Ashland University's men's and women's indoor track and field teams, ranked No. 3 and No. 25, respectively, in NCAA Division II, return to competition following a near-month-long layoff on Sunday (Jan. 7) at Akron's Pole Vault Convention.
"This year, Akron invited us to partner with them in a meet on Sunday before school starts, something we've never done before," said Ashland head coach Jud Logan. "We're going over to Akron as a team on Sunday, probably 75 percent, more of who we consider to be our GLIAC team. We're going to see how kids trained over break, who's in shape, and give us a really good indication of where we need to go moving forward.
"This is different, and we'll see what the results are like."
For the young-but-up-and-coming Eagle women's team, redshirt freshman thrower Gianna DiPippo has been impressive in her first official collegiate meets, setting provisional marks for D-II indoor nationals in both the shot put (14.11 meters/46-feet-3½) and the weight throw (17.37 meters/57-feet-0).
"Every winter break, I've done this for 24 years, I write a letter to the team," Logan noted. "I talk about the strengths of every kid, and where I think they're going to be moving forward. What I wrote in the letter about Gianna, I wrote about watch this girl in February, because that's when I think that she's going to be really ready to be a two-event superstar."
The women enter the Akron meet with six provisional marks for indoor nationals, March 9-10 at Pittsburg State. Logan said the AU women are on schedule in terms of a return to national prominence.
"My mission before I leave this place is to return the women's program to the level of the men's," Logan said. "I've told that to my coaches. They are recruiting as such."
On the men's side, where there are two automatics and 13 provisionals for nationals, the 4x400 relay team of junior Myles Pringle, sophomore Paul Murray and freshmen Channing Phillips and Trevor Bassitt currently is in line for a nationals berth with a top time of 3:15.71.
The members of that 4x400 relay going forward, however, will fluctuate.
"There are seven candidates for four positions," said Logan. "Every week…will be auditions for who wants to be part of our 4x4, which is one of the strongest traditions in our program. Last year, we were trying to get four from three. This year, we're trying to get four from seven, so our depth has increased.
"We'll see who ends up there."