Seven automatic national marks turned in at Central Nebraska Challenge

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 2, 2022 in Track & Field

Central Nebraska Challenge Results

KEARNEY, Neb. – In the first full-scale meet of the 2022 outdoor season, members of the Concordia University Track & Field team combined for seven automatic national qualifying marks. Those performances came at Saturday (April 2)’s Central Nebraska Challenge co-hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings. The meet featured athletes from 12 different institutions.

A number of athletes from Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads began the campaign last week at the Grand View Viking Relays and Doane Icebreaker Throws Meet. Among the highlights on Saturday, Sara Huss won the discus competition with one of the seven auto marks.

“I was very pleased with the overall performances we had,” Beisel said. “It was a ton of fun. There were some things that didn’t go the way kids wanted, but we also had some phenomenal early season performances with the national marks and some gigantic personal bests. We saw some really good things happen. For our distance and mid-distance runners, we’re in the heaviest training load of our season and they’re still performing out of their heads.”

Four ‘A’ standards were achieved at the Central Nebraska Challenge by throwers, including three in the hammer throw via Morgan De Jong (173’ 3”), Sarah Ragland (166’ 4”) and Chris Wren (185’ 6”). De Jong (personal best) and Ragland placed third and fourth, respectively, in the meet while Wren finished sixth amongst a loaded field. In addition, Mackenzie Ferrel (164’ 4”) narrowly missed out on an auto mark in the hammer and was the women’s top competitor in the javelin. Huss’ winning throw in the discus measured in at 151 feet. Also a member of the volleyball team, Huss was an All-American last season in the discus.

Leading the way on the track, Sarah Lewis locked up a spot at nationals while clocking in at 1:02.70 in the 400 meter hurdles. A series of ‘B’ standard qualifying times were also turned in thanks to the work of Rylee Haecker in the 1,500 meters (4:42.36) and Jordan Koepke in the 400 hurdles (1:04.34). Also in the 1,500 meter race, Kylahn Heritage finished just behind Haecker with a time of 4:45.42. Both Haecker and Heritage have their eyes on qualifying for nationals in the 1,500. On the men’s side of the 400 meters, Xavier Ross (49.16) and Jacob Jennings (49.93) came in under 50 seconds. Rachel Battershell (57.74) and Trinity Tuls (59.46) both ran the 400 in under a minute.

The final two automatic national qualifying efforts came in the pole vault as accomplished vaulters Erin Mapson and Josie Puelz ensured their tickets to Gulf Shores, Ala. Puelz placed second in the competition while clearing 12’ 7 ½” and Mapson skyed over 11’ 11 ¾.” Puelz is fresh off winning her third career pole vault national title this past indoor season. Mapson placed third at nationals and is a five-time All-American.

To close the meet, the Bulldogs got solid performances in the 5,000 meters as both Grace Reiman (19:33.29) and Camden Sesna (15:02.66) placed second in their respective races. Calvin Rohde trailed just behind Sesna and crossed the finish in 15:12.86. Sesna’s time was a personal best by more than 30 seconds and was the fifth fastest in program history. Not previously mentioned top three placements on the track came from Joel Rathe (third in the 100 meters) and Cade Kleckner (third in the 200 meters).

It was an active day for Cora Olson, who placed sixth in the 200 meters and eighth in the long jump and ran a leg for the 4x100 meter relay that clocked in at 48.42. That particular relay also included Battershell, Brittney Aitken and Lewis. On the men’s side of the 4x1, Kleckner, Rathe, Jennings and Colton Meyer finished in 45.04. Beisel believes both 4x1s have the ability to attain national qualifying times in the future. Concordia entered one 4x4 into the meet. The quartet of Keri Bauer, Tuls, Jenna Esch and Lainey Werts finished in 4:03.32. Bauer also ran a solid PR time of 2:17.24 in the 800 meters.

The first outdoor home meet of the 2022 season is coming up next Friday and Saturday (April 8-9). Day one of the meet will feature only the hammer and javelin throws before the bulk of the action kicks into gear on day two. The tentative meet schedule can be found HERE.

‘A’ standards achieved on Saturday

·        Morgan De Jong – Hammer Throw (173’ 3”)

·        Sara Huss – Discus (151’)

·        Sarah Lewis – 400 Hurdles (1:02.70)

·        Erin Mapson – Pole Vault (11’ 11 ¾”)

·        Josie Puelz – Pole Vault (12’ 7 ½”)

·        Sarah Ragland – Hammer Throw (166’ 4”)

·        Chris Wren – Hammer Throw (185’ 6”)

‘B’ standards: Rylee Haecker (1,500 Meters); Mackenzie Ferrel (Hammer Throw); Jordan Koepke (400 Hurdles).