Exactly one week after Independence Day, Ashland University redshirt freshman Lindsay Baker will represent the United States at the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
On July 11, Baker will compete in the women's shot put for Team USA. Qualifications are at 4:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, with the finals slated for 10:35 p.m.
She is the first Eagle track and field athlete to compete at junior worlds.
"It's a new experience I'm going to be going into," Baker said. "I know that I'm not going to be used to the different atmosphere over there, but I know that I'm ready because coach (Jud Logan) is going to have me ready.
"Coach, he's a great mentor, coach, father figure. He's all of the above."
Baker qualified for junior worlds thanks to a second-place finish in the women's shot put (four kilograms) in June at the 2018 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, Ind., with a top heave of 16.56 meters/54-feet-4.
"Going into juniors, I was ranked second," Baker noted, "so I knew that I had a really good chance of doing well. I went in there not worrying what other people were throwing."
As an unattached athlete and a redshirt during the 2017-18 season, Baker competed in several events, both indoors and outdoors. Her top marks included 17.11 meters/56-feet-1¾ in the outdoor shot put, 47.85 meters/157-feet-0 in the discus throw, 50.95 meters/167-feet-2 in the hammer throw, 16.14 meters/52-feet-11½ in the indoor shot put, and 15.95 meters/52-feet-4 in the weight throw.
Baker's best mark in the outdoor shot put not only was 1.43 meters better than the 2018 NCAA Division II automatic qualifying standard (15.68 meters), but that mark would have won the D-II outdoor national title (winning mark was 16.52 meters). It also is the fourth-best U-20 women's outdoor shot put distance in the world so far in 2018.
"There was no way of knowing, when we recruited her, that this is what we had," said Logan. "We knew we had a great personality, someone who was willing to work hard. But no one can predict and say…she's No. 4 in the world? How did that happen? It happened the very same way it happened for Adriane (Blewitt) and Jackie (Jeschelnig) – belief, total belief in the system.
"So when I tell her that something's going to happen, not only has she believed it, she's taken what's the most necessary component, she's gone and made it happen. But it starts with a belief, and that's where she's special."
As for if there was a thought of changing minds and taking the redshirt off, for Logan, there certainly wasn't.
"Still 100-percent sure it was the right thing to do," Logan said. "The reason is, she has such lofty goals, not only in the shot put, but in the discus, and in the hammer, and in the weight. She obviously has a chance to be very special in this program."
Baker said, "There was always that little feeling of what if. I know that this coming four years, I will be doing better than I would have if I wouldn't have redshirted."
"The first meet's going to be a little nerve-racking, just because I'm going to be wearing the (Ashland) jersey," Baker said of the upcoming indoor season in the winter of 2018-19. "I know that coach is going to have us ready to compete."
Logan said, "The silo grain is full, and now it's time to take it to market and sell everything. That's what the junior worlds are. And then, next fall, we're going to start re-planting the fields, and hope we have a bumper crop like we did this year."