HASTINGS, Neb. – The outdoor season opened up on Saturday for two Concordia University track and field squads coming off top-five finishes just weeks ago at the indoor national championships. The Bulldogs haven’t missed a beat. Twelve Concordia throwers combined for 22 automatic national qualifying marks and seven event titles in the Bronco Invite hosted by Hastings. Senior Stephanie Coley took first in all three of her events: discus, hammer throw and shot put.
That type of dominance has become expected of Concordia throwers, who took home 14 All-America awards and a pair of national titles this past March. They appear poised for another monster season. “To start the season off like we did was crazy,” said throws coach Ed McLaughlin. “I was just real happy with all of them.”
The only female throwing event not won by Coley was taken by senior Liz King, who posted an automatic mark in the javelin – an event in which she won a national title in back in 2014. On the men’s side, Zach Lurz bested the field in both the discus and shot put while teammate Josh Slechta rose to the top of the hammer throw competition.
Most of the marks turned in by Concordia’s throwers came as little surprise, but Coley’s dominance stood out above and beyond. She hurled personal bests in the hammer and discus, an event not known as a specialty for Coley. She hit on a mark of over 149 feet in the prelims of the discus and called it a day. Quite a day.
“For her to PR in the hammer throw like she did was awesome,” McLaughlin said. “When she popped that throw in the prelims of the discus, ‘it was like, all right, we’re done.’ You don’t even think you’re going to throw someone in an event and she wins it walking away.”
Coley was the leader of a sterling effort in the women’s hammer throw. The Bulldogs placed five of the top six in the event. Concordia also hogged the top four spots in the men’s hammer and men’s discus, the top three and four of the top five in the men’s shot put and three of the top four in the women’s shot put. “With the schools there it’s a pretty good indicator of how conference is going to go,” McLaughlin said.
On the track, junior Lucas Wiechman turned in victories in both the 110 meter (15.36) and 400 meter hurdles (56.55) and received praise from head coach Kregg Einspahr. Wiechman also cleared 15' 5" in the pole vault for an automatic national qualifying mark. The Bulldog men’s 4x400 meter relay clocked in at 3:19.13 for a first-place finish. In her only individual race of the day, Kim Wood just missed out on an automatic national qualifying time in a winning effort in the 800 meters (2:14.69).
An All-American during indoor season, freshman McKenzie Gravo already locked up her trip to outdoor nationals by winning the pole vault. She cleared 11’ 9 ¾.”
Others noted by Einspahr included Evan Asche (fifth in the 10,000), Kohlton Gabehart (sixth in the 10,000), CJ Muller (third in the 800) and Emily Sievert (second in the 10,000) and the group of female jumpers (Katelyn Shoup finished third in the triple jump). Said Einspahr, “It was a good day for us overall.”
The Bulldogs now look forward to hosting the annual Concordia Outdoor Invite next Saturday (April 9) inside Bulldog Stadium. The tentative event schedule can be viewed HERE.
Automatic national qualifiers