Friday's (Jan. 18) Youngstown State College Invitational will provide Ashland University's men's and women's indoor track and field teams with another opportunity to improve team and individual nationals standings.
The Eagle men and women are ranked No. 4 and 7, respectively, by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), prior to the first regular-season rankings to be released on Tuesday (Jan. 22). Ashland's men and women already have combined for six automatic and 22 provisional marks for 2019 NCAA Division II nationals, March 8-9 at Pittsburg State (Kan.).
Ashland head coach Jud Logan explained how the coming weeks will break down for the Eagle men and women.
"The focus shifts these next two weeks," he said. "As a throws crew, we'll still a little beat down from winter-break training, but we're starting to come out of it. People are coming out at different levels. As a staff, what we're trying to do, before we hit that February block of meets, we're trying to give everybody an opportunity over the next two weeks to do something significant."
One of the marks from last week's Findlay Open which may get an Eagle to indoor nationals is that of junior high jumper Ellie Jindra, who moved to No. 8 in the nation at 1.71 meters/5-feet-7¼. That mark was good enough to make D-II indoor nationals a season ago.
"That bodes well for her, when we take a little bit of her stress load off and hopefully peak her and she's got another jump in her that will allow her to get to that All-American bar," said Logan.
Also on the women's side is a throws group which more than likely have two shot putters (freshman Lindsay Baker and sophomore Gianna DiPippo) and two weight throwers (seniors Natalie Helenthal and Mackenzie Leigh) set for nationals, Baker having autoed in the shot. But there is more work to do in the weight, as Baker is No. 17 in the country, fellow redshirt freshman Carrol Pauley is No. 19, DiPippo is No. 20 and redshirt freshman Taylor Kroll is No. 25.
"Not all of them have thrown the weight in every meet," Logan noted. "I'm looking for those weight marks…shot put from (redshirt freshman) Lizzie Weimer, to come up in February. In terms of where I think they'll be by the time the list comes out, we're going to need all of February."
The men received two new provisional marks last week at Findlay in the sprints – senior Myles Pringle in the 60-meter dash (6.87 seconds) and sophomore Channing Phillips in the 200 dash (21.59 seconds).
"Ernie's done a great job of having his kids run fast at the right time," Logan said of associate head coach Ernie Clark. "Most of the people that you see, other than the top five or six guys in the country, the ones that punch their ticket is at the conference meet. Ernie believes he's got a bunch of guys that can show up on that provo list in the 200 and the 400."
Junior Jake Glass will be looking to join his fellow men's shot putters and weight throwers as definite indoor nationals competitors. He is No. 14 in D-II in the weight, and No. 23 in the shot coming into Youngstown.
"We're going to go strong in the shot put only the next two weeks with Jake," Logan noted. "That's where he can help us. That's where we need the help. We need to get his shot put going."
For both the AU men and women, having a distance runner or two turn in a provisional mark and potentially make nationals would be a big boost to the team's chances at Pittsburg State.
"I think it's going to be a DMR on the men's side, I think it's going to be (senior) Tiffany Pryce and (freshman) Destini Oler in the 800 on the women's side," Logan said. "Those are our two best opportunities. Destini was really good out of high school. Tiffany wasn't here first semester, but she came back and ran 2:18 in her first meet, showing that she is fit."