SEWARD, Neb. – Athletes from eight institutions were part of the mix on Saturday (Jan. 22) as the Concordia University Track & Field programs hosted the annual Polar Dog Invite inside the Walz Fieldhouse. The final results for the Bulldogs featured three fresh automatic national qualifying standards (seven total ‘A’ marks), 10 event titles and a pair of meet records. The new auto marks were turned in by the women’s 4x800 meter relay, Erin Mapson and Calvin Rohde.
Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads have made it through three weekends of indoor competition and have combined for 13 automatic national qualifying standards. The Polar Dog marked the second home meet of the indoor season.
“From what I saw, performances were better than last week for the majority of the team,” Beisel said. “At the same time, there were some athletes who didn’t get everything they wanted. Of course I love that these guys and gals have high expectations for themselves. We’re training pretty hard right now and getting back in the groove. For them to perform at such a high level is a testament to their work ethic and ability. I was really happy with all of my middle distance and distance groups.”
It’s been quite a month for Rylee Haecker, who last week locked in her spot at nationals in the 1,000 meters. On Saturday, the Davenport, Neb., native contributed to the 4x8 that placed first in a time of 9:36.04, a meet record by more than eight seconds. Haecker blazed to a split of under 2:20. The 4x8 group included Haecker, Grace Reiman, Keri Bauer and Grace Oberg (in that order). Haecker later returned to the track and beat out a field of 23 runners in the mile, clocking a personal best time of 5:18.69.
Said Haecker of the 4x8, “It’s super exciting. This is what we’ve been working for since cross. It’s exciting to see the progress we’ve made and know that we have so much more in us … all Glory to God for sure.”
A cross country national qualifier this past fall just like Haecker, Rohde (Reed City, Mich.) has translated his success to the track. Rohde entered the day having already recorded ‘B’ standards in the 1,000 and 3,000 meters. On Saturday, he broke through in the mile with a national qualifying time of 4:18.43 (converted to 4:15.18 for a 300 meter track). A second-year competitor, Rohde has raised his game.
“I definitely knew I could put a good time down just based on workouts,” Rohde said. “But seeing it in reality is a great feeling. It’s one thing to say, it’s another thing to do it. I did what I planned to do today. I came through 800 meters right where I wanted to. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without training with Camden (Sesna) and all my other teammates and without Coach (Beisel) being there and pushing me.”
Mapson became the third Concordia women’s pole vaulter to qualify for nationals when she cleared 12’ ½” and won the competition at the Polar Dog. Teammates Amira Cummings and Josie Puelz had qualified at previous meets. This was a major confidence booster for Mapson, a four-time All-American who knows how to rise to the occasion.
“This year has definitely been a quicker process (to get to this point), which is a relief,” Mapson said. “It’s been a lot of fun to have a little more confidence early on in the season. It was good to go out and just have fun and do what I know I can do.”
In the weight throw, the Bulldogs are getting consistently excellent marks out of the likes of Andy Amos, Morgan De Jong, Sarah Ragland and Chris Wren. Each of them again hit the ‘A’ standard on Saturday. Ragland emerged as the winner on the women’s side with a season best of 56’ 2.” In addition, Abigail Gerber popped off a PR of 53’ ¾,” missing the ‘A’ standard by mere centimeters. Finally, Jordyn Anderson also whirled a new ‘B’ standard with a toss of 51’ 10” in the weight throw. Amos and Anderson both landed in third place in the shot put at the Polar Dog.
Other Polar Dog event titles were produced by Rachel Battershell (400 meters), Gabby Diamond (triple jump), Jacob Jennings (400 meters), Wyatt Loga (high jump) and Zach Zohner (pole vault). This was Diamond’s first time attempting the triple jump at a college meet. Event runners up included Brittney Aitken (200 meters), Jacee Pfeifer (600 meters), Joel Rathe (long jump), Sydney Reichert (pole vault), Amy Richert (pentathlon), Faith Williamson (1,000 meters) and Wren (weight throw). Richert finished with a pentathlon point total of 3,378, just off her personal best of 3,407 that currently ranks No. 4 in the NAIA.
Beisel made special mention of the work of Aitken, who ran 8.01 in the 60 meters and 26.89 in the 200 meters. On the men’s side of the 200, Cade Kleckner ran 22.81 and placed third while Ryan Wokutch (also a member of the men’s soccer team) ran 23.35 in his first ever college meet. In the 400 meters, Jennings and Mark Cooke (third place) clocked times of 50.58 and 51.31, respectively.
Remaining regular season meets will include the Fred Beile Classic (Jan. 29), the Concordia Indoor Classic (Feb. 4), the Sevigne Husker Invitational (Feb. 4-5) and the Concordia Indoor Invite (Feb. 12). Next week’s Beile Classic will be hosted by Doane.
Automatic National Qualifying Standards
· *Women’s 4x800 Meter Relay (9:36.04); Haecker, Reiman, Bauer, Oberg
· Andy Amos – Weight Throw (57’ 10 ½”)
· Morgan De Jong – Weight Throw (54’ 4”)
· *Erin Mapson – Pole Vault (12’ ½”)
· Sarah Ragland – Weight Throw (56’ 2”)
· *Calvin Rohde – Mile (4:18.43)
· Chris Wren – Weight Throw (61’ 8 ¼”)
*Fresh auto marks
· Women’s 4x800 Meter Relay (9:36.04); Haecker, Reiman, Bauer, Oberg
· Rachel Battershell – 400 meters (59.81)
· Gabby Diamond – Triple Jump (35’ 8”)
· Rylee Haecker – Mile (5:18.69)
· Jacob Jennings – 400 Meters (50.58)
· Wyatt Loga – High Jump (6’ 5”)
· Erin Mapson – Pole Vault (12’ ½”)
· Sarah Ragland – Weight Throw (56’ 2”)
· Calvin Rohde – Mile (4:18.43)
· Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (14’ 9”)