CRETE, Neb. – Sophomore Josie Puelz made history on Saturday (Jan. 30) while becoming just the second female athlete in Concordia University Track & Field history to clear 13 feet in the pole vault. Puelz stood out as one of nine Bulldog event champions at the weekend’s Fred Beile Classic hosted in Crete, Neb., by Doane. In addition, sophomore Wyatt Loga and junior Cody Williams equaled the school record in the high jump competition.
Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads entered the meet with NAIA national rankings of No. 2 on the women’s side and No. 4 on the men’s side (according to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association). This marked meet No. 4 of the indoor season. The Beile Classic featured athletes from Concordia, College of Saint Mary, Doane, Hastings, Midland and York.
“This was a real confidence booster for a lot of our athletes,” Beisel said. “I feel like some things came together. We had some great things in the pole vault, especially on the girls’ side, and with the guys in the high jump. Overall I’m pleased with what I saw. I’m really pleased with our mid-distance and distance runners. We had a lot of guys and girls who ran personal bests in the 600, the 800, in the mile and the 3k.”
Named the GPAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week on Wednesday, Puelz is a rising star. The Lincoln Lutheran High School alum surpassed a personal best while vaulting a Fuhrer Fieldhouse record of 13’ 1 ¾” (No. 1 in the NAIA) at the Beile Classic. The only other Bulldog to accomplish such a feat was former teammate Allie Brooks, who still owns the school standard at 13’ 4 ¼.” Also in the women’s pole vault, senior Anna Baack (PR of 11’ 8”) and freshman Amira Cummings (11’ 2 ¼”) cleared 11 feet.
As of early Saturday evening, Loga and Williams had put themselves into the top five on the NAIA national list in the high jump. Both Loga and Williams leapt 6’ 9” as part of a high level high jump competition in Crete. Doane’s Jacob Hruska also elevated above 6’ 9.” That mark equaled the Concordia school record first reached by Dave Fiala in 1997.
For the first time this season, the Bulldogs entered into distance medley relays. As it stands right now, Concordia owns the top-rated women’s DMR in the NAIA after clocking in at 12:32.60 (converted to 12:24.63) on the Fuhrer Fieldhouse track. The relay team included freshman Rylee Haecker, junior Sarah Lewis, freshman Grace Reiman and sophomore Kylahn Heritage. Lewis blazed to her best 400 split of the season as part of the DMR. The Bulldog men’s DMR registered a time of 10:31.68 (second place) as freshman Calvin Rohde, senior Jacob Jennings, senior Christian Van Cleave and sophomore Camden Sesna paced the track.
Reigning GPAC Athlete of the Year Rachel Battershell authored a fine performance in the 600 meters, winning in a time of 1:37.10 (in her only event of the weekend). Other women’s winners on the track included Alyssa Fye in the mile (5:44.28) and 1,000 meters (3:23.13) and Heritage in the 3,000 meters (10:59.88). On the men’s side, senior Henry Reimer took first place in the 400 meters (52.72) and freshman Kadin Vrbas claimed the top spot in the 200 meters (24.16).
Beisel liked what he saw in both 3,000 meter races. Heritage held off teammate Sydney Clark (11:00.56) for first on the women’s side. Amie Martin (11:06.07) was also close behind. On the men’s side, Sesna (9:18.09), Wyatt Lehr (9:21.99) and Antonio Blaine (9:25.19) placed two through four at the meet.
Solid results came out of the throws. In the men’s weight throw, sophomore Chris Wren tossed a personal best of 58’ 2 ½” and placed fourth in a loaded field at the Beile Classic. In the women’s weight throw, Concordia performers went 1-2-4 thanks to the efforts of Morgan De Jong (56’ 10 ¾”), Sarah Ragland (54’ 4 ½”) and Olivia Buschow (51’ 8 ¼”), who each turned in season bests. The top Bulldogs in the shot put were Andy Amos (48’ 3 ¼”; fifth place) and Elle Luehr (41’ 8 ½”; third place).
The Beile Classic represented Concordia’s second meet this season that has included multi-events. Emily Loy (3,167), Amy Richert (3,118) and Kaylee Boyle (2,768) placed third, fourth and sixth, respectively, in the women’s pentathlon. In the men’s heptathlon, Jeremiah Reeser finished third (4,376). Loy and Richert currently hold down top 10 national spots in the pentathlon while Reeser can make that claim in the heptathlon.
Additional noteworthy marks of improvement came from Keri Bauer in the 800 meters (converted time of 2:23.15), Dagne’ Buck in the weight throw (53’ 5”), Mackenzie Ferrell in the weight throw (49’ 3 ¾”), Haecker in the 800 meters (converted time of 2:21.59), Alli Owings in the shot put (39’ 1 ¾”) and Samantha Thompson in the shot put (39’ 10 ¾”). Each of these marks ranked in the top 30 on the NAIA national performance lists as of Saturday evening.
Said Beisel, “I feel really good about where we are. We still have improvements to make in every area and yet we still have two meets to go and three weeks of training before the conference championships. I think we’re poised to do pretty well at GPAC.”
Beile Classic Event Winners
· Women’s Distance Medley Relay (Haecker, Lewis, Reiman, Heritage)
· Rachel Battershell (600 meters)
· Morgan De Jong (weight throw)
· Alyssa Fye (mile; 1,000 meters)
· Kylahn Heritage (3,000 meters)
· Josie Puelz (pole vault)
· Henry Reimer (400 meters)
· Kadin Vrbas (200 meters)
The final two meets prior to the 2021 GPAC indoor championships will be held inside the friendly confines of the Walz Fieldhouse. Next week’s Concordia Classic is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. CT on Friday, Feb. 5. The Bulldogs will also host the Concordia Invite on Feb. 13.