The calendar has turned to April, and it is full speed ahead for Ashland University's outdoor track and field teams.
Ashland's women, ranked No. 16 in NCAA Division II, and men, ranked No. 21, will compete at the Northeast Ohio Quad on Friday and Saturday (April 5-6). The running and jumping events will be at Youngstown State University on Friday, and the throwing events will be at the University of Akron on Saturday.
This is the start of a five-week stretch in which the Eagles will compete in the Quad, the Tennessee Relays (April 11-13)/Walsh Invitational (April 13), the 10th Ashland Alumni Open (April 19-20), the Jesse Owens Relays at The Ohio State University (April 26-27), and the 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships at Grand Valley State (May 1-3).
The latest provisional mark for 2019 NCAA Division II outdoor nationals (May 23-25 in Kingsville, Texas) was earned by redshirt freshman Carrol Pauley in the women's hammer throw at the Wooster Invitational. Pauley sits at No. 19 in the country in the event at 51.96 meters/170-feet-6.
"And (sophomore) Gianna DiPippo was 80 centimeters away from provo, as well," noted Ashland head coach Jud Logan. "So it's important from a conference standpoint, that you get three in every event, unless you have a four or a five (with an NCAA provisional mark).
"We have Mackenzie, Natalie, Lindsay, now Carrol," Logan continued, referencing seniors Mackenzie Leigh and Natalie Helenthal, and redshirt freshman Lindsay Baker. "If we get Gianna, we could take five to conference. That's coming. Carrol, that was a good moment for her, because she threw really well, lifetime best, provo, and she did it in 48-degree weather and rain."
Baker is ranked No. 8 in the country in the women's shot put – something which would sit well with most redshirt freshmen, but…
"I know she's not happy that she's not No. 1 in the country in the shot put. It drives her crazy," Logan said. "So I think in the next two weeks between Akron and Tennessee, I think she's really intent on reclaiming that No. 1 position."
Two potential breakout AU women's athletes this week are junior Gariana Bercheni, who is No. 31 in the nation in the 100-meter hurdles (14.53 seconds) going into the weekend, and senior Samantha Duale.
"She (Bercheni) runs way better on 400-meter tracks than she does on 200- and 300-meter tracks," Logan said. "It gives her a chance to just unwind. As close as Sammi was in the 60 indoors, she missed by one spot, so hopefully she can get that 100-meter for her, Gari in the 2, and Ernie (associate head coach Ernie Clark) feels like if they can get perfect sticks, they've got an outside shot at a 4x1.
"It's important for the confidence, it's important for recruiting, it's important that we travel more numbers on the women's side (to nationals)."
On the men's side, senior Myles Pringle is slated to make his 2019 outdoor debut on Saturday at Arizona State's 40th Sun Angel Classic.
"He is really ready to go," said Logan. "The Wooster meet, he was going to do something if the weather was good."
Sophomore Trevor Bassitt also would have made his season debut last week at Wooster, but rain pushed that back to this weekend at YSU.
"Trevor is on fire right now," Logan said. "He's back, he's healthy."
"I think our best chance is the 800, and then, potentially, Ian in the 1,500," said Logan. "It's just who's going to have that breakout season. Both of them started out great."