The eighth Ashland Alumni Open, Friday (April 28) and Saturday (April 29) at the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex, is the annual opportunity for Ashland University's track and field program to showcase itself in front of the home fans.
This year's edition, however, has some added star power.
"We just competed this weekend at the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus, and Ohio State and Kent State and Akron were all scheduled to go to the Drake Relays," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan. "Taking a look at our throwers, knowing that they didn't have to travel, all three universities have pulled out of one of the most prestigious meets in the country, and are coming to Ashland."
Ashland's men and women have plenty to brag about in their own right. The Eagle men are ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division II, and the two teams have combined for four automatic and 28 provisional marks for 2017 nationals, May 25-27 in Bradenton, Fla.
The Ashland men boast the country's top three hammer throwers (junior Daniel Roberts, 68.95 meters/226-feet-2; senior Jordan Crayon, 68.75 meters/225-feet-7 and senior Bryn Campbell, 65.38 meters/214-feet-6), D-II's top mark in the 400-meter dash (sophomore Myles Pringle, 45.99 seconds) and the No. 2 shot putter in the country (junior Elijah Talk, 18.97 meters/62-feet-3).
Roberts (No. 7) and Crayon (No. 9) have joined Kibwe Johnson (No. 1), Ryan Loughney (No. 4) and Garrett Grey (No. 5) as Eagles on the all-time D-II outdoor men's hammer throwers list. Logan is expecting another current Eagle to get there soon.
"I think that Bryn Campbell is very, very ready to join that list," he said. "His training has actually been going better than Jordan and Danny. When Bryn relaxes and just understands how good he really is, and what Bryn does is enough, he's going to join that list."
"Both of them, didn't know how they were going to react when they heard that (senior) Megan (Tomei) was going to be out for the entire spring season with an injury," said Logan. "But they have stepped up. They're so close in their performances. They both want to get over that magic 57-meter mark."
It is the Alumni Open, so some of the familiar names returning to campus include Zac Ball (Northwood assistant coach), Jeff Jakmides (Walsh assistant coach) and Kurt Roberts, who is slated to compete in the shot put.
"The shot put may steal the spotlight from the hammer throw this year," Logan said, noting Ohio State's Nick Demaline, ranked No. 9 in NCAA Division I at 19.62 meters/64-feet-4½, is one of the competitors. "The men's shot could really, really be interesting. We're sure the hammer will be great, but more importantly, from a track standpoint, our track is very fast. It has shown to be one of the faster tracks in the state of Ohio.
"We've got to start to take a look at Myles Pringle in the 200, we've got to look at our 4x1, who is currently ranked 11, making another drop. Probably the most pleasant surprise going into this meet has been (sophomore sprinter) Sammy Duale, but even more so, (sophomore sprinter) Brandon Wilson. He has looked absolutely fantastic, and is really coming."
"This could be a big weekend for them, as well," he said.
Friday's action will be the hammer throw in four divisions, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday's competition begins at 10 a.m. with field events and 12:15 p.m. with running events.
The Alumni Open is the Eagles' final action prior to the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, May 3-5 at Grand Valley State.