Nationally ranked Bulldogs crush it in the mile, add five fresh 'A' standards on weekend

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 3, 2024 in Track & Field

CRETE / LINCOLN, Neb. – It was a strong weekend for the distance crew as three separate Bulldogs clocked fresh automatic national qualifying standards in the mile, one did so in the 3,000 meters and another accomplished that feat in the 5,000 meters. Between Friday and Saturday (Feb. 2-3), the nationally ranked Concordia University Track & Field squads were represented at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Neb., and the Fred Beile Classic in Crete, Neb. Six event championships were won by Concordia athletes at the Beile Classic, which featured competitors from 13 institutions.

This was the fourth weekend of indoor competition this 2023-24 season for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s Bulldogs, currently ranked second on the women’s side and 10th on the men’s side (according to the USTFCCCA).

“I’ve been lifting this team up in prayer, and I know our coaches are as well,” Beisel said. “This is hard. It takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot of work. It sometimes stretches you in ways that are painful mentally and physically. For us to keep pushing the bar higher in all these different events, it says a lot about the blessings God has given this team. I’m so grateful to God.”

The new ‘A’ standards were produced in the mile by Kylahn Freiberg (also qualified in the 3,000 meters), Rylee Haecker and Calvin Rohde and from Julie McIntyre in the 5,000 meters while Jenna Esch and the women’s 4x400 meter relay improved existing national qualifying times, among the major highlights. The Hastings, Neb., native Esch has shown her versatility in excelling at a multitude of distances. She now ranks No. 4 nationally in the 600 meters after she blazed to a time of 1:33.52 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln. Esch narrowly missed out on winning the race while up against athletes from NCAA Division I and II schools. Esch also ran the fastest split (57.493) in the 4x400 meter relay that included Kayla Kirchner, Trinity Tuls and Jordan Koepke. The 4x4 time of 3:53.06 ranks No. 4 in the NAIA.

An 2023 cross country All-American, Freiberg is putting on a distance clinic this indoor season. She stole the show at the Beile Classic with winning ‘A’ standards in the mile (5:03.42) and 3,000 meters (10:14.58). She’s also qualified for nationals in the 5,000 meters and as part the NAIA’s No. 1 4x800 meter relay. Meanwhile, the eight-time All-American Haecker took the stage in Lincoln and ran 5:04.85 in the mile while posting her second individual national qualifying time of the indoor season. On the men’s side, Calvin Rohde won the mile at the Beile Classic and reserved a spot at nationals with his time of 4:15.36. Finally, McIntyre clocked a personal best 5k of 17:55.91 (top five in school history).

Freiberg is putting together times across the board that rank inside the top five on the program’s all-time record boards. Said Beisel, “She ran fantastic. I think that’s one of the biggest things to celebrate. There were so many good things that happened this weekend. Julie McIntyre has been waiting for this moment in the 5k and being able to crack 18 minutes. I was super happy for her.”

The action at the Husker Invite also saw Adrianna Rodencal again hit the ‘A’ standard in the 60-meter hurdles (8.60; seventh place overall) as one of more than 15 Bulldogs to be entered into the highly competitive meet. In the weight throw, Chris Wren (62’ 10”) and Abi Wohlgemuth (57’ 9”) are consistently surpassing the NAIA auto mark. At the Beile Classic, Darien Semedo narrowly missed out on the ‘A’ standard with his season best of 51’ 1 ½” in the shot put. One additional auto mark was hit by Zoey Walker, who cleared 5’ 6” in the high jump for the second time this season.

Two other event champions at the Beile Classic were Hayley Miles in the long jump (17’ 9 ½”) and Trey Robertson in the 5,000 meters (15:53.88). Concordia had the top four place finishers in the men’s 5,000 meters: Robertson, Jack Ellis (15:59.83), Aidan Limback (16:11.21) and Charlie Hayden (16:12.07). Rhaya Kaschinske also posted a solid mile time of 5:22.38 and Hannah Beintema was the runner up to Freiberg in the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:50.27. On the men’s side of the mile, Trevor Kuncl placed third (4:28.72). There were three ‘B’ marks turned in at the Beile Classic (none of them new) courtesy of Semedo, Abby Gerber in the shot put and Josi Noble in the triple jump.

The Bulldogs also entered a 4x4 into the Husker Invite on the men’s side. The crew of Liam Fagan, Colby Sugden, Teagan Meyer and Hayden Kluthe finished in 3:26.23. The Ord, Neb., native Kluthe ran a fine split of 49.619 and also clocked in at 8.88 in the 60-meter hurdles. Reigning NAIA National Field Athlete of the Week Zach Zohner no-heighted in the pole vault at the Husker Invite, however, he remains the national leader in the event. In the 400 meters at UNL, Esch (56.97) and Tuls (59.24) both ran under a minute.

Beisel also made mention of some performances that won’t show up on the national radar. Some efforts that stood out for Beisel were personal bests from Ransom Watts (16:23.16 in the 5k) and Brittni Kinne (41’ ¼” in the shot put).

Automatic National Qualifying Standards (weekend of Feb. 2-3)

·        Women’s 4x400m Relay (3:53.06); at Sevigne Husker Invite – Esch; Kirchner; Tuls; Koepke

·        Jenna Esch – 600 Meters (1:33.52); at Sevigne Husker Invite

·        Kylahn Freiberg – Mile (5:03.42) and 3,000 meters (10:14.58); at Beile Classic

·        Rylee Haecker – Mile (5:04.85); at Sevigne Husker Invite

·        Julie McIntyre – 5,000 Meters (17:55.91); at Beile Classic

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 60 Hurdles (8.60); at Sevigne Husker Invite

·        Calvin Rohde – Mile (4:15.36); at Beile Classic

·        Zoey Walker – High Jump (5’ 6”); at Beile Classic

·        Abi Wohlgemuth – Weight Throw (57’ 9”); at Sevigne Husker Invite

·        Chris Wren – Weight Throw (62’ 10”) at Sevigne Husker Invite

Beile Classic Event Champions

·        Kylahn Freiberg – Mile (5:03.42) and 3,000 meters (10:14.58)

·        Julie McIntyre – 5,000 Meters (17:55.91)

·        Hayley Miles – Long Jump (17’ 9 ½”)

·        Trey Robertson – 5,000 Meters (15:53.88)

·        Calvin Rohde – Mile (4:15.36)

Next up, the Bulldogs will host their final home meet of the 2023-24 indoor season. The Concordia Indoor Invite will get started at 12 p.m. CT from the Walz Fieldhouse on Friday, Feb. 9. The tentative schedule for the meet can be found HERE. The Concordia Invite will be the final meet prior to the 2024 GPAC Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 16-17).