MOORHEAD, Minn. (5/14/20)---Head coach Garrick Larson announced the award winners for the 2020 Cobber men's track and field season. In spite of the shortened season, Concordia had a spotlight performance at the MIAC Indoor Championship Meet where they finished second. The second-place finish was the highest for a Cobber team at a conference indoor meet since 2000 and earned Larson MIAC Coach of the Year honors.
"It was a tough way to end the year, especially since we had great energy and momentum after the indoor season," said Larson. "In spite of the circumstances we had tremendous performances and the awards highlight some of the outstanding individuals and their accomplishments."
Here are the 2020 Cobber men's track and field award winners with a description of the award, and the winner, from Larson.
Most Valuable Athlete: Matt Bye (Sr, Moorhead HS, MN). Matt Bye, '20 (Moorhead, MN) qualified for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Heptathlon Championships, making his fourth straight NCAA Indoor & Outdoor appearance. At the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Decathlon Bye earned his first NCAA All-American award when he finished eighth in the decathlon. Bye dominated the 2020 MIAC Indoor Heptathlon, winning his third straight MIAC title. Unfortunately, the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship was cancelled the night before it was about to start when Bye was already in North Carolina doing final preparations for the Heptathlon. Bye is the #2 Cobber All-Time Indoor Heptathlete and Outdoor Decathlete. Bye was a 4-year Cobber letter winner in both Track & Field and Football. Bye's most memorable football moment was catching the overtime game-winning pass versus #4 St. John's. Bye's combined talents as a two-sport athlete helped him earn the Male Athlete of the Year at the 2020 Golden Cobbs.
Most Valuable Track Athlete: Jesse Middendorf (So, Melrose HS, MN). Jesse Middendorf, '22 (Melrose, MN) was one of the most dominate athletes from any team at the 2020 MIAC Indoor Championship winning 3 events. On Friday of the 2020 MIAC Indoor Championship, Middendorf cruised through the 800 Meters to make the win, the first MIAC title of his young career, look easy. The next day, Middendorf dominated the 600 Meter MIAC field from wire to wire to destroy the school record by more than a second (1:20.41). Later that same day at the MIAC, Middendorf anchored the 4x400 Meter Relay and passed #3 Bethel in the final lap to secure the event victory and leapfrog Concordia into the a second-place MIAC team finish, the highest team finish since 2000. In the final week of the 2020 indoor regular season, Middendorf eclipsed the 800 Meter Cobber Indoor School Record by 0.02 sec at 1:53.65 to rank 16th in NCAA Division III and qualify for the NCAA Indoor National Championship, his first national trip. Sadly, the NCAA Indoor Championship was cancelled the night before the preliminary rounds. During the 2020 indoor track and field season, Middendorf not only set Cobber school records in the 600 Meter and 800 Meter, but added a third school record as a member of the 4x400 Meter Relay at 3:20.47, eclipsing the old school record by more nearly 3.0 seconds.
Most Valuable Field Athlete: Jake Steiner (Jr, Circle Pines, MN/Centennial HS). Jake Steiner has become one of the top throwers in the MIAC, one of the toughest throws conferences in the entire nation. In the Shot Put, Steiner was consistently around 50' all season and earned his first All-Conference award by finishing third at the 2020 MIAC Indoor Championship. Steiner also threw near his 35# Weight Throw personal best all season long and finished eighth in the MIAC Indoor Championship. Six MIAC 35-lb weight thowers in the MIAC were ranked in the top 50 on the national list. Steiner finished his junior campaign in the Top 10 on both Cobber All-Time throws lists, #3 in the Shot Put and #5 in the 35-lb weight throw.
Most Improved: Ben Schelske, (Jr, Chaska HS, MN). Ben Schelske was one of the key factors in the shocking second-place team finish at the 2020 MIAC Indoor Championship. Schelske was seeded for a mere two points in the meet, but came away with 6 critical team points. At the MIAC Championship, Schelske set lifetime bests in both the Shot Put (47-3.75 – fifth) and the Weight Throw (52-3.75 – seventh). With Schelske's big-time MIAC throws, he now sits high up on both Cobber All-Time lists, #16 in the Shot Put and #4 in the 35-lb weight throw.
Matt Bye (Sr, Moorhead HS, MN) Matt Bye has been a leader on the football and track & field teams all four years at Concordia. Bye is a Track & Field captain and positive force for both the men's and women's track & field teams. Matt Bye's is a consummate hard-worker and a diligent student of both the sport and in the classroom. Bye is well-known among athletes from all teams as he commonly stops to chat with athletes from many different teams and is a Cobber community builder.
Olsen Pancoast (Sr, Becker HS, MN) Olsen Pancoast was selected as a captain for the Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Pancoast, a constant optimist, always carries a positive vibe at practice and meets frequently offering high five's for teammates and coaches. Always vested in the team outcome, Pancoast was a thoughtful includer of every member of the team always bringing everyone into the fold.