SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Concordia has become the dominant women’s program when it comes to GPAC track and field. The Bulldogs raised another banner after accumulating 217 points in a conference title winning performance at the 2021 GPAC Indoor Track & Field Championships hosted in Sioux Center, Iowa, by Dordt. On the men’s side, Concordia placed third with 76 points (two in front of Northwestern).
Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads combined for four GPAC event titles and eight conference runner-up claims. GPAC titles were produced by Rachel Battershell (400 meters), Morgan De Jong (weight throw), Kylahn Heritage (1,000 meters) and Cody Williams (heptathlon).
“I don’t think any of us ever take a conference win for granted,” Beisel said. “It is really, really hard to win a conference title in any sport in the GPAC. I am just as pumped about this one as the first time we won. I want to keep that feeling going. I’m very proud of our women. They went into it and just started laying down the points. They just cleaned up – and our guys did great too.”
There was a spread of 80 points between the Bulldog women and second-place Hastings. In other words, there was not a whole lot of suspense in terms of the team title race. Not only did Battershell and Heritage post the aforementioned individual titles, both standouts also clocked a second-place finish apiece on the track. Junior Cora Olson emerged as the team’s top individual scorer with of four top-five placements for a total of 24 points.
Battershell blazed to a time of 56.67 while claiming her third career 400 meter GPAC title. Other winning marks were 56’ 3 ¼” by De Jong in the weight throw and 3:04.24 by Heritage in the 1,000 meters. Each of those events were fruitful from a team perspective as Concordia placed 1-3 in the 400, 1-3-7 in the weight throw and 1-3-6-8 in the 1,000 meters.
On the men’s side of things, Williams got back to the top of the mountain in the heptathlon, an event he also won at the conference level in 2019. His final point total came in at 4,956 for the heptathlon. The men got crucial points in the pole vault with Zach Zohner (15’ 11 ¼”), Zach Bennetts (15’ 7 ¼”) and Chase Berry (14’ 9 ½”) placing 2-3-4. Chris Wren (weight throw) and Wyatt Loga (high jump) both placed third while Jacob Jennings took fourth in the 400 meters. It was enough to stave off the Red Raiders for third place.
“I’m never content with third, but there’s a night and day difference for me between third and fourth,” Beisel said. “I’m really proud of the guys. I told one of the guys who scored a point today that it might make the difference. You never take any points for granted.”
It was a bit of an upset for sophomore Josie Puelz not to win the pole vault title. She placed second with her vault of 12’ 4.” Amira Cummings (fifth) and Erin Mapson (seventh) also scored in the event. The long jump also produced a lofty 22 points thanks to the work of Olson, Katie Severt, Jamey Broman and Gabby Diamond (who placed 2-3-4-6). Another 17 points came via the 600 meters with Keri Bauer (third) being the top place finisher in that event. The shot put contributed 15 points as Elle Luehr led the way with a second-place claim. Additionally, the women’s 1,000 meters accounted for 20 points.
Olson’s place finishes were second in the 55 meters, second in the long jump, fifth in the 200 meters and fifth in the triple jump. In another year, that might be good enough for GPAC Athlete of the Meet accolades, but that honor went to Lauren Tamayo of Hastings.
The top relays for Concordia included its women’s 4×4 (second), men’s 4×8 (second) and women’s 4×8 (third). The Bulldogs had dominated the women’s 4×4 in recent years. This time around, they placed second with Sarah Lewis, Bauer, Kennedy Mogul and Battershell clocking in at 3:58.68. The men’s 4×8 was made up of Camden Sesna, Calvin Rohde, Cameron Gray and Nick Price.
“Every piece of the puzzle functioned and worked to put up those points,” Beisel said. “No matter what the outcome, we give glory to God. He gave us this amazing opportunity to compete when so many others can’t. I’m very thankful for the opportunity. This gave us something to feel really good about. The joy you see on the kids’ faces is really cool.”
The women’s program has won four-straight GPAC championships over a run that includes the 2019 indoor and outdoor, the 2020 indoor and the 2021 indoor championship meets. The women’s cross country program also celebrated a 2019 GPAC title.
The 2021 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships are up next for the qualifying field. Official qualifiers will be announced by the NAIA at a later date. The national indoor meet has been moved to Yankton, S.D., this season and will take place March 3-6. For more details on the championships, click HERE.
· Rachel Battershell (400 meters)
· Morgan De Jong (weight throw)
· Kylahn Heritage (1,000 meters)
· Cody Williams (heptathlon)
GPAC Runners Up
· Women’s 4×400 meter relay
· Men’s 4×800 meter relay
· Rachel Battershell (55 hurdles)
· Kylahn Heritage (mile)
· Elle Luehr (shot put)
· Cora Olson (55 meters; long jump)
· Josie Puelz (pole vault)
· Zach Zohner (pole vault)
Please note that all individuals who earned top eight placements within the conference will be recognized in a later release. Top eight finishers are each considered all-conference athletes.