SEWARD, Neb. – In the second of a series of fan polls conducted by the Concordia University athletic communications department, men’s track and field collected the most votes to earn the distinction of 2013-14 Concordia Team of the Year. Among female team nominees, the Bulldog softball team received the most support in the poll. Last week Liz King received the honor of top Concordia Athletic Feat of the season.
What compelled voters to side with head coach Kregg Einspahr’s group of men? Look no further than the team’s sweep of both the GPAC indoor and outdoor conference titles – the first two league championships in the history of the program. The Bulldogs broke through with the first GPAC title by piling up 196 points to runner-up Doane’s 172 points at the indoor meet in Crete. Concordia then dominated the outdoor championships with 216 points far out-distancing the 140.5 from the second place Tigers.
“Doane had won the last six championships in a row so that’s the team we’ve been battling with to try to win the conference,” Einspahr said. “Clearly it’s meaningful to do that. They’re a great program with a great coaching staff and when you can match up with them on a regular basis you feel very good about where your program’s at and where it’s going.”
At the national championships, the Bulldogs placed 17th at the NAIA indoor meet before closing the season with an 11th-place claim at the outdoor championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. Seven Bulldogs captured indoor All-America honors and another five did so for outdoor (two for senior Ben Hinckfoot).
Indoor GPAC titles were seized by John Cartier (400 meter dash), Noah Smith (60 meter dash), Jaap Van Gaalen (600 meter run) and the 4x400 meter relay quartet. Outdoor conference championships were reeled in by Zach Lurz (discus and shot put), John Cartier (200 meters), Carson Farr (pole vault), Ben Hinckfoot (400 meter hurdles) and Lucas Wiechman (decathlon).
Runner up: There may not have been a more surprising Concordia team in 2013-14 than first-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s bunch. The Bulldog softball team got out of the gates quickly with the first 9-0 start in program history and then proceeded to finish runner up at the GPAC tournament and reach the national tournament for the first time ever. In addition, the Bulldogs racked up 32 wins – the fourth most in program history. This improbable season came on the heels of a 14-25 campaign in 2013.