Feeling under the weather, you say? Ain’t nobody got time for that – especially not on the day of the GPAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“She sat right in back of me on the team bus going to the meet. I said, ‘Oh golly, sounds like Kim’s sick.’ And she was,” said head coach Kregg Einspahr of his standout runner Kim Wood. “She was hacking left and right behind me. I was thinking, ‘we don’t need this today.’
Several hours later Wood sat down for a bite to eat after blazing to four GPAC titles on the track, three of which came in meet record times. In a short eight-second clip tweeted by former teammate Erika Schroeder, Wood was asked, “Do you get tired?” In replying the way only she can, Wood retorted, “Sometimes when I’m sleeping I get tired.”
It was a light moment, one laced with the humility and light-hearted nature that characterize Wood. She draws people in her with her inviting personality and with her performances on the track that will soon become the stuff of legend. By totaling 41 points and speeding to four conference titles in less than three hours on Feb. 20, the native of Greeley, Neb., locked up GPAC Female Athlete of the Meet honors and forever a residence in Bulldog folklore.
Said a frog-throated Wood after the meet, “It was a really crazy day. I think a lot of it was just being mentally strong. Before every race I just told myself, ‘I’m strong. I can do it.’ It was about convincing myself I wasn’t tired.”
But of course she was tired, under the weather and perhaps not even sure how to put her own performance into proper perspective. Let’s leave that to the head coach of more than 23 years.
“She came out and put on quite a show,” Einspahr said. “The records she broke – you know the old cliché – she made it look easy. When I look at the records she broke and who held those, every one of those individuals were great runners and great competitors in the GPAC and she just blew those records away.”
And on it goes.
Einspahr continued, “I don’t think that’s ever been attempted in the old NIAC or the GPAC. I’m quite certain no one ever won all four races. That’s four races in a span of under three hours. That is just an unbelievable accomplishment for her. That will stand for a long, long time and be remembered by a lot of people. I know there were a lot of coaches that were pretty amazed by that. First I think they were surprised that she was entered in four events so close together like that. Then the way that she dominated those events was quite remarkable.”
Wood’s day started out with the one-mile race at 3:30 p.m. inside the Devaney Center in Lincoln. Wood would not have the benefit of loafing it to a first-place time while up against another mega star in Doane’s Marissa DeWispelare, who pushed the pace right from the opening gun. Wood held her off by nearly two seconds for win No. 1 and her first meet record of the day.
Wood had about an hour before returning to the track for the 600 meter run. Seeded No. 1 by more than three seconds, Wood broke her own program record as well as the meet record in taking first by a fairly comfortable margin. Fortunately she was out in front of an entanglement that resulted in two runners falling to the floor. Crisis averted. Chalk up win No. 2.
Just over an hour later came the 800 meter race. Another GPAC record was probably out of the question with her final individual event scheduled for thirty minutes later. As Einspahr called it, Wood ran a “tactical race,” and recovered after nearly being tripped up. This time Wood won by less than a second and in roughly seven seconds slower than her seeded time. No matter. Win No. 3.
One more to go and Wood would have accomplished the ludicrous, the are-you-for-real-right-now sort of moment that makes sports so captivating. Though she still had the 4x400 meter race on her horizon, Wood was ready to give everything she had left. Using her laser-like focus and unflappable mental game, she did the unthinkable and broke a third GPAC meet record, this time outkicking another worthy competitor from Doane.
Wood had suddenly entered a new realm, one fit for legends only. She answered any questions about her ability to complete a grueling quadruple in the affirmative. Did she have any reservations about the workload? “No,” Einspahr replied without hesitation.
A little sniffle failed to stop the amazing Kim Wood.
As part of a theme of incredible individual efforts by Bulldog athletes, Concordia also broke two meet records in the throws thanks to the efforts of Zach Lurz (59’ 3 ½”) in the shot put and Kali Robb (62’ 1 ¾”) in the weight throw (now the school record). Assistant coach Ed McLaughlin’s crew swept all four men’s and women’s GPAC throwing titles while dominating the finals of the conference championships.
“We just had a tremendous meet in the throws,” Einspahr said. “What depth that we have. Coach McLaughlin has done a great job developing that group. I can’t give them enough credit. Those are some outstanding marks.”
Lurz and Robb were joined by Cody Boellstorff (weight throw) and Stephanie Coley (shot put) as GPAC titlists. Boellstorff pushed his NAIA-leading and school record weight throw mark to 68’ 10 ½”, which qualifies him for the USATF Indoor Track & Field National Championships set for March 11-12. Boellstorff (weight throw), Coley (weight throw) and Lurz (shot put) each own one NAIA top-ranked mark heading into the national championships next week.
Overwhelming was the number of total all-conference placements recorded by McLaughlin’s group. They took 18 of 32 total all-conference positions (top eight in each event) in the throws. Below is a breakdown of those all-conference placements. The Bulldog men were particularly dominant, garnering 11 of 16 all-conference throwing awards.
Concordia all-conference throwing placements
Men’s shot put: 1-2-5-7-8
Men’s weight throw: 1-2-4-5-6-8
Women’s shot put: 1-3-4
Women’s weight throw: 1-3-5-6