It will have been just two weeks since indoor nationals when the Ashland University men's and women's track and field teams start the 2018 outdoor season on Friday (March 23) and Saturday (March 24) at the Weems Baskin Invitational in South Carolina.
That is the nature of the beast, said Ashland head coach Jud Logan.
"We're a very young team," Logan said. "That might not be a statement that we're making a year from now, but that's a great thing. The way those young kids competed (at nationals)…it's a quick turnaround, and outdoor is a different animal.
"We're going to go down there and see where we're at, a snapshot of where we think we can be. We're expecting really good weather and mid-60s, and the kids are really excited to put their first foot forward."
One Eagle who has a history of getting out of the gate strong in the first meet of a new season is junior Myles Pringle. A 10-time All-American and three-time national champion, Pringle will compete this weekend in the 400-meter dash, 200 dash, 4x1 relay and 4x4 relay.
"There's no reason to believe he couldn't do it again," Logan said of Pringle putting up early nationals-type results. "We want to put out some good marks early."
Adding to Pringle and a deep throws group on the men's side will be sophomore Dylan Kipp in the javelin. Kipp reached 59.99 meters in the event as a freshman a season ago.
The women's side will be bolstered by the return of senior thrower Megan Tomei, who did not compete in the indoor season. She joins an indoor nationals group which included juniors Natalie Helenthal and Mackenzie Leigh, and redshirt freshman Gianna DiPippo.
"Megan's the leader of that group, whether she was competing or not," Logan said. "We're excited about what that throws group can do."
Sophomore Paula Wollenslegel will go away from multis outdoors, and concentrate on the high jump and hurdles. Logan also is looking forward to seeing who will separate themselves in the women's 4x1 relay, noting there are 5-6 sprinters in the mix.
The end of the outdoor season will be a busy one for the Eagles, and it will be so at home. The annual Ashland Alumni Open will take place on April 27-28, then Ashland will play host to the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships on May 2-4.
"We're very excited," said Logan. "Our track has proven to be one of the fastest sprinting tracks, if not in the GLIAC, certainly in the state of Ohio. We're beyond excited."