran a season best time just as the women did.
“Our men gave us about as much as we could have expected,” Einspahr said. “We have three of the four back next year on both 4x8s. The women had a season best by four seconds. I thought we would make the finals but we didn’t necessarily put it all together even though it was a season best.”
Other competitors in action on Thursday included Jonathon Becker in the 400 hurdles (11th, 53.88) and Concordia’s young decathletes – sophomore Brandon Ramos (currently 14th, 3,094) and Lucas Wiechman (12th, 3,153). The event with the most Bulldog athletes was the men’s hammer, which included six performers in Navy and White. Trey Farmer finished one foot away from All-America honors with his ninth-place toss of 173’ 7.”
Day two at the national championships gets started at 9:30 a.m. with the decathlon. View the Friday schedule for Bulldog athletes below. The national championships can be seen live online HERE (fee required). Live results are available HERE.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” Einspahr said. “We had a lot going on today, too. It was a busy day. We have one of the biggest teams here.”
On Wednesday the Bulldogs had a chance to enjoy the beaches nearby the Gulf Shores resort. They gathered for a team photo by the ocean and had some fun in the sun.
“We tried to keep them in check and not let them be in the sun too long,” Einspahr said. “It’s a real nice resort with sandy beaches. I know they enjoyed it.”
9:30 a.m. – Decathlon (5 events left)
Lucas Wiechman, Brandon Ramos
10:30 a.m. – Heptathlon (3 events left)
Lydia Pomerenke, Sara Simmons
1 p.m. – Women’s shot put
Stephanie Coley, Jamie Crouse, Brittany Erdmann, Kali Robb
1:30 p.m. – Women’s 100 meter hurdle trials
1:45 p.m. – Men’s 110 meter hurdle trials
Jonathon Becker, Ben Hinckfoot
2 p.m. – Women’s 800 meter run trials
3:50 p.m. – Men’s 400 meter dash trials
5 p.m. – Men’s discus
5:30 p.m. – Women’s triple jump
8:15 p.m. – Men’s 4x400 meter relay trials
Concordia All-America tracker: