Kleckner breaks 200 meter record; Bulldogs add four fresh 'A' marks at Dutcher Classic

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 23, 2022 in Track & Field

CRETE, Neb. – A program record that stood for a quarter century was broken on Saturday (April 23) as Concordia University Track & Field concluded the blustery three-day Jim Dutcher Memorial Classic hosted by Doane. By day’s end, Cade Kleckner rose to the top of the program’s all-time 200 meter list as one of four Bulldogs to collect fresh automatic national qualifying marks over the weekend. The three additional new qualifiers were Sarah Lewis (100 hurdles), Alli Owings (discus) and Erin Painter (discus). Among the highlights, Concordia athletes combined for eight Dutcher Classic event titles.

This was the fifth weekend of outdoor competition for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads, which have run their combined season tally to 15 automatic national qualifying marks. High and steady winds in excess of 30 miles per hour made it a challenge on Saturday.

“I went into this meet with lower expectations than normal because of the predicted high winds,” Beisel said. “We left about 50 percent of our distance runners at home because it would have been counterproductive in this kind of wind. In spite of the wind, lots of good things happened – maybe in part because of the wind. We had some great discus throws. Alli Owings knocked it out of the park with a huge PR. The wind helped the sprinters and the hurdlers because it was giving them a push. Everyone dealt with the weather in a positive way and that’s what I would expect from the caliber of people and athletes that we have.”

A 200 meter national qualifier last season, Kleckner blazed to a time of 21.30 on Saturday while placing second at the Dutcher Classic. A week earlier, the native of Colorado Springs, Colo., clocked a time of 21.47 at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. His latest performance broke the previous school outdoor standard of 21.34 by Frank Wilson back in 1997. Kleckner also moved up to No. 3 on the program’s all-time 100 meter list with his time of 10.69 at the Dutcher Classic.

It was a fruitful Saturday for the women’s discus crew. In the event, Bulldogs Alli Owings (156’ 8”), Sara Huss (152’ 7”) and Erin Painter (150’ 3”) placed second through fourth while each eclipsing the ‘A’ standard. Other noteworthy efforts from the throws group as a whole included a meet title in the hammer throw for Sarah Ragland (166’ 9”) and a fresh ‘B’ mark in the shot put by Kamryn Pokorney. On the men’s side, Chris Wren placed fifth in the hammer with a toss just shy of the ‘A’ standard. He entered the weekend ranked eighth nationally in the hammer. The team’s top men’s discus thrower was Ben Moll, who placed ninth (148’ 5”).

One of the top hurdlers in school history, Sarah Lewis is now qualified for nationals in both the 100 and 400 hurdle events. She ran a personal best of 14.53 in the prelims of the 100 hurdles at the Dutcher Classic. The Mason City, Neb., native also again hit the ‘A’ standard in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:02.71. Lewis was narrowly beaten out by Hastings’ Nisa Thomas (1:02.67) for first place in the 400 hurdles. As part of Lewis’ day, she also ran the third leg for the 4x100 meter relay that placed first with a ‘B’ standard of 48.19. That group featured Rachel Battershell, Brittney Aitken and Cora Olson.

For the second week in a row, three-time national champion Josie Puelz cleared 13 feet in the pole vault. She won the competition at the Dutcher Classic while vaulting 13’ 1 ½.” The Lincoln Lutheran alum remains the NAIA national leader in the event. On the men’s side of the pole vault, Chase Berry and Zach Bennetts both cleared 15’ 5” (‘B’ mark) and placed inside the top four in the event. Berry cleared the ‘A’ standard a week earlier at the Loper Invitational.

Other Concordia winners on the track included Battershell in the 400 meters (58.91), Rylee Haecker in the 1,500 meters (4:49.76), Kaia Richmond in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (12:44.16) and Xavier Ross in the 400 meters (48.76). Battershell was joined by teammates Jenna Esch (59.34), Keri Bauer (59.41) and Trinity Tuls (59.56) as sub one-minute 400 meter runners. On the men’s side of the 4x1, the Bulldogs came up just shy of their season best while clocking a time of 41.81. The 4x1 group featured Kleckner, Joel Rathe, Jacob Jennings and Ross. Rathe was also the Dutcher Classic winner in the long jump with a mark of 22’ 2 ½.”

Already mentioned for her collaboration in the 4x1, Olson just missed the ‘B’ standard in the long jump with her personal best mark of 18’ 5 ¼.” She placed third in the event. The native of Trimont, Minn., placed second in the 200 meters with a time of 25.58. On the men’s side of the jumps, Wyatt Loga placed fifth in the high jump with a mark of 6’ 7.”

The Dutcher Classic provided the first opportunity this season for Concordia athletes to compete in the heptathlon. A 2021 All-American in the heptathlon, Amy Richert led the way for the Bulldogs by placing fourth out of 14 athletes. She totaled 4,163 points. Next in line was indoor pentathlon national qualifier Elena Batenhorst in seventh place (3,899).

Added Beisel, “We had a good time and I was proud of the effort the kids put into it. I’m very excited to see what will happen at Drake and Wesleyan next week.”

As part of next week’s slate, Concordia will be represented at the Drake Relays (April 28-30) and the Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolf Invitational (April 28). Those meets will serve as the precursor to the GPAC Championships coming up May 6-7.

‘A’ standards achieved at Dutcher Classic

·        Sara Huss – Discus (152’ 7”)

·        Cade Kleckner – 200 Meters (21.30)

·        Sarah Lewis – 100 Hurdles (14.53); 400 Hurdles (1:02.71)

·        Alli Owings – Discus (156’ 8”)

·        Erin Painter – Discus (150’ 3”)

·        Josie Puelz – Pole Vault (13’ 1 ½”)

·        Sarah Ragland – Hammer Throw (166’ 9”)

--Amy Richert met the minimum national reporting standard in the heptathlon with 4,163 points.
--Women's 4x100m relay: new 'B' time of 48.19.
--Zach Bennetts produced a new ‘B’ standard in the pole vault (15’ 5”).
--Jordan Koepke: new 'B' mark in 100 hurdles (14.63).
--Erin Painter: new 'B' mark in hammer (161' 2").
--Kamryn Pokorney: new ‘B’ mark of 43’ 1 ¾” in the shot put.

Dutcher Classic Event Champions

·        Women’s 4x100m Relay (48:19); Battershell, Aitken, Lewis, Olson

·        Rachel Battershell – 400 Meters (58.91)

·        Rylee Haecker – 1,500 Meters (4:49.76)

·        Josie Puelz – Pole Vault (13’ 1 ½”)

·        Sarah Ragland – Hammer Throw (166’ 9”)

·        Joel Rathe – Long Jump (22’ 2 ½”)

·        Kaia Richmond – 3,000 Meter Steeplechase (12:44.16)

·        Xavier Ross – 400 Meters (48.76)