Sunny skies and sunny dispositions. That pretty much describes the scene of Saturday's (Apr. 26) Ashland Alumni Open.
Who could frown on this day? Both AU track and field teams were at home and the weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky and enough of a breeze to keep the competitors comfortable. Both AU teams are nationally ranked and this was the lone opportunity for the hometown fan base to watch the Eagles.
Right before the start of the running events, the Eagles honored Dave Smalley, the long-time assistant coach who is retiring after this season. Smalley is one of the most recognized names in track and field in Ohio. He's in the Ashland County Hall of Fames and the Ohio Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame. He's coached over 50 All-Americans at AU. He's an Ashland College graduate and a former track and field coach at Ashland High School.
A large number of former AU track and field performers were back on Saturday to honor and thank Smalley. The ceremony was brief but heartfelt and it was the perfect start to the day.
Once the competition started, the Eagles did just fine. Their list of winners was long. This was the final meet for AU before next week's GLIAC Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
Kylee Bernthisel finished first in the 3,000 steeplechase (11:30.97).
Freeman had an impressive day. He also won the 100 (10.96) and was part of the 4X4 that finished first in 3:18.24. The other three members of that relay were Waquiem Comar, Benjamin Herbert and Drew Windle.
Owens had a big day for himself too. He won the 110 hurdles in a facility record time of 13.98.
Cook finished first in the 400 (47.66).
Isaac Potes led the field in the 5,000 (15:11.15).
This two-day invitational has always attracted a deep and talented field of thrower and this year's entry list was no different.
The men's Elite hammer, which took place on Friday, included two former Olympians - A.G. Kruger and Kibwe Johnson. Kruger finished first (246-3) and Johnson was second (233-11). Johnson is a former AU thrower. Another former Eagle - Ryan Loughney - was third (226-6).
In the men's shot put another former Eagle, Kurt Roberts, drew a large crowd on Saturday morning when he threw. Roberts finished first with a mark of 68-7.50. Donald Duke was second (59-5).
AU's Kyle Steinhauser was second in the Elite discus (176-10).