Fourteen Ashland University's track and field athletes are in Kingsville, Texas, for the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships on Thursday-Saturday (May 23-25).
While one might think the Eagles would be hard-pressed to duplicate their 2019 indoor nationals finish (men first, women 11th), the makeup of the nationals qualifiers might suggest otherwise.
Coming off the program's first Division II team national championship indoors in March, the Ashland men will have nine athletes (and one alternate) at nationals. The difference here is, compared to two months ago, the overall health of the squad is better this time around.
"For our program, we're in a little different spot, but we're in a really good spot," associate head coach Ernie Clark said of the men.
That good spot is having a six-time national champion and the No. 1 seed in the 400-meter dash in senior Myles Pringle, having one of the top hurdlers in the country in sophomore Trevor Bassitt in two events, and having a squad which exceeded almost every pre-nationals ranking outdoors a year ago in finishing second as a team.
"On a given day, you don't know how high a (junior) Nick Zak can go," Clark said. "On a good day, (sophomore) Brent Fairbanks is easily an All-American. On a good day, (junior) Alex Hill can be anywhere from first to fourth."
Both Pringle and sophomore Channing Phillips are in the open 400, Pringle is going in the open 200, Bassitt is in both the 110 and 400 hurdles, and the 4x400 relay consists of Pringle, Bassitt, Phillips and one of two freshmen, Tim Rumas or Keshun Jones. Joining Hill, Zak and Fairbanks in the hammer throw is senior Jim Toth, and Hill also is in the discus throw.
Pringle will compete in the high jump, and junior Jake Glass will be in the shot put.
"With the Jim Toths of the world, you know he is going to go there and lay it all on the line," Clark said. "Jake Glass, I'm anxious to watch, because he's had some up and down moments. I can envision him kind of going off, just because he's been down. He's on his way up."
Ashland is seeking the first Division II men's dual team national championships in the same year since Saint Augustine's in 2014.
On the women's side, while Ashland has the same number (and same names) of competitors as indoor nationals, the situation isn't exactly the same. Junior Ellie Jindra is back in the high jump, and seniors Mackenzie Leigh and Natalie Helenthal will compete in the hammer, as they did in the weight indoors.
This weekend, the three-event X factor will be redshirt freshman Lindsay Baker, who is the top-ranked women's shot putter in the country, and also will compete in the hammer and the discus.
"I think what is different about us is, we have a lot of people in our program, in this case Lindsay Baker, who are going in three (events)," Clark said. "Depending on how she performs, she has a legitimate shot at scoring a lot of points all by herself. She's shown that she can perform well in these situations."
ASHLAND UNIVERSITY 2019 NCAA DIVISION II OUTDOOR NATIONALS SCHEDULE
Thursday, May 23
- 12:30 p.m. Central/1:30 p.m. Eastern – women's hammer throw (Leigh No. 2 seed, Helenthal No. 5 seed, Baker No. 8 seed)
- 3:30 p.m. Central/4:30 p.m. Eastern – men's hammer throw (Hill No. 4 seed, Zak No. 9 seed, Fairbanks No. 11 seed, Toth No. 21 seed)
- 6:40 p.m. Central/7:40 p.m. Eastern – men's 400 dash prelims (Pringle No. 1 seed, Phillips No. 16 seed)
- 8:40 p.m. Central/9:40 p.m. Eastern – men's 400 hurdles prelims (Bassitt No. 2 seed)
Friday, May 24
- 1:30 p.m. Central/2:30 p.m. Eastern – women's discus throw (Baker No. 15 seed)
- 4:30 p.m. Central/5:30 p.m. Eastern – men's discus throw (Hill No. 16 seed)
- 5:05 p.m. Central/6:05 p.m. Eastern – women's high jump (Jindra No. 11 seed)
- 5:50 p.m. Central/6:50 p.m. Eastern – men's 200 dash prelims (Pringle No. 15 seed)
- 6:55 p.m. Central/7:55 p.m. Eastern – men's 110 hurdles prelims (Bassitt No. 3 seed)
- 8:10 p.m. Central/9:10 p.m. Eastern – men's 4x400 relay prelims (No. 4 seed)
Saturday, May 25
- 1:15 p.m. Central/2:15 p.m. Eastern – women's shot put (Baker No. 1 seed)
- 5:05 p.m. Central/6:05 p.m. Eastern – men's shot put (Glass No. 18 seed)
- 5:30 p.m. Central/6:30 p.m. Eastern – men's high jump (Pringle No. 10 seed)
- 6:05 p.m. Central/7:05 p.m. Eastern – men's 110 hurdles finals (Bassitt, if qualify)
- 6:25 p.m. Central/7:25 p.m. Eastern – men's 400 dash finals (Pringle and Phillips, if qualify)
- 7:30 p.m. Central/8:30 p.m. Eastern – men's 400 hurdles finals (Bassitt, if qualify)
- 7:55 p.m. Central/8:55 p.m. Eastern – men's 200 dash finals (Pringle, if qualify)
- 9:05 p.m. Central/10:05 p.m. Eastern – men's 4x400 relay finals (if qualify)