James Taylor used to sing that, "In his mind he was going to Carolina."
Friday (Mar. 14) on the opening day of the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Ashland University Eagles put together a day that could blow the minds of a lot of people. This is not a dream either, although this could be a dream season if Saturday turns out well for the Eagles.
Jessica Bridenthal won a national championship in the weight throw and the men's distance relay claimed a national title as well. The AU men are sitting in second place and the AU women are fourth. The men were the national runner-up indoors and outdoors a year ago.
Bridenthal won the competition with a throw of 64-8. She has been the pace setter in the event all year. She headed south with automatic qualifying marks in the weight throw and the shot. She was healthy and nerves were not a problem, Bridenthal has been on this stage before. She performed at the expected level and because she did, the Eagles have another national championship thrower.
The women also received an eighth place finish from Jennifer Bjelac in the long jump. She secured that spot with a mark of 18-7.25.
The men's distance relay came home in 9:49.10. That quartet consisted of Joshua Davis, Jacob Cook, Drew Windle and Brian Baum. Adams State was second in 9:50.23. Ashland entered the weekend seeded third (9:55.79) on the performance list.
In the men's weight throw, Ashland throwers took three of the top eight spots. Zac Ball was the national runner-up. His best effort was 70-8.5. Findlay's Justin Welch led the pack at 73-0.75.
Jared Conklin finished fifth (63-3.5) and James Clay Harris was eighth (61-10.75). Both of those throwers earned raves from head coach Jud Logan last week for the way they've matured in the past year.
In the prelims of the mile, Baum was first (4:10.73) and Nick Hall was third (4:10.85). The Eagles also figure to receive points in the 800 where Windle, the defending national champion, will run.
The AU men are second with 23 points. Adams State is first with 29 points and Grand Valley State is third with 17.5 points.
The Ashland wome have 11 points and are in fourth place. Grand Valley State is first with 25 points, followed by Adams State (20) and Lincoln (14).
The national championship meet will conclude on Saturday.