Concordia University, Nebraska's Bulldogs athletic teams are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC).
The arena located within the Walz Human Performance Complex was officially rebranded as Friedrich Arena. The naming honors the legacy and service of Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich and his wife Dr. Laurie Friedrich. Together they served Concordia University, Nebraska for nearly 30 years. Brian spent 15 years as University president and was an instrumental figure behind the Walz Complex project that was completed in 2009. Brian left Seward to accept a call as president of Concordia University, St. Paul. Concordia University, Nebraska hopes to invite the Friedrichs back for an in-person celebration of the naming on a date to be determined.
“The first reaction was shock,” says Brian. “We’re just humbled and so thankful for Concordia University, Nebraska. It’s an institution that has given our family, Laurie and myself, so much more than we ever gave it. To be recognized in that way is very, very humbling … I can’t think of a space on campus I would rather have our family name associated with than with the Walz Complex. Having the Friedrich Arena within the Walz Complex is truly a marvelous blessing.”
Coming off a GPAC championship season for the women in 2019, Head Coach Matt Beisel’s Bulldogs entered this fall with high hopes. They rallied around a team motto of “Leave No Doubt.” At the GPAC championship meet held in Yankton, S.D., on Nov. 7, Concordia settled for conference placements of fourth on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side. The women’s team climbed as high as No. 22 in the NAIA national poll and continued to receive votes as the fall came to a conclusion. The men’s squad also received votes in the late October national rankings.
Led by sophomore Kylahn Heritage, the women placed third or better at each of the five regular-season meets and claimed a championship at the Dean White Invite hosted by Doane. Meanwhile, a men’s team paced by sophomore Camden Sesna celebrated a meet title at the Hastings Bronco Stampede. Individually, Concordia’s runners came up short of all-conference accolades. The top Bulldog GPAC place finishers were Heritage (17th) for the women and sophomore Antonio Blaine (30th) for the men.
Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s Bulldogs opened up the fall with a 4-0 start that included wins over Doane, Hastings, Briar Cliff and Jamestown. It marked the first time the program had won the first four games of a season since 2013. Concordia then stumbled over the second half of the 2020 campaign and finished at 4-4 overall (fifth place in the GPAC). The victories over rivals Doane and Hastings represented high points of the season. Redshirt sophomore running back Jonah Weyand rushed for 177 yards and five touchdowns versus Hastings and was named the NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week. The Bulldog defense held three of the first four opponents to single-digit point totals.
Weyand’s emergence gave a boost to an offense that improved considerably compared to the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Blake Culbert stepped into the starting quarterback role and threw for 1,734 yards and 10 touchdown passes. Garrett Schardt caught 25 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns while becoming one of the GPAC’s top tight ends. On the defensive side of the ball, star linebacker Lane Napier eclipsed a career milestone by surpassing 400 career tackles. Up front, Chase Hammons led the team with five sacks.
Mostly unaffected by COVID-19 in terms of scheduling, Concordia Golf competed in five tournaments (10 rounds) on the men’s side and five tournaments (eight rounds) on the women’s side this fall. Head Coach Brett Muller’s women’s team enjoyed a nice run that included a team title at the Matthew Goette Fall Classic and a runner-up claim at the Buena Vista Fall Invite. With two rounds of GPAC championship action in the books, the Bulldog women sit in fourth place while the men reside in ninth place. Currently 12 strokes out of second place, the women will head into the spring with a goal of finishing second in the league.
From an individual standpoint, Seward native Kendra Placke continued to shine. She won tournament championships at the Lila Frommelt Classic and the Buena Vista Invite and collected a GPAC Golfer of the Week award. Placke (10th on the GPAC leaderboard) paced the team with an 18-hole average of 80.5. Meanwhile, Drew D’Ercole put together a nice fall for the men with two top-10 finishes and a team best scoring average of 78.4.
Shooting Sports continues to be a program on the rise while led by Head Coach Scott Moniot. The mountaintop moment of the fall occurred the weekend of Sept. 26-27 when the Bulldogs claimed the conference title at the Prairie Circuit Classic Championship. Concordia outgunned rival Midland at the conference championship while paced by top overall shooters Erin Lokke, Colten Uitermarkt and Wyatt Hambly. Moniot’s squad also seized team titles at the Midland Ice Out and the Hastings Invite. While putting on the fifth annual Concordia Bulldog Sporting Invitational, the Bulldogs placed second.
Also a graduate assistant coach, Lokke is the most decorated shooter in the program’s history. She took the individual crown at the conference championships. In addition, the team broke new program records in skeet and double trap at the Prairie Circuit Classic. Among other season highlights, Russell Malterud rattled off a perfect score in trap in the first shoot of the fall and additional high overall individual titles were won by Uitermarkt (twice), Monica Dale and Sarah Schwacher. Moniot’s Bulldogs have their sights set on competing for a national title this spring at the ACUI National Championships in San Antonio, Texas.
One of the nation’s most consistent programs again contended for a top-four spot in the GPAC standings before settling for fifth place. In year 13 guiding the program, Jason Weides has led his alma mater to an overall record of 9-3-2 (7-2-2 GPAC). The seven conference wins equaled a school record for a single season. Over 14 regular-season outings this fall, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents by a combined total of 36-17. In matchups with other strong GPAC squads, Concordia drew with Briar Cliff and routed Northwestern, 4-0. The fall portion of the schedule concluded with a 5-1 win at Presentation.
As the No. 5 seed in the GPAC tournament that will be played in the spring semester, the Bulldogs will be headed to fourth-seeded Northwestern. While there were no all-conference teams to publicize as of late November, several individual Bulldogs have put together noteworthy performances. Moises Jacobo earned the NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week award after a hat trick at Dordt while teammates Iker Casanova (twice) and Federico Andrea Simonetti collected GPAC Defensive Player of the week honors. Jacobo and Garrett Perry share the team lead with five goals apiece.
In their first season under the direction of Head Coach Thomas Goines (formerly the head coach at Concordia-Chicago), the Bulldogs bounced back and made a run at a GPAC regular-season title. They wound up placing in a tie for second with a conference mark of 9-2-1. After back-to-back defeats in early October, Concordia went 6-0-1 the rest of the way with signature wins over Hastings and Briar Cliff. Over 13 regular-season games, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents by a combined total of 34-8 with seven of those goals supplied by team leader Mikeila Martinez (two game-winners). Martinez and Cheyenne Smith recorded an overtime golden goal apiece.
Due to the postponement of the conference and national tournaments, the season will continue in the spring semester. The extension of the regular season also meant a delay in conference awards. Among individual achievements, senior goalkeeper Lindsey Carley ran her career shutout total to 22 while maintaining her spot atop the program’s all-time list for goals against average. Carley, Allee Downing and Grace Soenksen each collected a GPAC Defensive Player of the Week award in 2020.
This fall proved that the Concordia Volleyball program has staying power while guided by Head Coach Ben Boldt (third season). While postseason play is on hold until the spring semester, the Bulldogs went 12-3 in conference play and placed third in the GPAC for the second-straight year. That finish guarantees Concordia will host a GPAC quarterfinal match in either March or April (dates to be announced). The Bulldogs went 7-0 against GPAC Nebraska rivals while twice defeating College of Saint Mary, Doane and Midland. In terms of quality of victory, the straight-sets win at Dordt (fourth place in the GPAC) stood above the rest.
Balance was again a theme from an individual perspective. Returning first team All-GPAC setter Tara Callahan ranked fifth nationally this fall in assists per set. Her work at setter allowed five Bulldogs to produce more than 115 kills: Gabi Nordaker, Kara Stark, Arleigh Costello, Camryn Opfer and Kalee Wiltfong. In the back row, senior Marissa Hoerman continued her steady play. Collectively, they helped Concordia in prime position to earn another berth to nationals and a spot in the NAIA top 25.