By Taylor Mueller
CRETE, Neb. – It was another big day for the third-ranked Concordia University track and field programs, as the Bulldogs claimed ten event titles in the two days of action at the Jim Dutcher Memorial meet held Friday and Saturday at Doane College.
“Up and down the line that’s a high quality meet and we’re rounding into form extremely well,” head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “We’ve only got a week-and-a-half before the conference championships so it’s about time to be putting up good marks and rounding into form. We had a good day both on the track and in the field. I really thought we had good stuff going on.”
Having gone relatively quiet in the outdoor season, the distance running squad was able to muster out a couple national qualifying marks as well.
Coming through with perhaps the breakout performance of the season was senior Erika Schroeder, who punched her ticket to the national meet in the steeplechase with a first-place finish to go with a time of 11:14. Schroeder dropped 13 seconds from a weekend ago to advance to perhaps the biggest stage in her collegiate career.
Einspahr took note of the impressive performance, and explained the mentality Schroeder has maintained through her final season and the tremendous strides she has made since her early years as a distance runner.
“Occasionally you have an athlete who keeps working at things and they don’t always go smoothly in terms of huge improvements right away,” Einspahr said. “But if they stick with it, especially with the kind of foot speed Erika has, good things can happen. There’s a little realization for her that this is the last go round of competing at the college level. Sometimes you see big breakthroughs in a senior year, which Erika has shown. I give her a lot of credit for sticking with it and staying focused and finally putting it all together. She’s put in a lot of work the last couple years.”
Junior Kim Wood earned her own trip to the national meet with a first place finish in the 1,500 meter run in 4:40. Wood also notched a second place finish in the 800 meter run, clocking in with another automatic qualifying time of 2:13.
Also collecting first -lace accolades was junior Katelyn Shoup, who marked up at 37’01 ¾” in the triple jump. Junior Cynthia Mick took second in the pole vault with a clearance of 11’05 ¾” while junior Shelby Stolze took second in the 100 meter hurdles in 15:43. The 4x400 meter relay team of Wood, sophomores Marti Vlasin, Alayna Daberkow and Marielle Plunk took second in 3:58.
On the men’s side, sophomore Zach Lurz took care of business in the shot put, earning a mark of 56’ 5 ¼” to take first place, while junior Jose Rojas placed second with a toss of 52’ 8 ¼.” Lurz also championed the discuss competition with a throw of 174’ 1.”
Lurz served as the headliner for Concordia’s well-stocked stable of throwers who also got event titles on the weekend from Cody Boellstorff (hammer throw), Liz King (javelin) and Kali Robb (hammer throw). A fresh automatic national qualifying mark was turned in by senior Brittany Erdmann (44’ 7 ½”) in the shot put.
In the 10,000 meter race, freshman Kohlton Gabehart clocked in at 35:01.04 for a first-place finish. He beat out competitors from Doane who finished second and third.
Sophomore CJ Muller took second in the 400 meter competition in 48.86 while senior Taiheem Pleasant finished in second place in the 400 meter hurdles in 54:52. Sophomore Chris Shelton took second in the steeplechase in 10:05. Racing to a second place finish was the 4x400 meter relay team of seniors Matt Chapa and Taiheem Pleasant, junior Jaap Van Gaalen and sophomore CJ Muller. The quartet clocked in at 3:17.
Rounding up the day’s action were the Concordia decathletes, who took second and third to the credit of sophomores Lucas Wiechman and Brandon Cook respectively. Wiechman finished with 6468 points while Cook tallied 6183 points.
“We looked a lot better on the track today,” Einspahr said. “We had some 800 meter runners in particular start to come around and our women’s 4x4 had a good day. Our men’s 4x4 has run consistently well. This is the second week in a row we’ve run 3:17. We’re knocking on the door of getting a breakthrough I hope and maybe get that down to 3:15 or so and qualify for the national championships. I think overall we’ve had some big improvements on the track with our women’s hurdlers, 800 meter runners and women’s 4x4. Some of those things are really starting to come around for us.”
A number of Concordia athletes will be back in action again on Wednesday, April 22 to compete in the Concordia Mid-Week Classic. A majority of the athletes will compete on Thursday, April 23 at the Nebraska Wesleyan Dual Meet in Lincoln, Neb.