Time waits for no man – or woman.
And that is the case for the Ashland University men's (No. 3 in NCAA Division II) and women's indoor track and field teams, as the 2017-18 season is beginning to wind down. February begins for both squads with the Akron Invitational on Friday (Feb. 2) and Saturday (Feb. 3).
"Akron will be a great opportunity for some of the kids," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan. "We talked in the team meeting on Monday…we have opportunities to tell new stories. You have to go out and write the story, and I'll tell it.
"Right now, this weekend is an opportunity for some of those to break out. We're ready for some big performances."
After Akron, there are just two more weekends of competition prior to the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, Feb. 24-25 at Grand Valley State.
"This is the home stretch," Logan said. "The calendar flips, February gets real."
"We went to the well strong at Findlay, and we are going to the well strong again at GV," said Logan.
Throwers who are just over or just under the cut line for indoor nationals, March 9-10 at Pittsburg State, are juniors Jim Toth (No. 16) and Brandon Sicurella (No. 17) in the men's weight throw, junior Mackenzie Leigh (No. 13) and freshman Gianna DiPippo (No. 17) in the women's weight throw, and DiPippo (No. 19) in the women's shot put.
"They've got to take a half-step," said Logan. "A full step is a meter. Obviously, that would crush them getting in, in a good way. Over the next two weekends, Akron and GVSU…they've got to move the mark. Because then it becomes a pressure situation. All four are capable."
Freshman David Amstutz, who, along with Fairbanks, is a rarity in the program – a true freshman thrower not redshirting before beginning his competitive collegiate career - moved up to No. 23 in the nation in the men's shot put at the Findlay Classic & Elite Throws, but has to keep moving up in order to make nationals.
"It was a big jump for David, and he's responding, as well," said Logan of Amstutz, who went from 16.01 meters to 16.85 meters at Findlay. "Now, the biggest thing is the confidence, winning that open division."
One of the newcomers who has been hindered by injuries so far this season is freshman Kainnan Ramsey.
"He's going to run his first 200 this week," Logan said. "We think he can be a GLIAC scorer for us, if not a national qualifier. This is his weekend."
In addition to the action at Akron, eight distance runners will go to Hillsdale on Friday night to run the distance medley relay at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic.
"We're going to see whether we have a DMR that's worth pursuing," Logan said.