SEWARD, Neb. – Senior Cassie Starks eclipsed a school record in the pole vault and emerged as one of 12 Bulldogs (including all four men’s 4x400 runners) who claimed event titles at the Concordia University track and field program’s home-opening meet of the outdoor season. In addition, Trey Barnes popped off a big personal best in the discus to highlight another impressive day for Concordia throwers.
Near perfect weather for a track meet, other than a mild breeze, aided in several outstanding marks posted by Bulldog athletes. Concordia entered the meet ranked third nationally on the women’s side and eighth on the men’s side, according to the USTFCCCA.
“We had some very good performances today,” Bulldog head coach Kregg Einspahr said. “Our throwers continue to be compete at the top of the national level. We had some other really good things happen on the track.”
Starks, who began the day with a share of the outdoor pole vault record, leapt the school standard with her mark of 12’ 6 ¼”, bumping up her NAIA national-leading mark by a quarter-inch. She topped the field of 20 vaulters. Teammate Cynthia Mick finished runner up with her clearance of 12’ 2 ½.”
One of this season’s most promising breakout performers, Barnes improved his personal best in the discus by more than eight feet with his event-winning toss of 165’ 3.” That mark ranks him fifth on the program’s all-time list.
“I just thought to myself that this could be a good day to pop one out there,” Barnes said. “I just wanted to get a good mark to start and from there things took off.”
Concordia throwers were also dominant in the hammer throw on both sides. Sophomore Kali Robb unleashed a personal best throw of 187’ (second in school history) that outdistanced all NAIA marks as of the start of the weekend. Liz King, who won the javelin competition (148’ 6”) once again, turned in her own PR of 182’ 7” for a runner-up hammer throw. In addition, junior Kattie Cleveland qualified for nationals and placed fifth with her mark of 177’ 10.”
In the men’s hammer, juniors Cody Boellstorff (202’ 1”) and Josh Slechta (191’ 1”) went 1 and 2. Slechta, the indoor weight throw national champion, moved up to No. 4 on the school’s all-time hammer throw list with his personal best on Saturday. Brock Braniff (177’) and Jose Rojas (176’) put up national qualifying hammer marks as well.
In addition, Rojas qualified for the national meet in the shot put thanks to his PR of 52’ 10.” The Concordia men held down the top four slots in the shot put with Trey Farmer (second), Boellstorff (third) and Barnes (fourth) falling next in line.
On the track, five-time GPAC titlist Kim Wood turned in a fine double with runner-up claims in both the 800 and 1,500 meter runs. Her time of 2:14.14 in the 800 meters punched her ticket to the national championships. In the 1,500, she missed the automatic mark by under five seconds with a time of 4:44.92. Said Einspahr, “she would have liked to have won both races, but she’s come a long ways and is running very well.”
The Bulldogs finished off the meet by winning the men’s 4x400 meter relay. Concordia anchor CJ Muller crossed the finish line after 3:17.21 had elapsed, putting the Bulldogs just over a second off the automatic national qualifying time.
“Our men’s 4x4 looked real good today and came through with a real nice performance on our home track. It’s always a really nice feeling to finish up a big meet like today with a winning 4x4. It really leaves a good taste in your mouth and puts everybody in good spirits leaving the meet.”
Two other first-place finishes were recorded on the track. Sophomore Randi Janzen broke the one-minute barrier in the 400 meter dash with her personal best of 59.69. Then in the men’s 400 meter hurdles, senior Tai Pleasant outran the field of 21 by clocking in at 55.32.
For the first time this outdoor season, sophomore Lucas Wiechman cracked the automatic mark in the pole vault by jumping 16’ ¾”, good for third place.
In the steeplechase, senior Erika Schroeder drew nearer to the automatic qualifying time with her third-place finish in 11:27.26 (less than eight minutes from the ‘A’ mark). In addition, junior Katelyn Shoup placed second in the triple jump, narrowly missing the automatic mark with her figure of 37’ 8 ¾.” Another second-place claim was made by Katricia Svoboda (156’ 2”) in the discus. In the men’s 400 meter dash, sophomore CJ Muller posted a solid 49.49 third-place time.
The Bulldogs return to action on Friday and Saturday for the Doane Relays. Their final home meet will take place on May 8 when they host the Concordia Twilight Meet.