Thirty-plus Ashland University men's and women's indoor track and field athletes will compete on Friday (Feb. 9) at the Grand Valley State Big Meet.
The goal is to get ready for what is to come just 15 days later – the start of the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, also in Allendale, Mich.
"The kids that we're taking to Grand Valley are the kids who have either been on the provisional list, or have shown that they are right at that area where they could potentially score for us in conference," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan. "There's areas where we're taking no one, because they have very high standards just to get in the meet.
"We're going strong in the throws. Ernie (Clark, assistant coach) has a rather large group going. Myles (Pringle) is going to run the 200, and potentially a relay, but we're not trying to overwork the relay. We're happy with where they're at right now."
The Eagle men's 4x400-meter relay is ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division II at 3:13.13, but there have been different makeups within that relay throughout the campaign.
Ashland's men's (No. 4 in D-II) and women's weekend will consist of both the GVSU Big Meet on Friday and the Kent State Qualifier on Saturday (Feb. 10).
"These are still some kids who can be pennies for us moving forward at the conference meet," Logan said of the competitors at Kent State, "and another opportunity for us to get better."
Freshman Kainnan Ramsey had been hampered by injury prior to last weekend's Akron Invitational, but Ramsey won the men's 200 dash Blue division in 21.85 seconds – missing a provisional time by 0.08 seconds.
"He was a kid that we thought early on had NCAA potential," said Logan. "We feel like Grand Valley is a slightly faster track than Akron. Kainnan's had a great week of practice again. He's one of the kids I would look to flash this week."
Senior Elijah Talk is ranked No. 10 in the country in the shot put (17.69 meters/58-feet-0½), and sophomore Jake Glass is looking to get into nationals contention. Glass is No. 22 in D-II at 17.03 meters/55-feet-10½.
"Jake Glass is somebody that can not only help us, but we think if we can get him in the (national) meet, we can peak him right and get him towards that All-American," said Logan.
On the women's side, Logan is looking to freshmen Maddi Yingst and Madeline Kreller and sophomores Cassidy Newburg and Gariana Bercheni to make significant jumps. Newburg has the team's top times in the 60 (7.84 seconds), 200 (25.42) and 500 (1:19.54) so far this season, and Yingst is the team's best 300 (41.87 seconds) and 400 (58.01) performer in 2017-18.
"I just sat and watched how that team works," said Logan. "I see a focus in some of those girls that they're starting to go down the rabbit hole, buying all in. Once they do that with coach Clark's system…they're talented enough to be difference-makers."