JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – By the time the dust settled, the weekend haul for the Concordia University track and field programs included one Outstanding Performer of the Meet (Lucas Wiechman), three individual national titles, three national runner ups, 14 total All-America performances and team finishes of second on the men’s side and seventh on the women’s side. The Bulldog men combined for 57 total points while the women compiled 31 points at the 2017 Indoor Track & Field National Championships, which took place over three days in Johnson City, Tenn.
First-year head coach Matt Beisel’s squad beat out all of their GPAC rivals in the national race. The men have now turned in top-five finishes at five national championship meets in a row. That string includes a national title (2015 outdoor) and two runner-up claims.
“Our athletes are not defined by their seed marks,” Beisel said. “We had a lot of guys and girls step up and perform beyond their current bests and it made a big difference. I’m so super proud of them for just putting everything out there. It was just awesome watching them. They fought hard in every event.”
For the fourth time in his distinguished career, Zach Lurz is a national champion. The 14-time All-American has now won three indoor shot put national titles in a row. On Saturday, he produced a season best toss of 58’ 6 ¾.” He entered the meet tied atop the national list after capturing the GPAC championship in the event. He totaled 16 points all by himself after factoring in his third-place weight throw (personal best) finish from Friday.
Wiechman has literally done it all during his senior indoor season. He won three GPAC individual titles and then followed it up with a national championship in the heptathlon this weekend. That’s not all. The native of Pilger, Neb., collected All-America awards in the pole vault (third, 16’ 1 ¾”) and the 60 meter hurdles (fifth, 8.24). To close the weekend, he ran the leadoff leg for the 4x400 meter relay that galloped to a season best of 3:16.79 in the finals.
In the individual events, Wiechman racked up 20 points, allowing him to secure NAIA Indoor Track & Field Male Most Outstanding Performer honors. He earned the same award at the GPAC indoor championships.
“Coach (Mark) Samuels has more than adequately prepared him, starting this fall,” Biesel said. “I think that’s one of the big secrets to Lucas’ success. His year round training program really produces the combination of speed and endurance he needs to get through most events.”
The 4x4 was anchored by Muller, who is in the midst of a stellar senior year on the track. He is now a three-time All-American in the 600 meters. He clocked in at 1:19.26 in the finals, putting him second for his highest ever finish at the national championships. That time was also a personal best that puts him No. 2 on the school’s all-time list (behind only Nick Suing, 1:17.93).
The women’s shot put turned out to be Concordia’s most fruitful event of the weekend, in terms of number of All-Americans. In the event, freshman Adranna Shaw placed runner up (47’ 1”), senior Samantha Liermann finished fifth (46’ 4”) and senior Kali Robb took eighth (44’ 5 ¼”). Robb was also the national runner up in the weight throw that was contested on Friday.
Also on Friday, Cody Boellstorff defended his national championship in the weight throw. Other not previously mentioned All-Americans were Allie Brooks (pole vault) and Sydney Meyer (weight thow). The Bulldogs traveled a total of 19 athletes to Johnson City.
In sum, Concordia throwers produced two national titles, a runner-up finish, eight All-America awards and 41 team points.
“When Zach Lurz gets on the big stage, he steps up and competes,” Biesel said. “He’s done that the past few years.”
Beisel’s teams will begin the outdoor season March 24-25 at the Wildcat Classic hosted by Wayne State College. Concordia is coming off a national title on the women’s side and a runner-up finish on the men’s side at the 2016 NAIA outdoor championships.
After winning a men’s outdoor national title in 2015 and women’s outdoor national title in 2016, the program has created an atmosphere of high expectation. “It’s a real credit to the coaching and the team togetherness. They feed off each other. We have some really good seniors who over the last several years. This program has been blessed with great kids who can and do the job.”