DES MOINES, Iowa – Damp and dreary conditions were not enough to slow down two Bulldog women’s relays that blazed around the Blue Oval at the 2022 Drake Relays on Friday (April 29). Both the women’s 4x800 and 4x400 meter relays that represented Concordia University Track & Field recorded season best times that rank within the top three on the NAIA national lists. Sixteen Bulldogs competed in one or more events in what was the first day of competition for Concordia at the annual event held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads were also in action on Thursday at the Prairie Wolf Invite hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan. The Bulldogs were aiming to put some big-time marks on the board on Friday.
The Concordia women’s 4x8 did just that early in the day when Rylee Haecker, Jordan Koepke, Jenna Esch and Keri Bauer improved on the team’s season best by more than nine seconds. The quartet clocked in at 9:09.24 for the fourth fastest time in school history. The performance placed the Bulldogs in third out of 12 relays in the college division and vaulted them up to No. 2 in the NAIA (based on the leaderboard entering the day). The splits were 2:15.45 for Bauer, 2:15.45 for Haecker, 2:18.18 for Koepke and 2:20.18 for Esch. Koepke stepped into the 4x8 after having been previously scheduled to run only the 4x4.
Koepke and her 4x4 teammates also crushed it. In order, the crew included Sarah Lewis, Koepke, Jacee Pfeifer and Rachel Battershell. Concordia advanced to Saturday’s finals of the event with a season best of 3:49.86 for the third fastest time in program history. That time also ranks No. 3 on the current NAIA national list. The splits were 56.68 for Koepke, 57.54 for Lewis, 57.74 for Pfeifer and 57.91 for Battershell. This marks the first time ever that the Bulldogs have qualified a women’s 4x4 for the finals at the Drake Relays. Concordia placed eighth in the preliminary round.
In the women’s pole vault, Josie Puelz went up against mostly NCAA Division I competition and placed ninth out of 24 athletes at the Drake Relays. Puelz cleared her first height of 12’ 8 ¼” before missing on three tries at 13’ 1 ¼.” Puelz continues to lead the NAIA in the event with her season best of 13’ 5 ¼” accomplished two weeks ago at the Loper Invitational. The Lincoln Lutheran alum was the only NAIA athlete to take part in the pole vault at the Drake Relays.
The 4x100 meter relays came up short of the times they were hoping to achieve. On the women’s side, the combination of Battershell, Brittney Aitken, Lewis and Cora Olson finished in 48.73 (13th place out of 31), just over a half a second slower than Concordia’s season best ‘B’ standard of 48.19. Meanwhile, the Bulldog men’s quartet featured Cade Kleckner, Joel Rathe, Jacob Jennings and Xavier Ross. That group clocked in at 42.33 and placed 19th out of 31 teams. Entering the meet, the team’s season best was a ‘B’ standard of 41.61. Unfortunately, the Concordia men’s 4x4 was a scratch.
Two others who competed as individuals on Friday were Battershell in the 400 meters and Wyatt Loga in the high jump. Battershell ran 1:01.23 in the 400 while Loga missed on his three attempts at clearing 6’ 6 ¾.”
It will be a light Saturday for the Bulldogs from a wholistic team perspective, but the program will be represented at the Drake Relays by the athletes listed below. Sarah Ragland and Chris Wren will be looking to improve upon already existing automatic national qualifying marks in the hammer throw. As a wrap up to the weekend, the women’s 4x4 will take the track one more time at Drake.
Bulldogs competing Saturday at Drake Relays
· Sarah Ragland, Hammer Throw (11:30 a.m.)
· Chris Wren, Hammer Throw (2:30 p.m.)
· Women’s 4x400 Meter Relay – Sarah Lewis, Jordan Koepke, Jacee Pfeifer, Rachel Battershell (4:36 p.m.)