Bulldog Athletic Association Athletes of the Week: Due to the absence of the weekly BAAM meetings, Athletes of the Week will not be announced. BAAM meetings have now been canceled for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year.
News and notes:
Cheer & Dance teams place second while hosting third annual invite: Concordia’s cheer and dance teams are performing at a consistently high level this season. The improvement continued last week as both Bulldog squads placed second while hosting the third annual Concordia Cheer & Dance Invitational. Concordia was joined inside Friedrich Arena by seven teams in dance and five in cheer. Head Coach Mandi Maser oversaw squads that posted scores of 71.26 in dance and 66.18 in cheer. Perennial power Midland won championships on both sides. The Bulldogs defeated five GPAC opponents in dance and three GPAC foes in cheer. Maser’s teams will make their final home competition appearances of the season on Wednesday while performing in conjunction with the basketball games versus Hastings. For more information on the cheer and dance programs, click the following links: Cheer | Dance.
Baseball/softball seasons nearing: Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating this week for baseball and softball teams that were originally scheduled to open their 2021 seasons this Saturday in Kansas against nonconference opponents. Coaches Ryan Dupic and Shawn Semler lead teams with aspirations of winning GPAC titles this spring. For a detailed look at both squads, check out the season previews below. We also detailed the return of five 2020 baseball seniors in a feature linked HERE.
–Baseball Season Preview
–Softball Season Preview
Olson 400: Last week Drew Olson earned career victory No. 400 as head coach of the women’s basketball program. His career record now stands at 401-105 after a 2-0 week. The wins are nice, but the student-athletes Olson has coached have left with memories that go beyond the on-court success. As current Bulldog Taylor Cockerill said, “Not only is he an amazing coach, but he is an even better person off the floor.” In light of win No. 400, a group of past/present Bulldogs reflected on what Olson has meant to them. Read their thoughts HERE.
Football welcomes 36 recruits as of National Signing Day: On National Signing Day 2021 (Feb. 3), the Concordia Football program announced an initial group of 36 recruits for the incoming fall class. The class includes 23 native Nebraskans as well as at least one student-athlete each from California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. For more details on the 2021 football class, click HERE.
Current fan attendance policy: In accordance with Directed Health Measures released by the state of Nebraska, Concordia continues to allow 50 percent capacity in indoor facilities. Please note that spectators will not be permitted to attend indoor track and field meets (per GPAC policy). For additional details on how to purchase tickets to Bulldog Athletic events, see the paragraph below regarding HomeTown ticketing.
HomeTown Ticketing and Fan protocols for home events: Fans who plan to attend Concordia Athletics home events are advised to read through our protocols HERE. All fans are expected to self-screen and are required to wear masks while viewing contests in either Bulldog Stadium or Walz Arena. Non-family members are welcome to be present on our campus during these contests. Fans are also encouraged to order advance tickets through HomeTown Ticketing. By purchasing tickets online, fans are guaranteed entrance on game days. Concordia is allowing 75 percent capacity in outdoor venues and 50 percent capacity in indoor venues.
Bulldog Coaches Show airs every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. CT: The Bulldog Coaches Show is underway in its fifth year of existence. The show airs live for a half hour every Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT on KTMX-FM 104.9 Max Country. The weekly feature can also be heard live via 104.9 Max Country’s website or by downloading the Max Country app. Throughout the 2020-21 season, Bulldog football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball contests will be aired live on Max Country. Evan Jones serves as the host of the coaches’ show as well as the play-by-play voice for football and basketball. Frank Greene is in his sixth season calling Concordia volleyball.
Concordia Sports Network: Live webcasts for most home varsity contests can be accessed by visiting https://www.cune.edu/
· In a significant week in terms of GPAC standings and national tournament prospects, the 25th-ranked Bulldogs came through in a big way. Concordia went on the road and earned a 77-71 win over Dordt on Feb. 3 before returning home to claim a 76-69 triumph over Dakota Wesleyan on Feb. 6. Those results were needed to maintain second place in the GPAC standings with Northwestern (14-5 GPAC) having won nine games in a row. Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad has moved to 16-7 overall and to 15-5 inside the GPAC. For more information on Concordia Women’s Basketball, click HERE.
· With the victory at Dordt, Olson recorded win No. 400 in a head coaching career that begin with the 2006-07 season. Olson has been the winningest coach in program history ever since passing Carl Everts (195 wins) in November of 2014. He is also now the second basketball coach in school history to record at least 400 wins, joining his former college coach, Grant Schmidt, who went 445-276 over 23 seasons leading Bulldog Men’s Basketball. According to NAIA records, Olson is one of 14 active NAIA women’s basketball coaches with 400+ wins.
· It’s fair to say Olson has done a masterful job considering the program graduated six seniors who all played significant roles on last season’s team that was ranked No. 1 in NAIA Division II when the national tournament was canceled. Olson also steered this current group past an 0-3 start that included three rare home defeats. By going 16-4 since then, the Bulldogs have returned to the NAIA top 25 and are making a case for a potential national tournament at-large bid (should they not earn one of the GPAC’s two automatics). Entering this past weekend, Massey Ratings listed Concordia as the No. 12 team in the NAIA.
· They may not be as hyper up-tempo as previous year’s teams, but these Bulldogs have been impressive lately in terms of taking care of the basketball. Last week, Concordia posted its two lowest single-game turnover totals of the season. It committed eight turnovers at Dordt and then just six versus DWU. The starting backcourt of Taylor Cockerill, Taysha Rushton and Bailey Conrad is playing smart basketball. In the point guard role, Rushton has turned the ball over just once total over the past three games. The Bulldogs had turnover margins last week of +3 at Dordt and +9 versus DWU.
· Rushton has no fear whatsoever. While putting up 23 points versus DWU, the freshman from Lubbock, Texas, reached the 20-point mark for the fifth time this season. The sharpshooter is now 51-for-150 (.340) from 3-point range this season after knocking down four treys against the Tigers. Rushton ranks 11th among GPAC players in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Her career high remains the 28 points she scored at Northwestern on Jan. 2.
· Rushton is a nice compliment to Cockerill in a backcourt that ranks as one of the GPAC’s best. Cockerill went into attack mode at Dordt (9-for-21 from the floor) while racking up 26 points. She does a whole lot more than just score, especially when factoring in her leadership abilities. Cockerill also notched her fifth game with double-digit rebounds when she grabbed 12 boards (seven offensive) versus DWU. It’s rare for a guard to average 6.7 rebounds per game (team high) as the Waverly High School product has done.
· Junior Rylee Pauli put together a nice week of her own. She was all over the boards at Dordt while pulling in a career best 14 rebounds in the road win. Pauli’s hustle helped Concordia outrebound the Defenders (49-44), who happen to rank near the top 10 of the NAIA in rebound margin. For the week, Pauli totaled 21 points and 18 rebounds. In her first season as a starter, Pauli is averaging 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
· The 3-point shooting has also been a real key. After the team’s 3-point percentage hovered around 30 percent for much of the first half of the season, the Bulldogs have heated up from long range. Their season percentage now sits at 33.0 – fourth best in the GPAC. Concordia has drained at least 10 treys in four-straight games, including the 14 it canned versus DWU. In terms of percentage, the top threats for the Bulldogs have been Taylor Farrell (.384), Cockerill (.341) and Rushton (.340).
· In this week’s only outing, Concordia will host Hastings (6-15, 5-14 GPAC) at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Four seniors will be recognized prior to tipoff. While the Broncos have struggled this season, they played the Bulldogs to the wire back on Dec. 2 when Concordia used a game-ending 9-0 run to pull out a 73-66 win. The Bulldogs have won 11 of the past 12 series meetings.
· Had it performed just a bit better in the first half of last week’s road outing, Concordia could have easily won twice. A sluggish start doomed the Bulldogs to a 75-69 loss at Dordt on Feb. 3. Three days later, Concordia rebounded for an 89-77 home win over 16th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan in an offensive showcase. It remains a battle for a top four placement in the GPAC. The Bulldogs (15-8, 12-6 GPAC) are in fifth place, but are right on the heels of Northwestern (13-5) and Dakota Wesleyan (12-5). Head Coach Ben Limback’s program placed in a tie for fourth in the 2019-20 GPAC regular season. For more information on Concordia Men’s Basketball, click HERE.
· Other than the one blemish (95-77 loss to No. 9 Morningside), the Bulldogs have been downright dominant at home. They are 9-1 this season when playing inside Friedrich Arena, and only one of those nine wins has come by a single-digit margin – 77-74 over Northwestern. Concordia has controlled the action in GPAC home wins over Midland (82-55), Dordt (82-59), Mount Marty (82-71), Jamestown (81-70), Briar Cliff (81-58) and Dakota Wesleyan (89-77). In their 10 home games, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents, on average, 84.8 to 67.2, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field.
· Limback (249-263 career record) has moved closer to 250 coaching victories. Prior to becoming head coach at his alma mater, Limback guided the program at Concordia University, Ann Arbor for nine seasons and won 115 games (and two CIT championships). Of course the highlight of Limback’s time leading the Bulldogs was last season’s GPAC tournament championship run and berth in the national tournament. The 2019-20 team finished with an overall record of 24-10. The 2016-17 squad (21-10) also reached the 20-win mark.
· It was an absolutely monstrous week for Gage Smith, who put up 19 points, 12 rebounds and three assists at Dordt. He proceeded to go off against Dakota Wesleyan, piling up a career high 32 points to go along with nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. The 6-foot-6 junior from Elizabeth, Colo., netted 5-of-9 tries from 3-point range while scorching the Tigers. After those two big-time performances, Smith is now averaging 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds for the season. He’s also shooting 52.3 percent from the floor and 34.7 percent from 3-point range.
· The 32-point outburst for Smith marked the first time a Bulldog has reached 30 points since Brevin Sloup (current graduate assistant) did so in an upset win over Briar Cliff on Jan. 12, 2019. Sloup put up a career high 33 points in that instance. Even Carter Kent and Justin Wiersema have yet to crack 30 points in a single game. Kent and Wiersema own career bests of 29 points in a contest. For those wondering, the school record for most points scored in a single game is 47 by Jon Ziegler on Feb. 17, 2007, vs. the University of Sioux Falls.
· Smith’s big day helped make up for the absence of starter Ryan Holt, who left the game at Dordt with an injury. Klay Uher got the start in Holt’s absence. On a day when seemingly everything was clicking offensively, the inside combo of Uher (six points on 3-for-4 shooting) and Cory Davila (12 points on 5-for-5 shooting) combined to go 8-for-9 from the floor. A 6-foot-7 freshman from Basehor, Kan., Davila’s role is likely to increase in future years. His 12 points were a career high (topping previous best of 10).
· Due to the cancelation of CIT and a bye in the schedule, Concordia had an unusual break of 10 days between games after it defeated Briar Cliff on Jan. 23. Whether it was the layoff or not, the opening to the game at Dordt was rough. The Bulldogs trailed by 16 at one point in the first half. They eventually got all the way back within one in the second half before falling. Smith and Kent led the comeback efforts. Kent drilled 4-of-6 shots from 3-point range at Dordt and was 6-for-9 from beyond the arc for the week.
· Wins against Dakota Wesleyan have been difficult to come by in recent years. In fact, Concordia ended a seven-game regular-season series losing streak to the Tigers with last week’s victory. Prior to this past weekend, the Bulldogs had not defeated DWU at home since taking down the Tigers, 95-79, on Dec. 3, 2016. Concordia has now won two of the past three meetings with DWU when factoring in the 2020 GPAC tournament title game at the Corn Palace.
· The hope for the Bulldogs is to continue their home success when action picks back up next week. The scheduled game with Hastings has been postponed until next Wednesday (Feb. 17) with tipoff time at 7 p.m. CT. Earlier this season, Concordia defeated the Broncos, 86-77, in Hastings. The Bulldogs have won each of the past 10 get-togethers with the Broncos.
Track & Field
· The 2021 indoor season is now five meets deep for the Bulldogs, who hosted the Concordia Classic on Feb. 5. For the second home meet in a row, Concordia was joined solely by athletes from GPAC rivals Doane and Hastings. The highlights included a school record performance from Josie Puelz and a total of 10 event championships. In addition, the Bulldog women’s 4×400 meter relay blazed to a time that ranks No. 2 in all of the NAIA. Head Coach Matt Beisel’s nationally-ranked squads are spending all of their pre-GPAC schedule at either their own Fieldhouse or at Doane. For more information on Concordia Track & Field, click HERE.
· At the Early Bird meet (Dec. 4-5), Concordia athletes combined for what were classified at the time as nine automatic national marks, nine ‘B’ standard national marks and five marks that met the minimum national standard in the heptathlon/pentathlon. Since that meet, the NAIA announced that the national championships would simply include the top 16 in each event. Bulldogs who are currently in the top 10 nationally (as of Sunday) of their respective events are listed below. There are 35 total marks listed.
o Women’s 4×400 meter relay, 2nd (3:54.37)
o Men’s 4×400 meter relay, 4th (3:19.01)
o Women’s 4×800 meter relay, 4th (9:37.74)
o Men’s distance medley relay, 8th (10:23.22)
o Women’s distance medley relay, 3rd (12:24.63)
o Anna Baack – pole vault, 7th (11’ 8”)
o Rachel Battershell – 400 meters, 2nd (56.71); 600 meters, 5th (1:35.93); 60 hurdles, 7th (8.95)
o Zach Bennetts – pole vault, 6th (15’ 8 ¼”)
o Chase Berry – pole vault, 10th (15’ 3”)
o Jamey Broman – long jump, 9th (18’ 5”)
o Olivia Buschow – weight throw, 10th (52’ 5 ¼”)
o Amira Cummings – pole vault, 10th (11’ 7 ¾”)
o Morgan De Jong – weight throw, 3rd (56’ 10’ ¾”)
o Abigail Gerber – shot put, 9th (42’ 7 ½”)
o Rylee Haecker – 1,000 meters, 6th (2:59.65)
o Kylahn Heritage – mile, 6th (5:07.57)
o Sarah Lewis – 60 hurdles, 4th (8.88); 400 meters, 8th (57.99)
o Wyatt Loga – high jump, 5th (6’ 9”)
o Emily Loy – pentathlon, 8th (3,188)
o Elle Luehr – shot put, 5th (43’ 9 ¾”)
o Colton Meyer – 400 meters, 8th (48.91); 60 hurdles, 10th (8.17)
o Jacee Pfeifer – 600 meters, 9th (1:36.75)
o Josie Puelz – pole vault, 1st (13’ 4 ½”)
o Sarah Ragland – weight throw, 4th (55’ ¼”)
o Amy Richert – high jump, 5th (5’ 5 ¼”)
o Xavier Ross – 400 meters, 5th (48.09)
o Katie Severt – long jump, 8th (18’ 7 ¼”)
o Cody Williams – heptathlon, 2nd (5,030); high jump, 5th (6’ 9”); pole vault, 10th (15’ 3”)
o Chris Wren – weight throw, 9th (58’ 8 ¾”)
· Puelz is undoubtedly a serious contender for a pole vault national title after placing third at the 2020 NAIA indoor national championships. At last week’s Concordia Classic, Puelz cleared 13’ 4 ½” while breaking the school record previously held by former teammate Allie Brooks (13’ 4 ¼”), the 2020 NAIA national runner up. From a national perspective, Puelz is in a close battle with Victoria Faber of Aquinas College (Mich.), who has a season best vault of 13’ 1 ½.” Puelz is the leader of a Bulldog women’s pole vault group rated as the best in the NAIA. Teammates Anna Baack (11’ 8”) and Amira Cummings (11’ 7 ¾”) also sit top 10 in the nation.
· Rachel Battershell and Sarah Lewis also continues to shine as two of the program’s brightest stars. They both clocked 60 meter hurdles times under 9.0 seconds last week and then helped lead the 4×400 meter relay to a time of 3:57.48 (converted to 3:54.37 for the national list), second best in the NAIA. Battershell currently ranks in the top 10 nationally of three separate individual events: 400 meters, 600 meters and 60 hurdles. Lewis is currently No. 4 in the 60 hurdles.
· The Bulldogs got some good work accomplished in the throws last week with five total marks that were season bests AND also rank in the top 10 of the NAIA. Those were delivered by Elle Luehr (shot put), Abigail Gerber (shot put), Chris Wren (weight throw), Sarah Ragland (weight throw) and Olivia Buschow (weight throw). Also a former basketball player, Luehr ranks in the top five of the NAIA shot put list.
· A two-time GPAC Track Athlete of the Week this season, sophomore Kylahn Heritage blazed to a personal best of 5:10.61 in the mile and won the event at the Concordia Classic. Other women’s winners on the track included Keri Bauer (600 meters), Sydney Clark (5,000 meters) and Rylee Haecker (1,000 meters). Bauer became the third Bulldog this season to run the 600 in under 1:40. When converted to the national performance list, Haecker’s 1,000 meter time comes in at less than three minutes (2:59.65).
· The Concordia men earned first-place finishes on the track courtesy of Jacob Jennings (400 meters), Camden Sesna (1,000 meters) and Christian Van Cleave (600 meters). In the very last action of the night, Jennings and Van Cleave joined a 4×4 group that included Cade Kleckner and Henry Reimer. They finished in 3:23.44, a hair behind first-place Doane. Beisel was also pleased with the mile performances of Calvin Rohde (4:25.90) and Sesna (4:27.69), in particular.
· The final meet prior to the GPAC Championships (Feb. 19-20) will take place this Saturday as the Bulldogs host the Concordia Invite. Concordia entered last week’s meet with top five NAIA national rankings – second on the women’s side and fourth on the men’s side. The USTFCCCA releases new sets of computer ratings every Wednesday during the season.
· Last week provided a final opportunity for the Bulldogs to get some matches under their belt prior to the conference tournament. In the last dual of the 2020-21 season, Concordia fell at home to York College, 28-14, on Feb. 4 (as part of senior night). Two days later, a group of 10 Bulldogs competed at the Sioux City Dave Edmonds Open and totaled 19 wins and three place finishes. To this point in the season, Head Coach Levi Calhoun’s squad has competed in 16 duals (5-11 overall) and five tournaments. For more information on Concordia Wrestling, click HERE.
· While the Bulldogs have taken some lumps at times this season, they have gotten a glimpse at a potentially bright future. In the dual with York, three of Concordia’s four wins came from freshmen: Jeaven Scdoris (141), TJ Huber (174) and Jacob Telles (285). Scdoris came through with one of the night’s surprises when he upset the Panthers’ Pierce Mederios, the NAIA’s 11th-ranked wrestler at 133. Meanwhile, Huber earned a close 7-5 win by decision over Dereck Samudio and Telles ended the evening with a pin of Ja’Kavion Williams.
· Telles deserves special mention for the incredible rookie season he has enjoyed. The native of Albuquerque, N.M., went 4-2 at the Edmonds Open to run his season win total to 30 (to go against 12 defeats). Ranked 17th nationally in the most recent NAIA heavyweight rankings, Telles leads the team in both wins and pins (13). The fourth-place claim Telles earned at the Edmonds Open marked his fourth tournament place finish of the 2020-21 season.
· Calhoun has referred to Huber as the hardest worker on the team. The Gretna, Neb., native defeated GPAC opponents in Midland’s Jeshua Castillo (pin) and Northwestern’s Tyler Zeimen (major decision) on his way to the 174-pound Edmonds Open championship match. Huber was then upended by Massoma Endene of Iowa Lakes Community College. Like Telles, Huber has been a constant in virtually every tournament and dual and has collected 16 wins this season. Huber also took fourth place at the York Open and third place at the Dakota Wesleyan Open.
· Eight Concordia wrestlers have accumulated 10 or more wins this season: Telles (30-12), Burks (21-8), Scdoris (18-17), Mason Garcia (16-9), Huber (16-18), Mario Ybarra (12-1), Tavoris Smith (12-14) and Jose Sanchez (12-15). Ybarra is ranked sixth in the NAIA at 133 and owns an active 12-match win streak. The native of Scottsbluff, Neb., has not wrestled since the Concordia Bulldog Duals (Dec. 19). In addition to Ybarra’s national ranking, Telles is ranked 17th in the NAIA at 285 and Burks (20th at 157) also appeared in the latest rankings.
· If things come together heading into the GPAC tournament, the Bulldogs could make some noise. Injuries have played a role in Concordia going 5-11 in duals. Stalwarts like Burks, Gabe Crawford and Ybarra (all team captains) have each been in and out of the lineup due to injuries. Based on last week’s GPAC ratings, Ybarra (133), Burks (157) and Telles (285) would each be favorites to reach the GPAC championship match of their respective weight classes. Crawford and Ybarra both won GPAC titles last season.
· In addition to the win over Jamestown that came on Jan. 30, the Bulldogs own dual victories this season over Dakota Wesleyan, Midland, Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Waldorf University (Iowa). At times this season, the dual lineup has been greatly affected by injuries, as it was for the Concordia Bulldog Duals, a series of three duals at Northwestern and the GPAC Duals. Concordia finished in a tie for fifth place in the GPAC regular-season standings. Former Bulldog head coach Dana Vote led Doane to a conference title.
· Concordia will have this week off from competition as it continues to gear up for the GPAC Championships that will be hosted by Midland on Feb. 19-20. Last season Calhoun guided the Bulldogs to a team conference tournament championship that included individual titles from Crawford, Tanner Farmer and Ybarra. The program has won GPAC/regional postseason championships in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020.