photo by Elisha Meyer
The soccer and baseball conference championship plaques sit on display inside the Walz Human Performance Complex.
By Elisha Meyer
The end of the school year in May was not the end of play for some Concordia sports teams. Here’s a rundown of what’s been happening.
Concordia’s baseball program, after finishing the season with a record of 34-9 and tying for first in the Great Plains Athletics Conference standings, proceeded to go 3-0 in GPAC tournament play to advance to the conference championship game against Doane University on May 11. The Tigers went up 2-0 in the first three innings but would never score again. The Bulldogs put up seven unanswered runs, including a clutch two-run homer by infielder Joey Grabanski, to hand the Bulldogs its first GPAC postseason conference championship in program history.
The Bulldogs would continue in the postseason and beat Bellevue University 7-5 on May 20 in Omaha to advance to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, for the first time. Two quick losses on the national stage ended the Bulldogs’ season, but it has put Concordia baseball on the map, according to coach Ryan Dupic.
“Making the World Series was a big thing for us,” Dupic said. “It kind of puts your name out there. That’s been a big deal to kind of get your foot in the door.”
Achieving similar success was Concordia’s women’s soccer team, which also captured a GPAC title in the championship game against the University of Jamestown on April 9. The 2-1 win gave the Bulldogs their third conference championship in program history.
The win also meant an appearance in the NAIA Opening Rounds, but the season came to an unfortunate end. Due to COVID-19 issues, the team was pulled from the competition on April 14, just one day before its opening round match.
Expectations are for the Bulldogs to succeed once again, especially in conference play. The conference preseason poll has the Bulldogs ranked No. 2, seven points behind No. 1 seed Briar Cliff University. The season for Concordia will start on Aug. 28 at Bulldog Stadium vs. Tabor College. Gametime is set for 1 p.m.
Volleyball ultimately would not capture a GPAC title after losing in the semifinals to Northwestern College 3-1 in Orange City, Iowa, but three consecutive playoff wins at the national level would land the team in the NAIA quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
The Bulldogs would ultimately lose to another conference opponent, in Dordt University, leaving even more to prove in the upcoming season this fall.
Coach Ben Boldt said, “This is one of the best teams that we’ve ever had. To say where we’re at as a program, it’s a nationally relevant program.”
The Bulldogs have a tough conference to fight in once again, but they have earned the respect of the pollsters. Boldt’s team will enter the 2021 fall season ranked No. 7 in the country and No. 4 in the tightly contested GPAC.
Concordia’s season will start on Aug. 25 at home vs. Mount Marty University at 7:30 p.m.
Track & Field
The women’s Track & Field program captured another GPAC championship in outdoor competition on May 1 in Seward, along with its winter indoor championship. The women also won third place in outdoor competition at the national championships in Yankton, South Dakota. The third-place finish marked the best performance since the women won the 2016 NAIA Outdoor National Championship.
The men’s team finished in fourth place in the GPAC outdoor championships on May 1. While they only finished 28th nationally, the 10 team points scored came as the result of a national championship for hammer thrower Jacob Cornilio.
Concordia’s football team did not compete in the spring of 2021, but will be entering the upcoming season with a No. 5 ranking in the GPAC conference. The Bulldogs started their season last year with a 4-0 record, but lost in a critical game to Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Concordia would not win another game that season, losing its final three contests.
The Bulldogs will face a big test to start the season as they travel to Morningside College on Sept. 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.