CRETE, Neb. – The 2016 season kicked off this weekend for the Concordia University track and field programs, which began their quest to build upon stellar 2015 seasons at Saturday’s Scott Nisely Memorial Classic hosted by Doane. Ten Bulldogs combined to record 12 automatic national qualifying marks inside the Fuhrer Field House. In addition, senior Kim Wood turned posted a national championships clinching time for the second-straight day while competing at Nebraska’s Holiday Inn Invitational.
Event titles were claimed by Cody Boellstorff (weight throw and shot put) CJ Muller (200 and 600 meters), Kali Robb (weight throw), Jose Rojas (seeded shot put) and the men’s 4x800 meter relay in a solid opening to the 24th-year season under head coach Kregg Einspahr.
“You have to sit back and realize that it’s the first meet of the season and there’s a lot of time between now and the conference championships,” Einspahr said. “It was kind of what was expected. The veterans know what work needs to be done and come back (from break) ready to go. Some of your younger athletes are figuring stuff out. We had a lot of good things today.”
Wood, winner of three GPAC indoor titles last season, is off to a rousing start in 2016. She placed second out of 22 runners at the Devaney Sports Center by finishing the 600 meter race in a time of 1:35.50. A day earlier Wood raced to a national qualifying time of 5:06.17 in the one mile. After running the 600 in Lincoln, Wood made her way to Crete and ran the leadoff leg in 2:15 as part of the 4x800 meter relay that placed second (9:49.85). Said Einspahr, “She had a great weekend.”
The vaunted group of Bulldog throwers achieved eight national marks on Saturday. Boellstorff hurled the weight throw 59' 8 ¼” in a title-winning effort. Robb shined in both of her events, turning in marks of 56’ 11 ¼” in the weight throw and 46’ 1 ¼” in the shot put. Other national qualifying throwers were Stephanie Coley (shot put), Philip Kreutzer (weight throw), Samantha Liermann (shot put) and Rojas (shot put and weight throw). A national champion in the 2015 indoor shot put, Zach Lurz did not compete at Doane.
On the track, junior CJ Muller highlighted efforts on the men’s side. He turned in an impressive double by winning the 200 and 600 meter races. Said Einspahr, “That’s quite the combination to be able to win those two races.” Muller’s time of 1:21.83 in the 600 represented an automatic mark. The Omaha native earned All-America status in that event a year ago.
A trio of Bulldog pole vaulters shined at the Nisely Classic. McKenzie Gravo, a freshman from Henderson, Nev., cleared 11’ 9,” making her an automatic national qualifier along with teammate Cynthia Mick (11’ 2 ½”). Only six vaulters in program history have topped Gravo’s 11’ 9” jump. On the men’s side, junior Lucas Wiechman finished runner up with his national qualifying mark of 16’ ¾.” Wiechman also placed second in the 60 meter hurdles in a time of 8.38.
Einspahr also credited the performances of the Beune sisters, Christine and Anna. Anna (8.13) and Christine (8.15) placed third and fifth, respectively, in the 60 meter dash. Additionally, Christine ran the 400 meter dash, placing fourth in 1:03.26.
National qualifying marks on Saturday:
The indoor season continues next week with the Prairie Wolf Invite hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan. The meet will take place inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln on Jan. 22.