This week, Ashland University sophomore Alex Hill is making the near-500-mile journey from campus to the 2018 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships, Thursday-Saturday (May 24-26) in Charlotte, N.C.
Hill's throws, of course, will be measured in meters – and centimeters, as was the case at 2018 indoor nationals. In the men's weight throw at Pittsburg State (Kan.), Hill finished second nationally at 20.98 meters/68-feet-10 – a mere centimeter behind Findlay's Austin Combs.
Despite that razor-thin finish, and because this will be Hill's fourth trip to nationals in two years, he sees this week as just another meet.
"I don't let the national meet really get into my head," Hill said. "I know how to compete at them. Past situations, I've learned from them. My career has led me to be comfortable in any situation.
"I just completed one of my goals coming into this year. Last year, I had to go to last-chance meets just to get to nationals. This year, I didn't have to go to them, and I made it in both events, so that's just huge."
Going into outdoor nationals, Hill is the only Division II men's thrower to rank in the top seven in the nation in both the hammer throw (third, 64.35 meters/211-feet-1) and the discus throw (seventh, 54.49 meters/178-feet-9). He won a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference outdoor title in early May at home in the discus, coming off a GLIAC indoor title in February in the weight throw.
That wasn't a run-of-the-mill conference weight throw championship, however. His winning effort of 22.49 meters/73-feet-9½ made Hill the third-best men's weight thrower in D-II history – trailing only former Eagles Kibwe Johnson (who has the top seven marks in D-II history) and Ryan Loughney.
"When I came in, I wanted to break our school record in the weight," Hill said. "I was really happy with this year, and having that goal kind of kept my focus throughout the whole season."
Johnson's D-II-record weight throw is 25.08 meters/82-feet-3½. Hill has two indoor seasons left – so is catching Johnson a realistic possibility?
"Other coaches are sending me text messages like, 'Kibwe's record???,'" Logan said. "Whether he would do that or not, this is a big year coming up in his junior year. But we've got to finish this journey we're on right now."
Marks like the aforementioned are impressive for an athlete who could have joined another tradition-rich Ohio collegiate program.
"I was looking at other schools in the conference. And even before I was thinking of going into track, I was going to play football, and one of the schools I was going to play for was Mount Union," the nearby Mansfield, Ohio, native said.
Said Logan, "It was one of those situations where his coach was a former athlete of mine, Mike Anderson. "He wasn't a kid who went and blew up the state meet. I saw something on video…and then I checked his grades out, and I said I need to have this kid in my program."
Hill said he has learned from both Logan and past national-champion teammates, like Jordan Crayon.
"He kind of helped me out in two different aspects," Hill said. "The first, athletically. He always had the big ambitions of going to the Olympics and chasing really big goals, so that's what I started doing for myself.
"Another aspect was religiously. He had our track team Bible study, and he was a huddle leader at FCA. I became a part of it, and then he ended up mentoring me so that I became the huddle leader for the team."
As for the here and now, Hill will look to help get the Ashland men off to a good start in the hammer on Thursday at noon, then come back for the discus on Friday at 4 p.m. Hill explained how he has separated each event for himself.
"Hammer, I've really condensed my throw," he said, becoming a three-turner from a four-turner. "The discus and hammer have never really affected each other for me. Technique is completely different."
Logan has said he wants a team national championship before he retires. The men's team has eight competitors at nationals, so it that achievable by Saturday night?
"I think if everyone plays their role and does what they know they can do, all the work that we've put in…yeah, I think we have a shot," said Hill.