Rodencal breaks own hurdles record; Bulldogs add to qualifying field at Concordia Invite

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 5, 2024 in Track & Field

SEWARD, Neb. – In taking advantage of a warm and sunny spring day, Concordia University Track & Field played the role of meet host for the first time this outdoor season. Ten institutions were represented on Friday (April 5) at the Concordia Outdoor Invite that unfolded in and around Bulldog Stadium. The highlights for Concordia included a school hurdles record from sophomore Adrianna Rodencal, 10 performances that met the automatic national qualifying standard, seven ‘B’ marks and 13 event championships.

Head Coach Matt Beisel and his staff worked to quickly reconfigure the meet to a one-day only extravaganza while avoiding expected high winds and rain on Saturday.

“We made a shift with the impending weather and it was a full team effort along with our administration, buildings and grounds and all our meet staff,” Beisel said. “It was the best decision we could have made. It was phenomenal weather. All of the pieces fell into place. We ended up having one of the smoothest meets, and we got some really good stuff. I’m very thankful to God for that.

“From a performance perspective, we chipped away at some new national marks and improved some marks for conference. Overall, it was a very good meet.”

The Lincoln Lutheran alum Rodencal eclipsed her own school record not once but twice on Friday. Entering the day with a personal best of 14.00 in the 100-meter hurdles, Rodencal ran 13.89 in the prelims and then 13.84 in the finals. Based on the NAIA performance list coming into the weekend, Rodencal now ranks No. 2 nationally in the event. Due to the strength of the wind in Rodencal’s prelims race, her time actually did not qualify her for nationals. However, the wind settled a bit for the finals and Rodencal’s 13.84 will be added to the national leaderboard.

Said Rodencal, “Last year I hit 14-flat and I was a little frustrated. I really wanted to go sub-14. The goal with the weather being nice today – and having good competition coming in – was to go sub-14. I did it in the prelims and it was a little wind-aided, but then did it again in the finals. I’m definitely happy with how it’s going. It was a really good meet with a lot of good competition.”

The throwers have been impressive over their first three meets of the outdoor season. The four-time NAIA All-American Chris Wren came up with a big-time hammer throw of nearly 200 feet (198’ 6”) – four Bulldogs in school history have reached 200 feet. Wren took the ‘seeded’ hammer title at the Concordia Invite. In that same event, Darien Semedo turned in a fresh ‘A’ standard (180’ 4”) and teammates Connor Asche (177’ 2”) and Austen Rozelle (176’ 8”) popped off significant PR’s in meeting the ‘B’ standard.

Four other ‘A’ marks were repeated by the throws crew, courtesy of Matthew Boyer in the javelin (194’), Carson Fehlhafer in the shot put (52’ 1 ¾”), Abby Gerber in the shot put (45’ 7”) and Semedo in the shot put (52’ 4 ¾”). In the women’s javelin, Gretchen Stottlemyre notched a ‘B’ mark of 131’ 4.”

On the track, it was a fine day for Jordan Koepke, who won the Concordia Invite 400-meter hurdles race in a ‘A’ standard time of 1:03.48. Koepke then helped put a cap on the meet by joining her 4x400-meter relay teammates, Jenna Esch, Trinity Tuls and Kayla Kirchner, for a new automatic national qualifying time of 3:53.96. Esch was also the meet champion in the 400 meters (56.76).

In the 1,500-meter races, the Bulldogs made it a sweep of first-place finishes as Kylahn Freiberg won with a ‘B’ standard (4:39.98) on the women’s side and Calvin Rohde triumphed (3:59.65) on the men’s side. Rohde also ran a leg for the 4x800-meter relay that took first place in a time of 8:10.66. He was joined on the relay by Trevor Kuncl, Trey Robertson and Hudson Opp. In the steeplechase, Nathan Pennekamp was a winner after he finished in 9:51.81.

The consistency of Zach Zohner in the pole vault continues to be remarkable. He cleared 16’ 4 ¾” and won another meet title. Zohner was one of nine men’s/women’s Concordia pole vaulters to compete on Friday.

Leading the way for the jumps crew, Kiki Nyanok (18’ 3 ¼”) and Joel Rathe (23’ ½”) won Concordia Invite titles in the long jump. Already national qualifier in the high jump, Zoey Walker hit the ‘B’ standard in that event on Friday.

Other not previously mentioned second-place clams were made by Asche in the hammer, Boyer in the javelin, Luke Hammang in the race walk, Emma Lloyd in the discus, Rodencal in the 200 meters, Stottlemyre in the javelin and the women’s 4x100-meter relay. The 4x1 was made up of Cambria Saunders, Kirchner, Kellie Rhodes and Rodencal.

Said Beisel in summing it up, “I’m very thankful for the team, administration and staff effort it took to pull off the meet. We put on a first-class athlete and fan experience. We give all glory to God and look forward to what’s to come.”

Automatic National Qualifying Standards

·        Women’s 4x400m Relay (3:53.96); Esch; Tuls; Kirchner; Koepke

·        Matthew Boyer – Javelin (194’)

·        Carson Fehlhafer – Shot Put (52’ 1 ¾”)

·        Abby Gerber – Shot Put (45’ 7”)

·        Jordan Koepke – 400m Hurdles (1:03.48)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 100m Hurdles (13.84)

·        Darien Semedo – Hammer Throw (180’ 4”); Shot Put (52’ 4 ¾”)

·        Chris Wren – Hammer Throw (198’ 6”)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ 4 ¾”)

‘B’ Standards – Women’s 4x100m Relay; Connor Asche (hammer); Jenna Esch (400m); Kylahn Freiberg (1,500m); Austen Rozelle (hammer); Gretchen Stottlemyre (javelin); Zoey Walker (high jump).

Concordia Invite Champions

·        Men’s 4x800m Relay (8:10.66); Rohde; Kuncl; Robertson; Opp

·        Jenna Esch – 400 Meters (56.76)

·        Kylahn Freiberg – 1,500 Meters (4:39.98)

·        Abby Gerber – Shot Put (45’ 7”) – unseeded

·        Jordan Koepke – 400m Hurdles (1:03.48)

·        Kiki Nyanok – Long Jump (18’ 3 ¼”)

·        Nathan Pennekamp – 3,000m Steeplechase (9:51.81)

·        Joel Rathe – Long Jump (23’ ½”)

·        Adrianna Rodencal – 100m Hurdles (13.84)

·        Calvin Rohde – 1,500 Meters (3:59.65)

·        Darien Semedo – Hammer Throw (180’ 4”) – unseeded

·        Chris Wren – Hammer Throw (198’ 6”)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (16’ 4 ¾”)

Next up on the 2024 outdoor slate will be the South Dakota Track & Field Challenge on Saturday, April 13. The meet will take place at Lillibridge Track Complex in Vermillion, S.D.