Meet Preview: 2023 GPAC Outdoor Championships

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

SEWARD, Neb. – After six weeks of 2023 outdoor competition, the 2023 GPAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships are up next for Concordia Track & Field. The Bulldogs will enter the meet having totaled 10 automatic national qualifying marks and 14 ‘B’ standards. This past weekend, Concordia’s group of women’s relays stole the show at the Drake Relays as the 4x4 placed fourth with a new season best, the 4x8 turned in a fresh ‘A’ standard and the 4x2 broke a school record that had stood since 1990. Head Coach Matt Beisel’s women’s program will be looking to extend its active streak of eight consecutive GPAC meet titles. New conference champions will be crowned this week as Dordt hosts the GPAC meet.


2023 GPAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Friday/Saturday, May 5-6
Open Space Park | Sioux Center, Iowa
Event Schedule (PDF)
Live Coverage
--Video Streams: Defender Network
--Results: Dakota Timing
--Admission: $10 for adults/senior citizens, $3 for K-12; only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s will be admitted free of charge.

To recap the 2023 GPAC indoor meet, Concordia won the title on the women’s side and placed third on the men’s side. In another dominant performance, the Bulldog women racked up 241.5 team points while protecting the home turf inside the Fieldhouse. GPAC event championships were won by the women’s 4x400 meter relay, Rachel Battershell (400 meters), Zach Bennetts (pole vault), Lauren Dawson (3,000-meter race walk), Rylee Haecker (mile and 1,000 meters), Josie Puelz (pole vault), Amy Richert (pentathlon) and Adrianna Rodencal (60 hurdles and 200 meters). The Lincoln Lutheran alum Rodencal was named the GPAC Women’s Athlete of the Meet after leading all competitors in number of points scored. In addition, Beisel was named the GPAC Coach of the Year for the ninth time in his career.

Concordia’s returning GPAC champions from the 2022 conference outdoor meet include Bennetts (pole vault), Haecker (1,500 meters), Jordan Koepke (400 hurdles), Puelz (pole vault) and Camden Sesna (5,000 meters). Among returning Bulldogs, Battershell owns the most career GPAC event titles with 10, including four in the 400 meters. Others with multiple career GPAC championships include Bennetts (three), Kylahn Freiberg (two), Haecker (five), Koepke (three), Puelz (five) and Rodencal (two). In the outdoor meet held last year at Doane, Koepke broke the GPAC meet record in the 400 hurdles while winning in a time of 59.90.

Below is a listing of Concordia athletes who enter this week’s meet with top-rated marks within the GPAC. The Bulldogs have the potential to rack up points in a wide range of event areas. The pole vault again figures to be an area of strength. At the ’23 GPAC indoor meet, the pole vault crew amassed 32 points on the women’s side and 28.5 on the men’s side as Bennetts and Puelz claimed titles. Entering this weekend, Concordia boasts the top 1,500-meter runners on both sides: Haecker and Calvin Rohde. The Bulldog women own three of the GPAC’s top four times in the 1,500 (including Keegan Beisel and Kylahn Freiberg). Other events in which Concordia holds down three or more of the top five marks in the GPAC are: the women’s 400 meters, the women’s pole vault and the women’s heptathlon.

Bulldogs with top-rated GPAC marks

·        Women’s 4x400m Relay (3:50.29)

·        Lauren Dawson – 5,000m Race Walk (28:34.84)

·        Rylee Haecker – 1,500 Meters (4:41.98)

·        Jordan Koepke – 400 Hurdles (1:02.71)

·        Hayley Miles – Long Jump (18’ 1”)

·        Hannah Newton – High Jump (5’ 5 ¼”)

·        Josie Puelz – Pole Vault (12’ 7 ½”)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 100 Hurdles (14.15)

·        Calvin Rohde – 1,500 Meters (3:54.98)

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

According to the USTFCCCA, Concordia boasts the NAIA’s top-rated event squads in the men’s hammer throw and the women’s heptathlon. The Bulldogs also rank No. 2 nationally in the men’s and women’s pole vault, the women’s hammer and the women’s high jump. The most accomplished thrower on the current roster, three-time All-American Chris Wren ranks No. 3 in the GPAC in the hammer (190’ 8”) with teammate Darien Semedo behind him at No. 4 (184’ 4”). The GPAC’s Nos. 2 through 5 rated athletes in the heptathlon are Amy Richert, Amanda Steinke, Faith Espinosa and Josi Noble.

School records have been broken this outdoor season by the women’s 4x200 meter relay (1:44.26), Lauren Dawson in the 5,000-meter race walk (28:34.84) and Rodencal in the 100 hurdles (14.15). Meanwhile, Rohde narrowly missed the men’s program standard in the 5,000 meters (14:42.28). Additionally, Jenna Esch’s time of 56.74 in the 400 meters ranks No. 3 in school history. As a side note, the race walk will be held at the GPAC meet and a champion will be crowned, however, the event will not factor into team scoring.

During the GPAC era (2000-present), Concordia Track & Field has combined for 14 GPAC team titles (11 for the women and three for the men). The men’s program last hoisted the GPAC trophy at the 2015 conference outdoor meet (held at Dordt). In addition, the Bulldog men’s and women’s programs have combined for 26 conference runner-up finishes during the GPAC era.

The season will continue beyond the GPAC Championships with the Concordia Twilight (May 12) and the UNK Loper Twilight (May 13) meets coming up next week. Those will be the final opportunities for Bulldogs to put national marks on the board heading into the 2023 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships held in Marion, Ind., May 24-26. For additional national meet info, check out the NAIA track and field page HERE.

Concordia all-time conference titles

MENindoor: 2014 | outdoor: 2014, 2015

WOMENindoor: 2010, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 | outdoor: 1998, 2010, 2012, 2019, 2021, 2022

Concordia all-time conference runner-up finishes

MENindoor: 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 | outdoor: 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017

WOMENindoor: 2003, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016 | outdoor: 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Current Bulldogs with GPAC titles
Rachel Battershell
– 10 (2023 indoor 400 meters; 2023 indoor 4x400m relay; 2021 outdoor 400 hurdles; 2021 outdoor 4x400m relay; 2021 indoor 400 meters; 2020 indoor 60 hurdles; 2020 indoor 400 meters; 2020 indoor 4x400m relay; 2019 indoor 4x400m relay; 2019 outdoor 400 meters)
Zach Bennetts – 3 (2023 indoor pole vault; 2022 outdoor pole vault; 2022 indoor pole vault)
Lauren Dawson – 1 (2023 indoor 3,000m race walk)
Jenna Esch – 1 (2023 indoor 4x400m relay)
Kylahn Freiberg – 2 (2021 indoor 1,000 meters); 2020 indoor 3,000 meters)
Rylee Haecker – 5 (2023 indoor mile; 2023 indoor 1,000 meters; 2022 outdoor 1,500 meters; 2022 indoor mile; 2022 indoor 1,000 meters)
Jordan Koepke – 3 (2023 indoor 4x400m relay; 2022 outdoor 400 hurdles; 2022 indoor 600 meters)
Erin Mapson – 1 (2019 outdoor pole vault)
Colton Meyer – 1 (2021 outdoor 4x100m relay)
Josie Puelz – 5 (2023 indoor pole vault; 2022 outdoor pole vault; 2022 indoor pole vault; 2021 outdoor pole vault; 2020 indoor pole vault)
Joel Rathe – 1 (2021 outdoor 4x100m relay)
Amy Richert – 1 (2023 indoor pentathlon)
Adrianna Rodencal – 2 (2023 indoor 60 hurdles; 2023 indoor 200 meters)
Camden Sesna – 1 (2022 outdoor 5,000 meters)
Trinity Tuls – 1 (2023 indoor 4x400m relay)