SEWARD, Neb. – In its lone home meet of the outdoor season, the second (women) / third (men) ranked Concordia University track and field programs put on a show with 11 Bulldogs winning titles (in eight events) and a new school record in the hammer throw. Athletes from 11 different institutions were present for Saturday’s annual Concordia Outdoor Invitational.
The meet also provided Concordia an opportunity to present championship rings to support staff and national qualifying members of the 2015 men’s outdoor national title team. After having led Bulldog cross country and track and field to six combined national runner-up finishes, head coach Kregg Einspahr raised the trophy last year in Gulf Shores, Ala.
“I think the athletes really appreciated the gesture,” Einspahr said. “We thank our administration for putting together a fine tribute to that team that had such a great end of the season. It’s a credit to our student-athletes and all the work they do. We’re very appreciative of that. I don’t think as coaches that’s necessarily why we get into it. In a lot of respects it reflects the work we’ve done over the years. For us as coaches it’s been about the building of the program.”
Senior Josh Slechta turned in two of the 24 automatic national qualifying marks by Bulldog throwers. Slechta placed third in the hammer throw with a new school record toss of roughly 210 feet, putting him behind only two unattached competitors. Slechta highlighted another dominant day for throwers which placed three of the top four in the women’s shot put, three of the top five in the men’s shot put, three of the top four in the men’s discus, five of the top seven in the women’s hammer and three of the top five in the men’s hammer. Jan Steinbrueck broke loose with her first career national qualifying mark, which came in the discus.
Now all the way back from an injury suffered during football season, Slechta is maximizing his potential.
“Honestly it felt really good,” Slechta said. “I wasn’t really expecting to pop one off at 210, but it felt awesome. It’s nice to have really good teammates pushing you every single day.”
Junior Zach Lurz claimed runner-up finishes in the discus and shot put while posting national qualifying marks in all three of his events. Kattie Cleveland, Stephanie Coley, Liz King, Philip Kreutzer, Kali Robb, Jose Rojas and Slechta also put up automatic tosses in multiple events. King won the javelin competition with a throw of better than 41 meters.
Six of the team’s eight event titles came on the track. Senior Kim Wood cruised to wins in the 800 and 1,500 meter races. Her time of 4:38.15 in the midst of considerable wind gusts in the 1,500 meters represented a personal best and qualified her for the national championships. Other titles came from the men’s 4x400 meter relay, Trevor Bresson (400 hurdles), Chris Shelton (3,000 meter steeplechase) and Lucas Wiechman (110 meter hurdles). Wiechman also won the pole vault with a clearance of 15’ 9.”
Shelton led a flurry of strong performances by Concordia men’s steeplechase runners. In addition to Shelton, Cameron Moes (third), Kohlton Gabehart (fourth) and Taylor Mueller (fifth) all placed among the top five in the event.
“The wind holds times up, but despite that we had some really nice times on the track,” Einspahr said. “It’s not optimal but it’s spring in Nebraska. Overall this was actually a pretty nice day.”
Katelyn Shoup came up just shy of an automatic national qualifying mark in the triple jump with her second-place leap of 11.2 meters. CJ Muller also enjoyed a solid day on the track with runner-up finishes in both the 200 (22.15) and 400 meter (49.19) dashes. He helped the 4x400 meter relay to a winning time of 3:21.28. In the women’s 5k, sophomore Emily Sievert crossed the finish line in 18:35.46. McKenzie Gravo and Allison Brooks placed second and third, respectively, in the pole vault.
Meet No. 3 of the outdoor season will take place next Saturday in Kearney, Neb., where the Bulldogs will compete at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Loper Invite.
Automatic national qualifying marks (April 9)