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Concordia Athletics fall 2020 rewind

By the time December hits, the NAIA has typically reached the heat of national championship season for fall sports – not in 2020. As a reference, the Concordia Volleyball team did not finish its 2019 season until playing in the national round of 16 on Dec. 6. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAIA fall sport national championships will be contested in the spring of 2021.

On a positive note, Concordia Athletic teams managed to complete all or most of their scheduled conference regular-season action this fall. The text below provides a brief synopsis for each fall Bulldog team. The sports of golf, shooting sports, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball will continue their seasons during the spring semester.

CROSS COUNTRY

2020 GPAC Finishes: Women 4th; Men 6th
Head Coach: Matt Beisel, 5th season
Season Summary: 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.

FOOTBALL

2020 Record: 4-4 overall, 4-4 GPAC (5th)
Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow, 4th season
Season Summary: 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 and a stronger offensive line 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.

GOLF

2020 GPAC Results: Women 4th (368-359–727); Men 9th (342-330–672)
Head Coach: Brett Muller, 10th season
Season Summary: 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.
Spring GPAC Championships:
Men – Dates TBA (Dakota Dunes Country Club – Dakota Dunes, S.D.)
Women – Dates TBA (Bent Tree Golf Club – Council Bluffs, Iowa)
NAIA Championships:
Men – May 18-21, 2021 (TPC Deere Run – Silvis, Ill.)
Women – May 25-28, 2021 (Eagle Crest Golf Club – Ypsilanti, Mich.)

SHOOTING SPORTS

Conference Finish: 1st (Prairie Circuit Classic)
Head Coach: Scott Moniot, 3rd season
Season Summary: 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.
ACUI National Championships: March 22-28, 2021 (San Antonio, Texas)

MEN’S SOCCER

2020 Record: 9-3-2, 7-2-2 GPAC (5th)
Head Coach: Jason Weides, 13th season
Season Summary: 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 unofficial No. 5 seed in the GPAC tournament that will be played in the spring semester, the Bulldogs will likely be headed to fourth-seeded Northwestern. While there are currently no all-conference teams to publicize, 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.
GPAC Tournament:
Quarterfinals – April 10
Semifinals – April 13
Championship – April 16
NAIA National Tournament:
Opening Round – April 22-24, 2021 (campus sites)
Final Site – May 4-10, 2021 (Blanchard Woods Park – Columbia County, Ga.)

WOMEN’S SOCCER

2020 Record: 9-3-1 overall, 9-2-1 GPAC (T-2nd)
Head Coach: Thomas Goines, 1st season
Season Summary: 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 conference regular-season champion 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.
GPAC Tournament:
Quarterfinals – April 3
Semifinals – April 6
Championship – April 9
NAIA National Tournament:
Opening Round – April 15-17, 2021 (campus sites)
Final Site – April 27-May 3 (Ralph Schumacher Soccer Complex – Foley, Ala.)

VOLLEYBALL

2020 Record: 12-3 overall, 12-3 GPAC (3rd)
Head Coach: Ben Boldt, 3rd season
Season Summary: This fall proved that the Concordia Volleyball program has staying power while guided by Head Coach Ben Boldt. 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 early April. 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 put Concordia in prime position to earn another berth to nationals and a spot in the NAIA top 25 (no official polls were released this fall).
GPAC Tournament:
Quarterfinals – April 3
Semifinals – April 7
Championship – April 10
NAIA National Tournament:
Opening Round – April 17, 2021 (campus sites)
Final Site – April 27-May 1, 2021 (Tyson Events Center – Sioux City, Iowa)

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